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New review: Sanook Café continues to please the crowds in East London

With its thin-based pizzas, inventive burgers and friendly, neighbourhood feel, Sanook keeps the crowds coming back for more, says Petro Lotz.

The food

This eatery has been going for just over two years and continues to deliver consistent quality. Their thin-based pizzas are well known in town, with favourites being the Loverboy (fig, camembert, rocket and springbok carpaccio) and the Prostituto (cream cheese base, bacon, spinach and feta). They also do a gluten-free pizza base. Snack boards are popular as table starters or lunch fare. Amongst the generous salads, the Asian Invasion stands out, with chilli, seared beef fillet slices and a tasty sesame seed dressing. And a special mention must go to the burgers: The Hunter (a venison patty topped with aioli and red onion marmalade), The Moroccan (a lamb patty with mint and exotic spices), The Rockstar (a beef patty with avo, feta, bacon) and the Dutchman (a boerewors patty, biltong and homemade tomato sauce). The Hippy will also make any vegetarian’s heart sing with joy, with grilled black mushrooms, brinjal, baby marrow, goat’s cheese and, again, the delicious homemade tomato sauce. The burgers all come with a choice of potato wedges, skinny fries, salad or the signature deep-fried sweet potato shavings that only the most determined dieter can resist. (Gluten-free burger rolls are available.)

Caramelised onion burger

Caramelised onion burger

The drinks

The wines are affordable and easy drinking fare, with many available by the glass. (The only bit of criticism would be that the red wine tends to be served too warm, due to storage facilities.) They also stock locally brewed artisan beer, Emerald Vale, as well as a large selection of South African and Bavarian varieties. The cocktail menu offers a welcome respite from the humid East London summer heat.

 The service

Most patrons agree that it’s the service that makes them come back again and again. The owners are always present and have their fingers on the pulse of all procedures. The restaurant’s small enough for them to make it to each table a few times during the course of service, which creates an interactive, friendly, neighbourhood feel. Waitrons have been handpicked and are well trained, efficient and courteous.

The ambience

Sanook is situated off a busy street, with wooden tables and benches in a quaint alley and two indoor dining rooms decorated in a minimalistic style with wood and neutral colours. The alley courtyard is the most popular, with big trees swathed in fairy lights and blankets and outdoor heaters supplied on chilly evenings.

The interior at Sanook

The interior at Sanook

And…

The pace is always buzzing with activity. Business lunch meetings last into the afternoon and couples drop in for an early meal after work, their places filled as they leave by families and friends coming for an evening out. Sanook is a friendly, happy eatery that serves good quality food – and plenty of it – at an affordable price.

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