It’s been one year since the Nice Neighbour food truck claimed a permanent parking spot on the Garden Route, and foodies have rejoiced ever since. Situated at the famous Old Nick Village along the N2 in Plettenberg Bay, this food-truck-turned-restaurant, micro-bakery and coffee shop has become a haven for famished travellers and Garden Route locals alike. Indeed, a Nice Neighbour to all…
Epicurean nomads and husband-and-wife foodie force Ciaran and Tanya McCarthy took over the Old Nick Cafe in December 2020, breathing life into the fresh food offering in Plettenberg Bay. Their seasonal menu is inspired by the garden on the Old Nick premises and includes dishes and flavours of their favourite global cuisines.
“Ciaran, especially, loves to add a Middle-Eastern touch to dishes,” Tanya says. This is evident in the expertly curated and restrained menu, which includes fresh and light options alongside a few hearty crowdpleasers.
Their famous chickpea and herb falafel with fattoush salad and garlic yoghurt is served with freshly made Arabic flatbread, while the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich comes with coleslaw, bread and butter pickles, and tangy mayo. Both are definite hits.
All items on the menu are made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and oft enjoyed in the beautiful gardens of the Old Nick Village, especially in summer. Their moreish vegetarian platter with homemade falafel, goat’s cheese tartlet, baba ganoush, curried carrot mash, hummus, beetroot mash and flatbread is the perfect choice for picnicking on the lush lawns of the Old Nick Village garden. The McCarthy’s food truck roots give Nice Neighbour the laid-back edge to serve patrons anywhere on the premises. On colder days, however, the warm ambiance of the micro-bakery and café always draw the crowds inward.
“Even though we only opened our permanent café in December 2020, the Nice Neighbour concept has been coming along a while already,” Tanya says. “We had always had the dream of starting a restaurant together that we could call our own instead of doing it for someone else.”
For the last 16 years, the couple has worked in many hotels and restaurants around the globe, including England and Mozambique. They always knew, however, that they wanted to raise their youngsters Isabella (8) and Connor (6) in South Africa.
“In 2019, we started our Nice Neighbour food truck. It allowed us the opportunity to establish a brand and get our name out there, while we were still figuring out where exactly we wanted to settle,” Tanya says. Fast forward two rollercoaster years – including a global pandemic – and Nice Neighbour has become a beacon for their family and everyone who draws up a chair at their table.