Where does one go when you are looking for something different, something a little special. 34 Tapas & Oysters? It’s almost different but it lacks the bohemian informality I would expect from a Tapas Bar. It caters more to the up country folk and Thesen Island set. So for lunch I inevitably end up at Cruise Cafe and order the Pork Neck roast or if not why not the Thai Kitchen? I generally go for the Penang Thai Beef Curry. But be warned if Ken is cooking you are going to have to add a bit more seasoning to get the authentic taste.
What else is there? Sedgefied, George, Wilderness and Plett are no problem. I know what I like and where to find it. But in Kynsna I am at a loss. I have however tried the Oats porrige at the Coffee Connection and that’s worth another look. Very creamy, very Scottish. I also regularly do the Eggs Hollanaise at East End Cafe, Mario’s Breakfast and On the Run at Cruise Cafe but besides that lot, it all appears to be much the same. Altough Deenie’s, Piccola Italia and Maureen’s Place are also worth a look see mre often than not.
How many times have we seen a restaurant open with fresh new ideas that slowly get trimmed down to the inevitable burger and toasted sarmie’s? This smartly followed by the inevitable Gone Fishing sign on the door.
[edit 22/11/10] I tried the chicken and mushroom pie a Harry B’s and had to wait while they topped it and baked it but the result was well worth it. Beats the famous Bell chicken pie hands down. It was good!
The Island Cafe which is part of the Turbine Hotel on Thesen Island is opening. It’s different in that the dinning area and pub have been built around the old turbine that supplied power to the Thesen factory. But they are going to battle even in the busy times. There are just too many restaurants and too few discerning diners in Knysna. S2E the fast food specialists on Long St have closed their doors as has Aroma LCD. That last one took me by surprise. Coffee shops yes but I always thought that a liquor outlet would be a safe bet.
Chaplins have opened a second cafe on Grey, Bamboo Guest House in Hunters Home the Mosaic restaurant and Brentonhill is offering breakfast, light lunches and afternoon tea.
[edit 15/06/12] Lunar Cafe in the new mall is doing some nice soups. They arte not liquidised and have interesting bits and pieces swimming about. Ham and pea soup can get very bland and dull but have been back for more of theirs.
Harry B’s offers a beef soup on their bar menu but it was not available when I stopped by to try out their new coffee shop. I also found soups down at the 34 South takeaway kiosk. I didn’t care for the one with a touch of coconut cream. But the snoek bisque was robust and the ciabata rolls perfect for dunking.
Where does one get the tastiest soul warming soup on a cold crisp day? I found myself in George last week and at the House of Flavour. I do their chunky beef and vegetable soup which is served with a slice of lightly toasted ciabata bread. The restaurants in Knysna which offer a good soup are the Thai Kitchen for the Tom Yum, Tom Kha Khai and Gaeng Soum which are always good and which are guaranteed to ward off the chills. But it’s Joy’s Oxtail soup which has just made its way back onto the menu, which I really enjoy. Next is Deenie’s [no longer Deenies, has changed hands twice] with a selection of three different soups. They offer a tasty chicken soup as well as a chunky beef and bean soup which I will do again. I also had a clear vegetable soup at the Red Barn which had a few lurking olives that gave it a Mediterranean flavour.
What else is there on offer?
I found a new coffee shop tucked away in Pledge Square next to the Movie House. The Olive Tree has completed their renovations which are looking good. Enrico’s, Ile de pain and East Head Cafe have all closed up for their winter break. Whilst we have new faces at the 2 Dogs which has opened at the Oude Fabriek with Hugo’s on Deck in the throes of opening at the end of Grey and an traditional Irish pub setting up in Memorial Square next to the Thai Kitchen. Bosun’s forgot to renew their liquor licence and will be re-opening along with Lunar Cafe on Thesen’s which has been closed for winter and reopening in the new Mall. There are changes at Morton’s and Quay Four have opened at long last. Then on the flip side Portland Manor are now closed to the public,
On the way back from George this morning I stopped off at Joplin’s which can be found just outside Wilderness on the left. There is nothing special about the place. It is unpretentious and the menu is limited but it’s always toss up between one of their steaks or Ryan’s Middle Eastern sandwich at the Cafe François which is little closer to Sedgefield. You get a choice of a fried egg or garlic or egg and garlic with your steak. And just to complicate it further there is rump, sirloin, fillet or T-bone’s to choose from. I opted for a rock shandy to accompany my sirloin and I doubt I could have asked for better meal in the Garden Route.
