The village of Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal is known as the ‘Gateway to the Midlands’ but………
How many people actually make a stop in Hilton before making their way to the Midlands or to the Drakensberg?
If you are a lover of coffee or are desperate for coffee you would probably know of Ground Coffee House which is situated close to the freeway, making it easy for a quick stop before continuing your travels.
Ground Coffee House was my first stop on a recent trip to Hilton but this time I wasn’t passing through…………. I was staying.
GROUND COFFEE HOUSE
Ground Coffee House makes delicious coffee and sells coffee beans and coffee making equipment. They have indoor and outdoor seating and also serve food and sweet treats. The coffee shop is very popular with people that need a place to work on their laptops. Ground uses coffee roasted by Manna Roastery which is a local roastery in Hilton. I bought 2 bags of coffee beans for home.
Address : 10 Hilton Avenue
Opening days and hours : Weekdays 7am – 5pm
Weekends 8am – 2pm
After my stop for coffee (and a chat) at Ground Coffee House I drove over to the Hilton Station. What is at Hilton Station?
The Station Stop Coffee Shop.
STATION STOP COFFEE SHOP
I was feeling a bit hungry but it wasn’t quite lunch time so I decided to brunch with an all day breakfast croissant containing bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs. More coffee? Yes! A cappuccino. The beans used were Lineage ‘People’s Blend.’
It had been a very long time since I had visited Hilton Station and a lot had changed. More trains and carriages are parked at the station, there are more businesses trading and there is a covered area to sit on the train tracks to enjoy your meal. But a big surprise to me was that Station Stop Coffee Shop has opened their own coffee roastery – Rail Road Roasters. Their coffee roaster is different in that it is an air roaster. The roastery is very, very new and a lot of trial and error has gone into setting up and getting a roast right. The first roast that they are happy with uses a Tanzania Double A bean and when offered a cappuccino to try it, the answer was of course yes. I also bought a bag of Rail Road Roasters coffee beans for home.
Address : 31 Hilton Avenue
Opening days and hours : Weekdays and Saturday 7am – 3pm
Sunday 7am – 1pm
Short video of Hilton Station and a peak inside Rail Road Roasters HERE
THE GOODS SHED
After my 2nd coffee at Station Stop I went to look inside The Goods Shed which had just opened that morning. The shop contains decor, furniture and gifts.
Stopped at 2 charity shops in Hilton and looked to see where I would have breakfast the next morning. I then took a slow drive down the Old Howick Road to my accommodation in Wembley.
JACKIE CAMERON SCHOOL OF FOOD AND WINE
At 6:30pm that evening I parked at the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine to attend a student final dinner. This was the 1st dinner I would attend and the whole reason why I was in Hilton.
The students have to prepare a three course menu paired with wine. They also explain about their dish and the wine paired with it. The dinner by student Megan Odell was amazing and loadshedding did not put a damper on the evening.
If you want to experience the amazing food that Jackie Cameron’s students produce you can book for the restaurant called Br.unch. They also have The School Outlet which is stocked with pantry items and products from suppliers to the school. Br.unch is only open on Saturdays and Sundays but please check the website as the restaurant is closed when the students are doing exams and final dinners.
Not too early on Saturday morning I drove up the Old Howick Road again and made my way over to The Break Room in Hilton for breakfast. This restaurant was recommended to me by Dale from Crane Flower Coffee in Kloof. Before driving up the hill I went through the drive-thru at the CoffeeBox to get a large cappuccino. I needed my caffeine kick to start the day.
THE BREAK ROOM
Hilton was in the midst of their allotted loadshedding time but fortunately The Break Room has a generator so I could enjoy a latte and The Famous Eggslut – English muffin loaded with rocket, baby spinach, onion, avo, tomato, housemade sweet-chilli and vegan mayo. With an egg or balsamic black mushroom or both. I had both the egg and the mushroom. It was delicious!
The Break Room has smoothies, breakfast, lunch and treats and there are vegan and gluten free options available. They also serve a SushiDogg which I have to try the next time I am in Hilton. It is a must visit.
