American Express Essentials has released its list of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants around the world, and the Mother City’s own Plant Café sits proudly at number 12 on the list. Writes American Express: “Cape Town and the adjacent Winelands are known as a foodie destination and, thanks to farm-to-table restaurants with their own kitchen gardens, there’s usually a vegetarian choice on the menu. If you prefer an entirely animal-free dining experience, Plant offers up just that: plants, in a dizzying array of fresh and healthy dishes.”
The city-centre eatery has fast become one of the most popular vegan restaurants in Cape Town and has also made its way onto this year’s Eat Out 500 list. Eat Out critic Malibongwe Tyilo recently visited Plant Café for some green cuisine.
Cape Town vegans are pretty used to being low on options; most places that serve meat will offer one, two, or three meat-free options at the most. Plant is a real treat, with a multitude of strictly vegan options. There’s the breakfast menu, served until 2pm, which includes muffins, an omelette, French toast, traditional breakfast, tofu scramble and, my personal favourite, the breakfast wrap, which combines tempeh bacon, tofu scramble, caramelised onion and rocket in a flour tortilla with a ‘cream cheese’ spread. A good thing to remember is that tofu scramble is not egg, and while it attempts to mimic the texture, it will never be the perfect substitute, so it’s best to enjoy it for its own taste and added flavours, and you won’t be disappointed.
The lunch menu, which is served until 6pm, is even more varied, featuring wraps (the hickory-smoked black bean quesadilla is a must-try), burgers, salads, pastas, and sandwiches. On this particular day I settle on a ‘cheese’ and tomato toastie on ciabatta, with tempeh ‘bacon’ as an add-on. As with the tofu above, the sandwich truly shines when appreciated for its own taste – whilst the colour and texture look like cheese and bacon, the taste is different, not bad, just different. The cheese is creamier and the tempeh has a smoky flavour, and they complement each other well.
Other recommended options include the vish burger, a nori-encrusted potato steak served on ciabatta, and the sweet-and-sour tofu, undoubtedly a star on the dinner menu, which is served between 6pm and 10pm. Lastly, and certainly not least, are the various dessert options. Try the fudge brownie, which is a bite of thick, chewy, cruelty-free peanut ganache heaven.
There’s a wide range of wines, craft beer, spirits, and a few cocktails. But where the drinks selection truly shines is in the fresh cold pressed juices. There’s the green juice with apples, celery, cucumber and mint; the red juice with beet, ginger, and apples; and my personal favourite, the yellow juice, with carrots, apples and ginger. All come served in their own tall, chilled, glass bottles.
Although friendly, the service can be a bit on the slow side, with waiters that seem somewhat preoccupied.
There’s an easy-going vibe about the restaurant, and its bare wooden tables and counters add to the informality. The seating is below ground level, so there’s the feeling that you’re seated with the cool kids in a cool basement that not everyone is quite hip to yet.
Just in case you want to take the vegan experience home with you, Plant has a strong pantry offering: mayo, cheese melts, mozzarella cheese, and tempeh bacon to take away.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.