The great driving routes of the world are not just known for their expansive rolling countryside or magnificent mountain or sea vistas but for the amazing food that is served along the way, giving a sense of purpose and meaning to the word “road trip”.
The R44 Clarence Drive route between Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay, ranked one of the top ten scenic drives in South Africa, now has one more very good reason to get you into the car and “on the road again”.
Fittingly called the PitStop Lodge, this newly-opened venue within a stone’s throw of Steenbras River Bridge has been fitted out with road-trip icons. Hub caps, headlights, licence plates, grill plates and old petrol pumps take you back to a time in the 1950s and ‘60s when the car was king.
King of this establishment though, is definitely the Grille Shack. Inspired by smoke and fire, a theme that weaves its way throughout the menu, the Grille Shack can best be described in three words: authentic, unique and experimental.
The food fuses the flavours of traditional American pit BBQ with Tex-Mex and Baja California to deliver dishes that remain true to this region of the world even though the ingredients are sourced locally.
While many restaurants serve nachos, no one does it quite like the Grille Shack. They start with Santa Anna’s organic tortilla chips, add their own melted, smoked cheese and top it off with a range of fresh ingredients. Chillies, salsa and coriander add colour to the dish. But the pièce de résistance is the guacamole. Crumbed and quickly deep-fried, it oozes out over the dish when cut, a master-stroke of Chef George Britton.
But what will hook aficionados of grilled meats is the willingness of the team to try out new ideas. They have already hosted a trial Fire Feast, a traditional Argentinian asado, with the next one planned for 23 March. Imagine a quarter-cow grilling on a cross stake with meat being cut off bit-by-bit and you will quickly understand that this traditional South American way of cooking imparts totally different flavours. At R165 per person, including salads and an ice-cream, this is a wonderful way to spend time with the family, together with a bottle of good red wine or one of the different craft beers on offer.
Creative consultant Jay Haupt, owner of the Hickory Shack in Elgin, wants to go even further. He is contemplating introducing roasted pig’s head meat served with soft tacos and all the trimmings, a traditional delicacy in many countries.
While meat is certainly the hero at Grille Shack, Jay has also included a number of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Unlike many restaurants, these dishes are not an add-on but fit the theme of the menu, so much so that carnivores will be just as happy to order them.
After two months of operations, owner Winnie Burger says that 80% of their customers are folks who, in the true tradition of the road trip, see the restaurant while driving and decide to pull off for a break.
So if you want to take in an abundance of blue sky and ocean, gasp at rugged mountains, spot a whale or two, visit the penguins, hike or just enjoy the pleasure of the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, then the Grille Shack offers a fitting tribute to the beauty all around you. Whether the Grille Shack is your destination or a stop along your way, you won’t be disappointed.
The PitStop, R44 Clarence Drive
Gordon’s Bay 7140
087 150 7972
Monday – closed
Tuesday – Thurs 10:00 – 17:00
Friday – 10:00 – 19:00
Sat – 08:00 – 21:00
Sun – 08:00 – 18:00
Child- and pet-friendly
Plenty of parking