Address : 37 Hilton Avenue
Opening days and hours : Weekdays 8am – 3pm
Saturday 8am – 1pm
Hilton has beautiful street art / murals painted on buildings in the village and I managed to get a photo of a few of them. The art is made possible by BOOMTOWN which “incorporates ongoing public art projects, and an annual outdoor public art festival in Hilton. The aim is to support artists and uplift and invigorate public space through public beautification and storytelling.”
Find out more about Boomtown HERE
After breakfast I visited Manna Roastery which I had made an appointment to see. It had been a few years since I had visited last and the roastery was bigger with more space to store green beans and roasted coffee. Loadshedding had just finished and the Genio roaster was switched on and ready to roast coffee. Kwanda does the roasting for Manna Roastery and being a roaster is not just an add the beans and walk away job. The roaster has to stand by and make sure that the roast is following the settings to roast that particular coffee bean. The beans are added to large buckets after roasting and they will stay in the buckets to degas for approximately 3 weeks. Kwanda made me a fabulous coffee using their Muyinga coffee beans. A lot of restaurants and coffee shops in Hilton use coffee from Manna Roastery.
Short video of Kwanda using the Genio to roast coffee HERE
Garlingtons Bistro was my choice for lunch and I had made sure to make a booking as they are very busy on weekends. I had wanted to eat at Garlingtons for a very long time and it did not disappoint. Their menu is filled with so many different and delicious sounding dishes. I didn’t want to have too large a dish as I would be attending another student dinner at Jackie Cameron that evening. What do you do when it’s difficult to decide what to order? Ask the waiter!
What did he recommend? The Sesame Salmon Tacos which is listed under Light Meals. Soft shell tacos with fresh pineapple salsa, sesame crusted salmon, kewpie mayo, avocado and caviar. Served with soya sauce and wasabi. The one word for this dish is ……WOW.
I also ordered a Sweetheart (pink gin, shimmer, pink tonic, elderflower syrup) cocktail that was also recommended and mixed for me by my waiter. Thank you Shadrack.
After lunch I went to sit outside on a lounger and enjoy the fresh air and the view. It was a beautiful and warm winter’s afternoon.
Address : Seeking Drive Garlington Estate
Opening days and hours : Wednesday, Thursday 8am – 10pm
Friday, Saturday 8am – 11pm
Sunday 8am – 4pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Bookings : 033 329 5200 Landline
079 425 0106 WhatsApp only
I had a quick stop for a cappuccino at the Coffeeberry Cafe at the new The Avenues Centre before going back to my accommodation for a rest before the evening.
There is also another Coffeeberry Cafe at the Cascades Lifestyle Centre in PMB.
JACKIE CAMERON SCHOOL OF FOOD AND WINE
I attended the 2nd student dinner at Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine. It was another amazing evening and I am in awe of what student Aimee Hohls served. Her dishes can easily be served in a restaurant.
Read more about the student dinners and see photos of the dishes HERE
On Sunday morning I ordered a large cappuccino from the CoffeeBox drive-thru and made my way home through trucks and road works. Driving to and from Hilton is not for the faint of heart.
Address : 1 Montgomery Drive, Athlone PMB
Opening days and hours : Weekdays and Saturdays 6:30am – 5:30pm
Sundays 7am – 5:30pm
“Hilton owes its name to Jane Henderson, wife of farming pioneer and financier Joseph Henderson, who no doubt was nostalgically thinking of Hilton Park in her native Staffordshire when they first named their farm Hilton in 1860 which adjoined Philip Zietsman’s Voortrekker farm, named ‘Groenekloof’ and was used as access to the wagon routes.
The Zulu name for Hilton is Nyazake, which means ‘His Feet’ and is derived from old Zulu war trails connecting the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg region with Kranskop, approximately where Hilton farm is today. The earliest record of Europeans in the Hilton area goes back to the early 19th century when transport riders travelled into the hinterland over World’s View, making overnight stops at Ketelfontein, Sedgley and The Knoll at Winterskloof. Voortrekker farmers were the first to settle in the 1840’s when they were granted land by the British Government, two early large farms Groenekloof and Ongegund.
The ‘village’ of Hilton began when prominent residents of Pietermaritzburg purchased property to build cottages as a retreat from the summer heat and dust of the town.”