Holiday dining: Plettenberg Bay

The word ‘Plett’ conjures up unspoiled beaches stretching to the horizon, lush indigenous forests with abundant wildlife and, of course, the delicate pansy shell. Contrasting with all this calm serenity, the bay is also one of the most popular sites for matric rage, when all the newly graduated youths escape the confines of school and their parents.

The official rage festivities end on Friday 9 December, so by now the throbbing music is long gone and the hormones have dissipated from the air, making the coastal town safe to visit once more. Here’s where you can dine out while pleasure-seeking in Plett.

The only wine estate along the Garden Route, Bramon is known for its dry sparkling sauvignon blanc, and new sauvignon offering, The Crags. Snoek fishcakes, chicken kebabs, and potato and leek soup are hearty options on the long list of tapas. Guests create their own platters to share, along with crusty bread and salads. Charming owners Caroline and Peter Thorpe and their friendly staff make sure you’re happy and comfortable while you spot silhouettes of elephants on the nearby hill.

Cornuti Al Mare Restaurant and Bar
Pizza, the centerpiece of this eatery, comes with anything you can think of, including Nutella. Fresh fish is nicely done, calamari from the nearby sea is crisp and light, and desserts are for fun like chocolate and banana spring rolls. The spacious white-washed room has blackboard menus and high ceilings that fill up with noise along with the crowds. The deck is the best spot for enjoying the sunset.

Emily Moon Restaurant
Tradition reigns on the standard menu with choices like rump steak in peppercorn sauce, fillet, grilled fish, crème brûlée and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. However, there are a few diversions, like the tuna and sesame spring roll starter. Visit for the impossibly romantic view of the winding Bitou and the quirky interior full of collectibles.

Fu.Shi Fusion Cuisine
The sushi is luscious – try the crispy salmon skin and avocado roll. Simple preparations like seared salmon with lemongrass-infused rice are consistently good and sweets such as cardamom panna cotta delight. The interior is calm and understated with a large fish tank for interest.

The Grand
The Grand’s small menu is sophisticated and appealing. Dishes like fresh fish, calamari, mussels, delicate tempura prawns and exceptional steak have always been reliable. Easily the best feature of The Grand Café is the shabby chic décor, along with stunning sea views from the deck.

Kitchen Café
They offer a range of cuisines from Thai mussels to bouillabaisse, but the best bet might be the simple line-fish on mash or New York sirloin with homemade fries. The contemporary interior has slick views of sea through a wall of windows. The pizza counter shares the kitchen and has a solid reputation for thin-crusted yummy pies.

Kurland Hotel
Familiar dishes like rump steak, rack of lamb and linguine are done with flair, befitting Kurland’s status as a Relais & Châteaux hotel. There’s comfort and elegance at every turn. In the original manor house, Kurland’s signature roses warm the dining room. In lovely weather, drinks and meals can be enjoyed alfresco.

Le Fournil de Plett Bakery and Café
The bakery inside the restaurant means fresh goodies are always available. Tartines, open-faced sandwiches and classics like croque-monsieur plus savoury tarts make delightful lunches. Even simple avocado on rye toast is elevated to something special. On lovely days, the tree-covered patio is picturesque and comfortable.

Nguni Grill
A treasure trove of excellent flavours and creative dishes includes the eponymous nguni rib eye steak; ostrich ‘hot dog’ served with tomato smoorsous; and excellent seared tuna enhanced by a caper, coriander and lemon salsa. Rosa tomato, goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tarts for starters or lunch are not to be missed. This historic cottage on a side street, chicly turned out in black and white, is charming, relaxed, and serene.

Ristorante Enrico
Fresh from the sea is the way to go and the signature dish, Fish Enrico (line fish baked in a wine and garlic sauce), is recommended. Spectacular fresh seafood platters or mountains of calamari fritti are tempting too. Delicate insalata di mare (seafood salad) is made with real Italian know-how. This is one of the best seaside locations in the Garden Route. Kids can play on the beach while you wait for your meal. There’s a sports bar but the patio is the place to be. Don’t miss a grappa shot after your meal.

Sand at the Plettenberg
Here fine dining is in tune with the seasons and South African bounty. The food, prepared with refined sophistication, is satisfying. Ingredients like Mossel Bay sole, lamb, pork belly and free-range beef are sourced locally. The unstoppable view is best enjoyed on the terrace; start your evening with expertly-made cocktails at the adjacent Sandbar.

This is casual food cranked up a level. Try the perfectly textured hamburgers, battered hake and fries, and specials like lamb’s liver. The brie and Parma ham omelette is a super way to celebrate mornings, and meze platters served with fresh salad are great for grazers. Casual black and white décor is livened up with red walls, and the porch is great for large groups in summer.

Thyme and Again
The tasty buttery-crusted pies and quiches are fresh from the busy bakery’s oven and the bread is still warm. Wraps and salads are inventive with tasty combinations like teriyaki chicken and veggies with salsa. Tea with something sweet is also a good option here. The relaxing and unpretentious dining area is on a vine-covered stoep.

Zinzi at Tsala Treetop Villas
Primarily North African flavours dominate the menu; the star attraction is succulent Moroccan lamb served in a tagine. The chermoula chicken and Patagonian calamari are also tasty. There’s a pleasing mixture of modern African with plush, oversized dining chairs and views of the forest on the edge of the Hunter Estate.

Image by Kyknoord

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