New review: vegan dining in Cape Town at Plant

There is no denying that the vegan way of living has garnered loads of interest in the last few years. Locally, vegans have been yearning for a place to call their own within the City Bowl. Luckily Plant Café opened their doors earlier this year. A haven for vegans and vegetarians where you can order freely from the menu without having to worry if kitchen utensils were shared with animal based ingredients, or if your vegan dish was in fact cooked on a grill used for cooking meat.

Beyond being 100% vegan, it’s also the perfect spot for a summer lunch, as the fresh ingredients make for bright and inviting plates of food. Finally, it’s a good place to have on your radar if you’re looking to lose the cream and butter in preparation for beach season.

The food:

Choose from the menu displayed above the glass display counter (filled with vegan baked goods) or browse through the pamphlet-style menus. The latter contains handy symbols to indicate whether dishes contain nuts or soy, and where gluten-free options are available.

The menu covers quite a few bases, with options like black bean quesadillas, health wraps and Asian-style rice and mushroom dishes.

Capetonians in the know are already talking about the spicy mushroom rice paper rolls – and for good reason. Consisting of teriyaki mushrooms, buckwheat noodles, avocado and spicy cashews wrapped in rice rolls, they are a fragrant and surprisingly filling treat. There’s lots of texture here – earthy mushrooms meet creamy avo meets crunchy nuts. The two dipping sauces, one a sweet chilli and the other a miso ginger dressing, really complements the mushrooms and the neutral flavours of the rice paper and buckwheat. This is a winning meal.

The exterior of Plant Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The exterior of Plant Cafe. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Buddha Box is a flavourful dish of tofu, covered lavishly in black sesame seeds, and served on a bed of brown rice with a few spears of tender baby corn, beans and carrots. Another delicious option is the Health Wrap, a lightly toasted wrap with marinated tofu, fresh salad greens, carrots, gherkins and avocado, adorned with a moreish hummus dressing.

Generous portions are beautifully presented, and accompanied by dressings full of zing and umami – this is anything but boring rabbit food.

If you’re after something sweet, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We tried every dessert available, the standout being a delicious raw cake of the day; a creamy tart with hints of cherry and coconut. A nicely textured chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter icing also went down well, and then there are some raw truffles on display. The promising-sounding fudge brownie needs 30 minutes to bake, so that’s an order that will have to wait for a return visit – which will happen for sure.

The drinks:

The thing to do is order the delicious cold pressed juices on offer. Made beforehand, they are delivered to the table in individual glass bottles. The red juice contains beetroot and ginger, while the green juice provides a healthy blend of green fruit and veggies with a twist of mint. There’s also an array of smoothies on offer, which can be combined with added boosters. The latter includes shots of chia seeds, hemp protein, Goji berries and more.

The service:

Staff members are friendly, welcoming and helpful; a shared plate of dessert orders was brought to the table already divided in portions. The only off-note was that some of the dishes weren’t available – which would be nice to know before you place your order.

The ambience:

Located in the Bo-Kaap and overlooking busy Buitengraght, the space is small and narrow, but welcoming, with pops of bright green to advertise the eatery’s approach. The interior ­– a functional, calm space – tends to be quite dim, but lovers of light can seat themselves at the window counter or grab one of the outside tables. The casual atmosphere makes it a pleasant spot to sit and linger.

And …

For vegans yearning for alternatives to animal products the cafe sells vegan mozzarella, tasty mushroom biltong, take-away desserts and many other handy items to add to the pantry.

Owner Adien Aggenbach reveals that plans are afoot to open another branch in November this year, with more of an evening focus.

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