I get confused. Sometimes horribly confused. Such as the time I ordered a Cafe Breakfast at Mario’s and was presented with a plate that looked nothing like the high cholesterol extravaganza that East Head Cafe does so well. But it was only when I asked where Mario’s breakfast sausage was that I realised that it was the Mario’s Breakfast I should have been eating. Similarly for some reason or other I had decided that Cruise Cafe and East Head were sharing the same burger recipe and it was only after ordering them on consecutive days that I came to the conclusion that I was quite wrong. And I might be quite wrong in giving Cruise Cafe the nod for Knysna’s best burger. It was one of the two but two things clinched it. The one is the fact that the East Head burger is crumbly rather than firm. Whilst I cant really be certain I think I prefer my burger to hold together and I think I will have to return to the Heads to put that theory to the test. The other reason and the one that I believe is more important in these difficult days, is that the Cruise Burger is marginally cheaper.
[edit] 6/5/11
Lunar Cafe serves an interesting burger in a homemade bun. It comes in a professional looking paper wrap which you munch at the way a burger is supposed to be eaten, hands on. There is a tasty sauce, which if I remember is mushroom based and that sneaks out of the corner of the wrap and can become a problem if not dealt with promptly and efficiently.

We did the Sirocco burger again and it was more burger like this time. The seasoning used in the patty is interesting and tasty but the chef has a problem gauging what is medium and what is not. My suspicion is that the patties are frozen before going into the pan. Whatever it is, besides both having the taste, the first burger looked nothing like the subsequent follow up. So much so we even tried the chicken burger to see if that is what I had eaten on the first bite.

But no, that was a merely a humble chicken breast in a bun and I question whether the original burger I had was not cooked in a microwave. It still had the straight up and down sides from what I suspect was a patty mould and was pale in complexion. Whereas the latest version was grilled but still red inside which the wife baulked at.

Cruise Cafe – Serve a substantially good burger with skinny chips

East Head Cafe – My other choice

Ile de pain – Suspect this has to be the biggest and most expensive. It comes draped in their distinctive tomato and onion sauce.

Bosun’s – Has an interesting flavour. Suspect it is primed with a little too much Worcester sauce and I am not sure whether it does the job or not

The Bell – Used to like the Bell Burger but the last one I had was cold and I doubt the patty is homemade. Too much binding, too rubbery.

Sirocco – Great view and a tasty burger. Jono at eight years old reckons it tops his list but for me it had straight up and down sides and it was an odd consistency. Not crumbly and certainly not grainy and firm

Falcon Creek Spur – Claims to be the best but have never put it to the test

I prepare my burgers with milk soaked bread, lashings of oyster and Thai mushroom soy sauce, tomato puree and sugar to taste. Would be most interested to find out what goes into everyone elses as well as any recomedatiuons that need tryinmg out. Olde’s for example.

Think that will be the next one I go for.

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Who is Next?

The Rex has gone. No surprises there but the Ocean Basket and Cafe Rossini have also followed suit and shut up shop. So too has the Sizzling Chicken which limped onto the stage shortly after the demise of Nando’s. And the question is Who is Next?

The World Cup passed us by without so much as a whisper and the intervening months have been dismal by anyone’s standards. So the question I would ask is whether the rumours are correct and are there are going to be another three restaurants and four coffee shops opening in the new mall? I know that Lunar Cafe was planning to relocate. But I just don’t understand how anyone could possibly contemplate opening in a market which is already saturated and severely over traded.

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Something special

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!

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Cafe Talk

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.

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Wholesome and Hearty Soups

[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.

[edit 22/11/10]
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?


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Cafe Talk

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,

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Joplins Steak Bar

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.

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Flamed Chicken

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

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Oysters & Tapas

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.

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Cafe Talk

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
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