After some decidedly tasteless and very cocky commentary it is ironic to see that our Nando’s look alike has closed its doors. For renovations? Or has it become another statistic? My guess is that it that has crashed and burnt and I think “Mark” needs to understand that what gets passed around comes around? We have tried both the Watermill as well as Marks famous peri-peri chicken. But contrary to what he would have us believe neither come anywhere close to the orignals. All my wife could say was that Nando’s was better and I am afraid I will still place my steak order at Joplin’s just outside Wilderness.
Monks look as if they have called it a day. Barut closed and has reopened as a Portuguese sidewalk bar. Ciao Amici didn’t make it through season and neither did Prime Cut Grill. Crabs Creek did change hands but it wasn’t Ron Pocock who took over. Quay Four is taking longer than expected to get started but to compensate we have a new dinning experience at the Premier Hotel at Ashmead and a new takeout in Gray St, In & Out I think. The little trattoria Piccola Italia has become a bigger trattoria and has moved to Woodmill Lane offering busy shoppers a pleasant and leafy alterative as well as some good coffee. Finally the Meeting Place has changed hands after being taken over by Liezl from Gold Leaf Catering
34 South have opened an Oyster and Tapas bar where Lush used to be. Nothing like the Tapas of old which I used to know well and frequent all too regularly. But despite that they do offer an interesting menu. I believe the portions should be smaller. That customers be encouraged to share, mix, match and to sample different dishes. And maybe they could try it out by offering one a choice between a larger or smaller sized helping.
I ordered the trinchado and whilst it was tasty it did nothing to inspire the feeling of contented well being that was Beira, LM or the signature dish at the Hut. This was always accompanied by a Portuguese bun, lashings of peri-peri, beer and olives. Firstly tender cubes of prime beef are no substitute for strips of goat that is as tough as old boots and besides which there wasn’t an olive to be seen anywhere. That is not how you serve trinchado. And the menu should state clearly that they are serving prime cut beef cubes in an unusually tasty tomato and onion sauce with just a hint of chilli.
Nauticus has just re-opened for the second time. This after a fire on their first night two weeks ago. It has been taken over by Martyn Hill and it will be an interesting one to watch. Despite the ups and downs with restaurants there, we used to travel out to Brenton regularly and it would be nice to see something taking root and getting established. Crabs Creek has also changed hands. It’s going to be run by Ron Pocock and his wife whose intro to Knysna was the Blue Marina on Thesen. Cafe Ambosia is closing, in typical Knysna fashion, after being messed around by would be developers. Lush is to be reopened as a Tapas venue and I believe the bottom half of Dry Dock is being remodeled as a ‘something’ lounge. This is being sponsored by Peroni with their expensive Italian beer and the soccer crew in mind no doubt . Does it come with a big screen and Rugby on tap after the event? Who knows? The maket is all over the place at the moment and it will be interesting to see where the chips finally fall. Morton’s is for sale but here’s hoping that the fish and cheap lunch will continue
When does the humble toasted sarmie become something other than a humble toasted sarmie? And the answer is when you happily pay double at Mon petit pain. And what’s more, for a whole lot less than you get elsewhere. There is no side salad, no greasy french fries and tomato sauce, not even a salt and vinegar crisp or two. All you get is two slices of bread that stand proud on the plate covering whatever tasty stuff is tucked away inside.
And somewhere in all of this is an important lesson for all would be Knysna restaunteers. It is always busy. Yet despite this the coffee is always as good as you will get anywhere else.
Most breakfasts are predictable and as boring as a traditional breakfast can be. Eggs this, eggs that and black or white toast. But as far as boring breakfasts go, we are regulars at the Harkerville market where you get what I consider to be the very best of boring breakfasts. For R29 you get a Half Monty which comes with a sweet corn fritter, fried egg on a bun, pork or beef sausage, fried tomato and generous helping of crispy bacon. Throw some chilli sauce onto the tin plate and then once armed with a knife and fork, you have it. The most boring breakfast on the Garden Route. And one that keeps us going back for more.
I also frequent
- East Head Cafe (Eggs Hollandaise)
- Cruise Cafe (On the Run)
- Island Coffee Shop
- Fat Susi’s