The resort has an ageless charm set in its expanse of well-kept lawns with views of mountains and forests, overlooking the sparkling water and golf course stretching into the distance. After spending a pleasant hour lakeside, hoping to catch a rainbow, we finally realised fish were just not biting that day, so we took a very casual walk around the golf course instead. There were a few other strollers enjoying the late-afternoon sun and also a couple on horseback by the lake. A tranquil scene in which to unwind and relax before moving indoors to order pre-dinner drinks and to anticipate a well-earned dinner!
The interior of Troutbeck is still as welcoming as ever with its traditional roaring log fires in the entrance lobby and the spacious lounge, and we appreciated being able to sink into the comfort of the fireside sofas and imbibe the warmth, the ambience and the friendliness of the staff, while taking a leisurely look through the A La Carte menu and deciding what to order.
The menu offered an extensive variety of tempting dishes ranging from tomato carpaccio and mature cheddar fritters to prime beef cutlets and grilled marinated pork chops (with cinnamon-glazed apple rings!); apple pie with cream and carrot cake with brandy sauce — just to mention a few of the mouth-watering dishes for those such as ourselves who had worked up a hearty appetite after a day of outdoor activities!
So it came as a disappointment when we ordered the stuffed button mushrooms and chicken escalopes (and other alternative choices) that these were not available on account of the numerous power cuts that day! It was a fact that during the evening the power went off three times when the hotel had to switch over to their own generator. So in the end there was a very limited choice of food, which rendered the menu virtually meaningless.
The hotel staff were exemplary, service was superb throughout and Killen, our waiter, was charmingly friendly and most attentive. When we voiced a certain reluctance to move from the cosy fireside, he promptly suggested bringing our meal to us there — which he did! This was especially appreciated as being the only diners there that evening we really didn’t fancy eating alone in the dining-room.
So it was that our meal started with soup of the day, a rather bland potato soup — unremarkable but thankfully served piping hot — followed by deep-fried oriental vegetable spring rolls with chilli dip and a salad garnish. My partner ordered whole nyanga trout — nicely grilled — with herb and lemon butter — and I ordered sirloin steak which was perfectly-cooked to my liking. Both these dishes were served with chips and mixed vegetables. None of the baked desserts was available so we ordered a serving of plain vanilla ice-cream to finish.
Looking around the Troutbeck Hotel gives the impression that it has seen better days and there exists a kind of shabby elegance in the reception rooms. It is a wonderfully interesting place with historic photographs on the walls and memorabilia dating back to when the hotel was built 80 years ago. While this history should be preserved at all costs, some refurbishment and appropriate interior decoration, sympathetically carried out, would certainly enhance this beautiful old hotel.
Family Restaurant, 2 Plates
Expect to spend US$25 to US$30 per head
Troutbeck Hotel, Nyanga.