Monday, June 22nd, 2020
Reviewed by Louise Liebenberg
Established in 1978, the Coachman is one of the Bay’s oldest and most-loved restaurants. It’s been in its present location on the Port Elizabeth beachfront for about eight years, where founding owners George and Dawn Castis, now both in their 70s, ensure it remains an establishment of elegance and excellence.
Though the Coachman has a large and varied menu, it’s best known for steaks, seafood, burgers and good-quality sauces. Start with the baby garides – six prawns basted in a tangy Greek sauce, pan-fried and served on savoury rice. Other options include a prawn cocktail and crumbed mushrooms.
The Dawn – grilled rump smothered in creamy garlic sauce – is one of the top orders for mains, and you can ask for a nice piece of fat on your steak too, if that’s your bag. If you don’t favour red meat, the Kota Flambé – chicken fillet pan-fried in lemon, butter and paprika sauce – will satisfy. Portions are generous, but plating old-fashioned, and those with special dietary requirements are poorly catered for.
Desserts such as malva pudding, dom pedro and cherry flambé are nostalgia-heavy, but the baklava crammed with nuts and evocative flavours is the real deal.
The drinks list is vast, with a great number of mostly conventional wine and spirit options, including some fine single malts. The only by-the-glass options are garden-variety house wines. You won’t find craft beer here, though a handful of local gins have been introduced in recent times.
The Coachman has perfected the art of service. Front-of-house never miss a thing, and waitrons are impeccable in approach and attire. The waitresses wear shimmery blue evening dresses, which can seem anachronistic.
This large restaurant is busy most days and nights, even Sundays and Mondays when eating out isn’t a priority for the locals. Its location overlooking Humewood beach and the stretch towards the harbour makes it very accessible to tourists. The views are among PE’s best but the interior colour scheme, featuring various shades of blue, can get heavy.
A celebratory dinner with the folks or in-laws.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.