Every time I travel I make it my goal to find as many new vegan restaurants as I possibly can. And every time I return to the same city, there’s always more. As this was my first trip to South Africa, I didn’t know what to expect. From what I’d heard, some people here thought chicken was a vegetable and that butter didn’t come from a cow. Veganism was a foreign language and people who didn’t eat ice-cream were aliens… and biltong was the norm. Biltong.
Potentially one of the most horrendous foods I’ve ever laid my eyes on, biltong is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e over here. Picture beef jerky on steroids. And it being thicker, dirtier and more commonplace… and half the time covered in flies. With biltong apparently it can be a bit of a lucky dip. You may get ostrich. Or it could be beef. Maybe it’s shark. Or springbok. Ya’ never know! It sits on bars and benches in bowls as nuts or cashews would back home. Absolutely putrid, but apparently popular. W….T…..F.
Sids (my partner) and I had really struggled in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. For example, in PE I asked for a salad sandwich with no butter, and plants ONLY as the filling. It was brought out to me with cheese, bacon and butter. WTF a-gain! I proceeded to have five different meals from five different restaurants after that which all had to be sent back. They just didn’t get it. Hotel life isn’t as glamorous as people make it out to be and finding restaurants or food that cater to a vegan diet (or know what it is) can be quite hard to find in countries like South Africa.
Moving forward, the countries reputation rested in the more European-ish Cape Town (aka Cape Christ-give-me-some-quality-food). There were almost tears of joy and puddles of saliva when we pulled into the first vegan pit stop on my drool-stained visit list – Plant Café.
The entirely vegan menu at Plant Cafe is out of this world. The overall setting of the place was Melbourne-ish and had a very welcoming and humble feel to it. Tick. I had the breakfast wrap with a tofu scramble, caramelised onions, quinoa, home-smoked tempeh bacon and sealed with homemade vegan cream cheese. Heaven-on-earth. I washed it down with a spicy mango and lime smoothie consisting of chilli (yes, chilli – no typo there), ice, mango, nutmeg, lime, hempseed and flaxseed. Liquid gold! It was SO nice to be eating proper food again.
Another absolute belter on the menu was the Mint-Chocolate Chip smoothie made with rice milk, mint, spinach, banana, protein, ice and raw cacao chips. Extra thick and extra delicious.
Plant Café made me take my first step back over the fence and helped me bury the horrifying visionary of biltong still lingering in my brain. A vegan delight open for breakfast and lunch (with amazing raw desserts as well) during the week and a place any vegan in CT should pay a visit too. Lovely, attentive staff, a clean, earthy environment and amazing, fresh and healthy food – what more could you want!
Urban Hub – 142 Buitengracht St,