A hidden gem in Hatfield

In the quiet streets of Hatfield, nestled among the student accommodation, is a quaint hotel with an unassuming yet impressive bar and restaurant.

The Africa Restaurant is the gem of the Protea Hotel by Marriot.

Sowetan was invited to sample its menu recently. The décor is Afrocentric, with cattle prints on the walls.

The bar boasts TV screens big enough for any soccer lover to enjoy a game or two.

The dining area is intimate and elegant with a portion that can be reserved for parties.

Most evenings, the soft sounds of jazz can be heard after 6pm as diners enjoy their evening meal.

Dinner is served as a buffet,Chef "Bull" Mkhize, the resident chef, is a friendly, charismatic fellow who is passionate about his menu.

Each night he prepares an "African surprise" that is kept in two potjie pots and only revealed when you choose to get a taste.

After sipping on a house cocktail, a green minty concoction that was light and refreshing, it was time to head over to the buffet. On offer was rice with mushroom and carrot, with various options of lamb stew, mash potatoes with cheese, tomato gravy, chicken stew and, of course, the surprise item.

While the normal fare was uninspiring, the African surprise was sublime. It was pap and mogodu . The pap was a creamy buttery sensation and the mogodu was just delicious.

The hotel was built in 2010 in the hopes of drawing World Cup visitors.

It is currently under renovation and will soon offer much larger rooms than before.

We were offered a one-night stay at the hotel and put up in one of the old standard rooms. The room was big enough for one, but a bit of a squeeze for two people who are not intimate partners.

The establishment itself seems to attract a mix of an older crowd and young students, the latter seemingly preferring the bar.

The place is perfect for those who like a slower pace.

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