Holiday dining: East London

The laid-back jewel of the Eastern Cape, East London is loved for its quiet white beaches and historical charm. Water sports are popular in this river port, including – for the less energetic – lifting your drink to your mouth. Mostly, East London is about breathing in the soft air and taking it easy. So we’ve done the hard work for you to find out where to eat there this holiday season.

Ballyhoo Bistro
Enjoy simple seafood fare like baskets of calamari, pots of mussels or grilled line fish and salad. Steaks, wraps, burgers and breakfasts complete the picture, while the eat-all-you-can prawn special lures the locals back. Relax on the deck and watch the sun set over the harbour before the vibe picks up at night. After lunch, step on a cruise boat or go shark-diving.

Casa Verde
Fresh, healthy and green, the food will put a guiltless smile on your dial. Scrambled organic eggs have never tasted this good, while some excellent French-inspired baking means you can linger longer for a slice of apple tarte tatin. Lunch includes gourmet sarmies in wheat and gluten-free varieties. It’s fun and funky, with the day’s specials chalked up on the board and freshly baked pastries overflowing the deli counter.

Grazia Fine Food and Wine
There’s something for everyone. The seafood section includes fresh line fish and lobster thermidor, while the grills section explains exactly how the extensive range of matured steaks will be served. It’s airy, modern and chic, with some of the best views of the East London beach promenade.

La Cuisinette
Fine dining here is given an Asian twist. In addition to excellent pork belly pork rolled in prunes, tongue in mustard sauce, or the freshest of line fish selections, expect some inspired Indian and Thai curries. The ingredients are fresh and prepared with care, the grilling excellent and the spicing hits just the right note. This stylish yet comfortable fine dining allows you to forget you’re in a shopping centre.

Le Petit
The menu is a celebration of fine cuts of meat and game, spiced up with some French dishes like frog legs and escargot. While buffalo, crocodile, eland, springbok and ostrich give it hearty South African flavour, the veal dishes of Italy and a few good curries of the east are also represented. It’s comfortable and atmospheric at night. Pop into the cosy pub for good value lunchtime grub like steak, egg and chips.

Michaela’s of Cintsa
A small menu includes fresh and seasonal ingredients, with interesting twists on favourite flavours. Seafood and game get the royal treatment: think shrimp, crab and apple salad; or scallops in herbed wine, followed by springbok carpaccio or ostrich medallions. Sunday buffets and or set menus for larger parties offer exceptional value.

Nina Deli
Breakfasts are brilliant, and go beyond the usual eggs Benedict. Lunches are fresh and – where possible – organic. Super salads and gourmet sandwiches on home-baked bread are always popular, while hot dishes include the likes of pork fillet with leeks. It’s a simple, homely restaurant with mix and match wood tables, art on the walls and plenty of lively conversation.

Honest Cantonese cooking is well executed at this decidedly modern Chinese eatery. The sushi bar offers a range of rolls – the tuna nigiri is tops and the platters are generous. For Chinese fare, try the chop suey and the crispy fish and chicken with cashews and chilli. ? ?

Two Dogs Bistro and Wine Bar
Modern bistro fare is the hallmark of chefs Oliver Coetzee and Jannie Melis, who can be seen at work in the open kitchen. You’re bound to find something tempting like lamb shank tagine; pork and lemon grass cakes; eland loin with kumquat compote; or Moroccan lamb liver with celery mash. The exposed brick, pictures of meat cuts hanging on the wall, funky colours and open kitchen are eclectic and postmodern.

Zhong Hua
Mix and match your meal from more than 150 dishes. All the traditional Chinese favourites (from wonton soup to Peking duck) are to be found, alongside top-notch sushi and a large teppanyaki bar. Booking is a good idea, otherwise a wide-ranging takeaway menu will also satisfy.

Image: Getty

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