Restaurants Garden Route

My family frequent the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay area for holidays so I have a few restaurants on my list that are lovely to grab a vegan meal.

Ile de Pain in Knysna - They have wonderful options for breakfast and for lunch. I've eaten so well there, I keep going back to them. They also have an incredible vegan hot chocolate, just ask that they replace the dairy with their fresh almond milk. I don't think a better hot chocolate exists! Its so rich and creamy, a real French style hot chocolate. The pesto has cheese in it, so just make sure that whatever you order it comes without the pesto. The owners are clued up about vegan food, so I would recommend a chat to them before you order. The waiting staff are very friendly too and also take your needs into consideration, often having several options to recommend. The bread is also phenomenal. The owner is the only master baker in the country, so I would drive or fly down there just to try all the different types of bread. But maybe that's just me. I wish something like this existed in Johannesburg!



Emily Moon in Plettenberg Bay - This is one of the most beautiful settings I have ever been in. The restaurant looks out on an oxbow river and a beautiful valley. Get there two hours before sunset for sundowners and some potentially amazing photographs. Call ahead and book a table because they're full almost every night of the year, in and out of season. The chef is always very accommodating and I've had some delicious curries there. When you book your table, make sure to specify your culinary requirements. Don't eat the fresh bread that they bring to the table, it definitely contains eggs and buttermilk. This restaurant has had some of the same waiting staff for years, to me it's always a good sign of a good restaurant if the staff are happy!



Cornuti Al Mare in Plettenberg Bay - Also with a beautiful view, but this time of the ocean, they make delicious pizzas and some very good pastas. Once again, hold the cheese and ask about egg in the pasta.

NB! Cornuti have changed ownership and are now irritatingly inept. I wouldn't recommend it, save for the view.



Cornuti Al Mare in Knysna - The same as the above. The menus are exactly the same but this one looks over the stormy Knysna Heads and is absolutely spectacular. These restaurants don't take bookings for tables and are almost always packed to capacity in season. Out of season it's a lot easier to get a table with a view. Take into account how windy it can be on the patio.



Ristorante Enrico in Keurbooms - This beautiful setting used to be occupied by a mom and pop diner called the Singing Kettle. Enrico's makes significantly better food and your usual Italian restaurant vegan options. It's always packed in season but you can book a table. Try to get the tables right by the water, it's the most beautiful view of the ocean in the whole of Plettenberg Bay. Nothing beats the ambiance of this place, but the food is sometimes a little lacking. The owner used to be one of the owners of Roma Pizzeria in Melville, just saying.



Thyme and Again in Keurbooms - This is more of a deli and food store than a restaurant. They always have fresh organic produce, much of which they grow themselves, and they always have tofu. Prepare to pay for it though!




Disclaimer: I've borrowed these photos from the linked sites until I have my own to upload.

The Veg Table Private Dining Room

This little place just outside Knysna is hosted in someone's private house, worth calling ahead. BYOB.

Le Fournil

This little Plett bakery has some Vegan options and some yummy bread. Check that things are vegan, as the bread sticks have ham in them sometimes.

Zucchini

A veg friendly restaurant on the N2 highway between Sedgefield and Wilderness. Find at Timberlake Farm Stalls.

Rastafarian Community

I haven't been here but my chef brother went to visit with a great interest in their Vegan cooking in the community. He and his chef buddies all found the food to be affordable and delicious, so worth scouting where the community resides.

Bow Tie Chinese Restaurant

It saddens me to write bad things about a restaurant that is clearly struggling, and means well, but for all intents and purposes, DO NOT EAT HERE IF YOU ARE VEGAN. The food we ordered was all Vegan, but it was abysmal. The cabbage was old, with black edges, every dish we ordered was a slight, watery variation on the former. All that was different was the sauce. The sweetcorn dish was literally sweetcorn from a can with salt and pepper. It was depressing and disappointing. I hope that their other dishes make up for this, because they used to make fantastic food several years ago when they were still next door to the movies.

Mugg & Bean

Worchester, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Newscastle and Middleburg have a slightly different menu to the Mugg & Bean branches across the rest of South Africa so check out their separate menu. A restaurant that I would never have imagined to have vegan suitable dishes, never mind that I wouldn't usually eat there for a multiplex of reasons. There are two Vegan dishes - a Moroccan Carrot, Chickpea and Butternut Soup (NOT AVAILABLE IN THE AFOREMENTIONED TOWNS but ask what the soup of the day is - perhaps you'll be lucky). The other dish is the Thai Squash Pie (available in the aforementioned towns) of which I've heard rave reviews from a fellow Vegan Society director. That's definitely the one I'll order next time. This restaurant is never my first choice but if I'm stuck somewhere with only a Mugg & Bean and a Wimpy, I won't go on hunger strike.

The Table

This Plett restaurant has replaced long time resident Cranzgots Pizzeria and they also offer a pizza selection. This restaurant has fantastic salads, and wonderful pizzas. I tried this again in March 2013 and I found them friendly, accommodating and delicious. They also have free Wi-Fi and an AMAZING beer called Minerva's. Try the Strawberry & Spinach salad or the Caramelized Onion Pizza Bread. Their Vegetarian Pizza is also great.

I'm not a huge fan. The pizza I had was overpriced, they were miserly with the toppings and the outside tables are separated from the busy main road by a metre. I'm not overly impressed by any means - I'd rather go to Enrico's or Cornuti Al Mare.

Steers 

Of course Steers is right up there with Nando's, MacDonald's, KFC and such awful chains on the ethics list, so I always feel a bit disgusting supporting them. And every time I do eat the food I regret it afterwards, but they have a vegan burger that is edible, and quite satisfying when you've had a big party the night before. Finish off with Creme Soda or Iron Brew to top the disgustingness. And don't forget to order the chips, they're the best slaptjips covered in a spicy (and alarmingly delicious) seasoning.

Europa

I admit, I have a possibly weird hatred for Europa. The restaurant gives me the creeps, and there is nothing for vegans to eat. I cannot understand why so many people flock to the expensive mediocrity that is this terrible place! Even when I could eat there, there was nothing I could imagine putting in my mouth.

To add to my seething dislike of Europa, in March 2013 we sat down at a table, waited 20 minutes for service while being vehemently ignored, so decided to leave. Not a single member of staff even so much as looked at us. The Table has free Wi-Fi and they open early. Go there instead!

Wimpy

I wouldn't recommend eating here, but they have a vegetarian burger that can be vegan so long as they hold the cheese. The Guacamole is vegan at Wimpy, so if it's your only option on the way down to the coast I would say order double chips and guacamole instead of the burger. They deep fry the patty, which makes it disgusting, so if you're dead set on a burger, order it microwaved if you can to save yourself the bitter disappointment of innumerable serviettes that still don't drain the oil from your patty. Have it with guacamole, some caramelized onions, and maybe a pineapple ring to make it more exciting.

Nando's 

Their veggie burgers are quite yummy, their buns aren't bad and if you're into it, as for some pineapple. The lemon and herb dressing looks quite creamy but they assure us 100% every time that there is no dairy in it. Many of the Nando's dressings available at Pick 'n Pay and elsewhere are definitely vegan, so I'm not too worried. Make sure to specify that you don't want mayonnaise and as memory serves, they don't butter the buns. They also have a pita option but I don't know if the pitas are vegan.