Richard is in love with food, a passion of his since school days. All his and Mouse’s travels have been based around food and wine, giving him experiences which have stood him in good stead for his food creations at Cleopatra. He bases all his dishes on flavour first and loves trying new ingredients and ideas – mixing and matching – to give a perfect balance on each plate.
Over the years he has built up a large library of gourmet recipes. This led to the first Cleopatra Cookbook, which is now going into its 5th printing.
Richard’s relaxed style of gourmet farmhouse dining at Cleopatra has been a winner. This is because it encourages guests to relax and enjoy the food experience as they dine in the magnificent surroundings.
With new dishes coming on to the menu all the time Richard’s enthusiasm and love for his craft is evident.
What You Can Expect from Our Gourmet Meals
Dinner is a sumptuous 7 course affair with no effort or expense spared to give our guests a memorable dining experience. Richard talks you through every mouthful from pan to plate before you sit down to enjoy his creations, and he doesn’t mind telling you that Cleopatra’s food is all about the tastes, fun and passion that go into good country cooking!
Don’t forget to stay for breakfast, though. The unusual and exciting 3 courses are the icing on the cake of your flavourful time with us. We so look forward to your stay with us at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse.
Great food is only as good as the ingredients you use
Fresh ingredients are essential, and being able to pick from the gardens minutes before serving is a real pleasure. For the most exotic tastes, Richard spends hours hunting down local and imported ingredients of the highest quality – flying in fresh salmon from Norway and procuring genuine Parma hams and cheeses from Italy.
Meet Our Gourmet Chef
Born on a sugar farm in Zululand, Richard Poynton was groomed to become a farmer. His childhood was spent hunting, shooting and fishing on the farm and sailing boats on the Richard’s Bay lagoon. After his schooling at Michaelhouse in the Natal Midlands he felt the need to formally study farming practices and went to the Cedara Agricultural College. After a stint at Rhodes University in Grahamstown- studying Agricultural economics – he returned to the family farm to continue in the family tradition. His grandfather, Fred, had cleared the virgin bush – basically by hand, with a few labourers – in the early 1900s and Richard’s father, Ralph, had continued sugar farming in a more modern era.
It soon became apparent that sugar farming was not for Richard. He was more suited to the arts! He had played in a band during his school, University and farming days and his love of music has never waned. Mouse had taken up pottery since her days teaching in Howick and so Richard decided to join her and they then went into pottery full time. These were very happy years as they now had two daughters who were growing up with their parents at home. As soon as they got to school-going age he realised that he needed to do something a bit more responsible in order for them to go to private schools.
He embarked on his first venture in the hospitality industry by converting their existing house into what would become Granny Mouse’s Country House. After eight years they then moved to the UK for a year. Here they spent time working with chefs, doing cookery courses in the UK and Ireland and travelling through France and Italy. They learnt so much and realised that this is where their hearts lay.
Returning to South Africa to a family farm in the Drakensberg Mountains they started Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse – a gourmet getaway.
Richard still loves to cook and is very involved in the kitchen at the hotel. Whenever they can they travel with food as their theme.
There is still so much to learn and experience. The food revolution has taken off with the emphasis on home grown and fresh farm flavours. This is what appeals to them!
- KZN Tourism – Best Service Award
- “Oscar” from Anne Stevens – Food Critic
- American Express Fine Dining Platinum Award
- Diner’s Club Top 10 Awards
- 5 Star Chef – Wine Magazine (one of only 19 chosen in South Africa)
- Best New Restaurant – Eat Out
- AA GOLD ACHIEVER AWARD (one of only 30 chosen in South Africa)
- Top 100 Restaurants
And, our cookbook won “Best first cookbook in the world – in English” at The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and a Silver Award in the International Sappi Awards for Excellence in Printing.
What Others Say About Our Gourmet Restaurant
“Unbelievable! The best food we have ever had and the friendliest staff we ever met. We will never forget our stay at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse. We will come back! Thanks for all.”
“Probably the best cuisine we have experienced in all our years of travelling. Matched by wonderful staff and attention. Many thanks.”
“Food was amazing and up there with some of the best Michelin starred restaurants we have eaten in and equal top in SA.” - Pasarell: Tripadvisor
“A gastronomic adventure and an omelette to dream about!! Many thanks for sharing your peaceful haven, friendly dogs and amazing food.”
“The main highlight for which they are renowned is the food and it does not disappoint. Dinners are a five course affair which takes place after the menu for the evening has been explained, and the breakfasts are novel and just as good, if not better!” - Kal S: Tripadvisor
“Some may come for the breath taking mountain scenery, Mouse’s quirky interiors, the seamless friendly service and the ever changing diet-busting yummy menus. But it’s no secret why I come back again and again I come for the chocolate tart with orange ice-cream No matter how often we visit your farmhouse, we are never disappointed. On the contrary, we’re always surprised and delighted by new and improved nooks and crannies, mouth watering additions to the culinar repertoire and staff that are so clearly dedicated to and passionate about what they do. Thank you…”
“Hospitality is faultless, food is the best ever – but main attraction is Richard Poynton himself. Best host, taler, chef – you name it he has it in the bag. Can’t praise this place enough.” - Diane D: Tripadvisor
“Wow! Fantastic location, fuelled with a culinary experience out of this world! I’m desperately trying to remember the interesting combinations, beautifully presented right down to afternoon tea. Thank you to all the friendly staff for looking after us and giving us such a warm welcome at the first stop on our SA tour.”