There’s been a lot of debate around the introduction of restaurant chains into Kruger since the contracts were awarded late last year, so we decided to try out the new Mugg & Bean at Lower Sabie earlier in April and judge for ourselves.
From the moment I caught my first glimpse of it, I was impressed. With the new layout, furniture and design, it is a definite step-up from before and the cappuccinos were a whole lot tastier! We were welcomed by a large, friendly staff, as visiting trainees from Mopani were on the floor too. Now admittedly, not all the waitrons knew the menu or exactly what they were doing, but they were honest about it and asked for our understanding, which went a long way to keeping any impatience at bay.
We visited again for a dinner when staying at Lower Sabie later in the week. They were a little short-staffed which led to a bit of frustration from all diners, but the food was great and the waitrons who were on-hand were friendly and helpful. I loved the open fires, keeping us warm and adding to the delightful atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Original Cobb Salad’ (without the blue cheese, please!) as I reflected back on visiting Kruger years ago with my Dad who had diabetes and had to settled for a below-average Iceberg Lettuce (eeeu!) and Chicken salad on numerous visits to the restaurant. Oh, he would have been in his element at M&B! Ending the evening with an Amarula Pedro on the deck of Lower Sabie is an experience that I recommend to anyone visiting the Park; South African and foreigner alike.
I know some have been concerned that having chain restaurants in Kruger would detract from the authentic experience and some have remarked that they would like to see more game meat on the menu, but I felt proudly South African as Mugg & Bean put on their best and wowed the Americans, French and Portuguese around us; certainly better than what was offered previously.
Unfortunately most other restaurant refurbishments have been delayed so we were only able to try out this one but I look forward to returning to Kruger to try the others (hopefully) soon.
There are obviously issues to be ironed out and staff to be fully trained but in my opinion, these restaurants are a good step forward. I hope they continue to improve and keep up the quality. What are your thoughts and/or experiences?