Born of a union between South African chef Corelie and her Syrian husband, Sam(uel) Sami, Carola Ann’s in Mossel Bay captures this heritage in an exciting way. Corelie handles all the food-related things and Sam runs the show and operates as the in-house barista.
Best for: Flavoursome daytime feasting
Cost: Average main course is R120
Food type: Mediterranean food with Middle Eastern and South African twists
Star rating: Food and drink 4; service 4; ambience 4
A blackboard packed with enticing food ideas greets you as you enter the small yet inviting space. There’s no doubt about the culinary influences here, with options including wraps filled with roasted sumac eggplant, baby marrow, fresh tomato, mint, halloumi and yoghurt tahini sauce. There’s also tandoori-spiced chicken with mango, coriander, pickled onion, cucumber, herbs and yoghurt. The selection is even better on a Saturday because both the breakfast and lunch menu are available until closing time.
A slow-cooked tomato beef short-rib ragù on creamy polenta with rocket and avo on the lunch side might catch your eye, while enticing breakfast dishes include home-made hummus with Middle-Eastern-spiced beef mince, topped with toasted cashews and parsley, and served with crisp Arabic bread. (The suggestion is to add a poached egg with za’atar.) The Arabian also appeals, which comprises hummus on health toast with roasted tomatoes, rocket and feta, and comes topped with two poached eggs with za’atar, to which you could add sautéed mushrooms. Fans of these spices will be in heaven. Produce is sourced from the area, where possible, and the menu changes often.
The sweet offering sings with a raw chocolate, almond and date truffle, Carola Ann’s baked cheesecake, a cupcake of the day or baked banana cheesecake with salted caramel sauce. Every plate is jam-packed with flavour and exotic tastes that feel at home in this coastal town.
It’s a small but sassy wine menu, with choices like Perdeberg Dry Land Collection Shiraz and Conradie Penhill Sauvignon Blanc. They keep a keen eye on customer preferences. You could simply opt for one of the inspirational smoothies like a Turmeric Sunrise with banana, dates, almonds, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon, or Berry Lovin’ made with strawberries, blueberries, mint and banana.
Carola Ann’s is an intimate venue that seats 40, so the service is personable, with the chef interacting with diners and keeping a close eye. It’s family-based and it shows on every level. They will engage if you do or leave you to get on with it.
It’s cleverly designed and decorated, and you will leave inspired by the people, the place and the cuisine.
Carola Ann’s opens in the evenings on occasions such as the first Friday of the month, with a completely different, more formal, menu. From time to time, there’s a Syrian evening where Arabic food with a contemporary twist is served. You can also look forward to private functions and outside catering.
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