Some people have eating in a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Paris on their bucket lists. Others want to eat in a restaurant because a certain famous chef designed the menu. I wanted to have dinner at Antie Evelyn se Eetplek and when the opportunity arose I packed my overnight bag and headed into the Eastern Cape’s Karoo Heartland to the village of cement owls, fossils, leivore and Auntie Evelyn. Nieu-Bethesda.
Auntie Evelyn Oliphant has been running her little restaurant from her house on the edge of Nieu-Bethesda’s Pienaarsig township for over 20 years. In 2007 she also started a soup kitchen to feed the needy in her local community, and some of the proceeds from her restaurant, along with many donations she receive, goes straight into this project. Auntie Evelyn really has a very big heart.
I joined a group of fellow tourism people for an evening out and on arrival we took our place at the table under the roof between her and her neighbour’s houses. It was late autumn and the air was crisp, but Auntie Evelyn had two old wooden stoves going and we all felt welcome right from the start. I hear in summer she sometimes serve the meal in her little garden overlooking the community sports field.
While everybody was settling in I snuck into the kitchen to go and have a peak at where the aromas drifting out of the house were coming from. Clearly Auntie Evelyn is used to guests in her kitchen as she didn’t even lift an eyebrow. She did lift some lids though and my mouth was watering.
Antie Evelyn se Eetplek isn’t the type of place where you’d expect a starter before the main, but there was one. Vetkoek and a fresh salad. Did I mention there was vetkoek? Twice? That’s because I did go back for another one.
The main was delicious. Properse home cooking. I saw a review or two on TripAdvisor where people mentioned that the food was too greasy for them. If so, you’re in totally the wrong place and you should rather go and find that Michelin star place I mentioned and pay a fortune for prim and proper restaurant food. You’re not going to find one in Nieu-Bethesda though. Back to the food. Properse home cooking, ek sê. There were two meats. Chicken and beef stew (see photo two up), roast potatoes, rice, beans, pumpkin and … My mind has just gone blank and is focusing way to hard on my mouth watering rather than on what we had that evening. I know there was a third veg. Peas? Carrots? I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter. All I know is that it was lekker.
Auntie Evelyn only serves food and does have some cold drinks in the fridge for sale, but she’s not a licensed establishments so you have to bring your own wine and whatever else your poison is along. She does serve divine home made ginger beer though. That didn’t last long cause one glass becomes a second and a third.
I popped back into the kitchen after cleaning my plate and noticed the glass bowls coming out of the cupboard for dessert. Malva pudding with home made custard. Ladled from the pot and not poured from a box. The way it should be. No fancy presentations with a little mint leaf and drizzled fruit reduction. Served like my granny used to do it.
All the while the kettles were kept hot on top of the two wooden stoves for coffee afterwards. “Lekker, pure plaas” as Oom Jan Spies used to say in that tv advert.
I just could not help but to get a picture with Auntie Evelyn in front of her eetplek sign. She may not be Gordon Ramsey in name, but she sure knows a thing or two about proper cooking.
The menu is always changing, depending on what’s in season and what mood Auntie Evelyn is in. Dishes include boboties, bredies, samp-and-beans, vegetable dishes, soup and a choice of fresh bread and roosterkoek with homemade jam, a seasonal salad, and a yummy dessert. Auntie Evelyn also makes vegetarian meals.
Call Auntie Evelyn on 049 841 1774 or 072 109 7139
Disclaimer – I paid for the meal like everybody else. Although we went there as a group of tourism people to experience Antie Evelyn se Eetplek first hand, it wasn’t a sponsored visit.