FARMING IN THE CITY – IMBO Magazine Issue 27 / 2014

8th May 2014 at 10:22 am

– Amanda Nkwinika

Home to The Barn and The Deck restaurants, the Irene dairy farm
boasts a rich history, an enchanting beauty and delectable cuisine.


As I approach the entrance, the sharp contrast between the city behind me and the farm ahead becomes
increasingly apparent. The vast green, barn style buildings and distinct scent of manure and ripe fruit were the first sign of a
farm and everything else after that was just a welcomed pleasant surprise. Nominated for a 2013 Rosetta award, The Deck restaurant is recognised by the Restaurant Association of South Africa as one of the top six Best Country Restaurant venue in South Africa.

Situated in the south of Pretoria, the Irene Dairy Farm has been in operation since 1895 when it was bought by Albertus van de Byl, great great great grandfather to the current owners.

Running it as a subsistence farm, the van der Byl family opened the farm up commercially in 2000 through the establishment of a small tea garden. In 2004, the infamous ‘The Barn’ restaurant was established as an extension of the tea garden to keep up with the increasing demand. ‘The Deck’ restaurant followed soon after as a slightly more upmarket option for people who might seek a quieter outing. Now an iconic landmark in the Centurion country side, The Irene Diary farm also features a Diary shop which offers homemade produce as well as scrumptious certified raw milk and cream.



Although in the same vicinity, the two restaurants are distinct and magnificent in their own right and bear only minor similarities. The
atmosphere at The Barn is incredibly homey and inviting. With chickens wandering around as you enjoy your meal, one is also fortunate enough to have a close view of the most adorable monkeys and luxurious black and white swans.

The Deck is slightly smaller (seating 54) but also more sophisticated. Unlike the Barn− that has larger tables perfect for families and large groups− the Deck is a little more intimate but still affords the diners the same spectacular view of the farm.



The menus in these two restaurants offer a little something for everyone. With a more family orientated limited a la carte menu,
The Barn offers everything from burgers and pizzas to toasted sandwiches and scrumptious deserts. The restaurant serves an affordable hot breakfast buffet on weekends and also offers breakfast items that are on the menu such croissants and muffins. The buffet service worked well for me because it allowed for families to move about, which gave the place a more relaxed and family friendly atmosphere.

The Deck offers a full a la carte menu from Monday to Sundays. Although the food is similar in its homey feel, the presentation and
variety is different given the difference in the two restaurants. Anything from open Spanish omelettes, roasted pork belly or Nisswa salad is served at The Deck and diners can also enjoy a delectable wine selection.

What makes the Irene Dairy farm work is not only the great food and ambiance, but the fact that there’s a little something for everyone. Families can relax at The Barn and old friends can enjoy a quiet meal at The Deck. Since the farm is still fully operational, the guests also get the opportunity to witness the cows come in and get milked in the afternoon, which is an
experience many city dwellers don’t expect.

Amazing restaurants and homemade produce store aside, the farm is also available for small functions, kitchen teas, kid’s birthday parties, weddings and even conferences. The Irene dairy farm is the perfect place to visit for anyone seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life without having to leave the city.


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