Jessica, Emily and I paid a long overdue visit to Butterfly World back in July, and after a nice lengthy walkabout of butterfly spotting and guinea pig stroking, I decided that we now wanted something to eat. So, I was rather pleased to discover that there is actually quite a nice lunch option situated right next door to the animal sanctuary these days – in the form of one Villa Visaggio’s.
Set up primarily as a stylish venue intended for weddings, conferences, corporate parties and other event gatherings, Villa Visaggio’s is also home to a really nice restaurant – featuring a decent menu packed with well priced, particularly good food. (I had their Mexican burger on the day, and I have to say, it was pretty damn delicious.)
Although not necessarily spacious enough (in terms of grounds) to be labelled as a kid friendly restaurant, there is however a small play area (complete with jumping castle) out back (though not visible from the dining area), and the menu certainly does a great job of doubling up as a neat little colouring page.
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All in all, I rather enjoyed stumbling upon this new option for our annual Butterfly World visit, and honestly, it might just be enough to lure Chantelle to also come out butterfly spotting with us for a change! ;)
Following a day spent up in Johannesburg for a meeting with one of the big banks for a potential project with them, Chantelle and I stole a moment of alone time by heading out for a midweek lunch at the slightly hard to find, but oh so worth it when you do, Foodmandu – a delightful little Indian restaurant startup tucked away towards the end of Gordon’s Bay.
Situated in the Cape Gordonia building (across from the old harbour), Foodmandu, a relatively new addition to the Gordon’s Bay food scene (which is strangely much larger than what technically it should be, given how small our little “village” is), was opened by a couple of staff members who left the popular Moksh Indian restaurant out in Somerset West, bringing with them their exceptional knowledge of North Indian cuisine.
That much is apparent when you work your way through the extensive but cleverly put together menu, literally filled with all manner of mouthwatering curries, kormas and masalas. Chicken, lamb, rice, rotis and naan breads – the flavours are simply out of this world (or are at least for people like me who don’t usually get to enjoy much Indian food in the first place), making a visit to eat there a must if you ever find yourself in Gordon’s Bay with a taste for something other than the typical fish, pizza or a burger on offer.
Although the venue’s location and the lack of a liquor licence are definitely both hard challenges for this little eatery to overcome, I kind of really hope that they do. Foodmandu brings with it a welcome new flavour to eating out in Gordon’s Bay and if I have to bring with my own bottle of wine to do it (for now), then that is okay with me.
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Note: There is no corkage charged and although the most lovely hosts at Foodmandu may not sell you any liquor, they are more than happy to nip out across the road to source you some should you need it. Also, it is probably a good idea to listen to their suggestions when it comes to selecting a curry. Hot is hot!
If you are out and about exploring in Cape Town with the kids, and now find yourself in need of something to eat but don’t necessarily really feel like being in the more bustling, touristy parts of the city, then take note – Deer Park Cafe in Vredehoek is an absolute gem.
Situated on the upper slopes of Vredehoek, overlooking the city whilst guarded by the mountain above, Deer Park Cafe is a wonderfully relaxed city bowl eatery that is super popular with families thanks to it bordering on the fenced, welcoming Rocklands Road Park, a well maintained public park lined with trees and filled with loads of swings, jungle gyms and plenty of picnic worthy grass.
The food is artisan, delicious and well priced, the craft beer and wine selection good (I thought the Kings Craft Brewing Co’s LionHeart Lager particularly excellent) – so basically the perfect combination for a great casual dining experience then. The view, the relaxed ambiance, the public park – no wonder our girls (following a day out at the Company’s Garden, the Iziko South African Museum, and the Iziko Planetarium) enjoyed this unplanned stop as much as what they did.
Pro-tip: Go early on a weekend – these guys get pretty busy, pretty fast.
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Oh, and apparently the cakes are pretty damn good as well.
Following our day of exploring the USS Midway and the Cabrillo National Monument, Johann thought it a good idea to cap off the evening with an entertaining supper at the local Shogun Kobe. I couldn’t have agreed with him more.
If you are not familiar with the name, essentially the Shogun group of restaurants (established in 1980 in Pasadena by founder Bruce Kanenobu) are fashioned very much after the more famous Benihana group of American restaurants (which we’ve all seen on old TV and in 80’s movies), all of which are basically (heavily) Japanese themed restaurants that specialize in producing Japanese-inspired cuisine – the big drawcard being that the food is prepared by an entertaining, kitchen implement swishing chef on Teppanyaki grill right in front of you.
It is delightfully cheesy, a little silly, and honestly quite a lot of fun.
Our chef on the evening was quite entertaining, skillfully flipping, dicing and flicking ingredients all over the place, with appropriate spurts of flames and coloured lights making an appearance every so often. Us diners all sat enthralled, the Western-style teppanyaki food (Americans would never take to authentic Japanese flavours) was surprisingly delicious, and the house wine not too horrible.
So, a pretty good evening out then in other words.
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It is a pity then that the whole teppanyaki experience isn’t widely found in South Africa at all – I honestly believe that it could be a bit of a hit with family diners.
I’ve mentioned them before, but heading down to the harbour to enjoy some fish and chips at the Sea Gypsy Cafe in Mossel Bay has become somewhat of a family tradition whenever we all find ourselves up in the area. Thus, my weekend away with the girls, my folks and my brother Ryan back in March this year ended on that exact note.
Situated just outside the main harbour entrance, right across the small Biblia house, the Sea Gypsy Cafe is a lively spot with both an indoor and outdoor eating setup, a place where the vibe is good, the beer always flows, and fish and chips appear all around you.
Unless of course you ordered something else that is.
Historically I’ve always gone for the classic fish and chips, but recently Dad has converted me into grabbing one of their baskets instead, which contains a nice mix of fish, chips, crumbed mushrooms and calamari.
All ready to be washed down with some fantastic Glenhoff beer (that they have on tap). Spoiler alert: it is all rather good.
They have a good view over the bay (Santos beach is just across the water), the food is quite ‘lekker’ and in general it is a pretty good place to meet up with friends and spend an afternoon catching up.
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And then if you are anything like us – it is back into the car and on the road for the good 4.5 hour long drive home. Which on this occasion was a lot longer thanks to all the stop and go controls in place. (Am rather enjoying the new N2 road surface though!)
Extra Credit: I mentioned the little Biblia house across from the Sea Gypsy Cafe near the start of this post. If you are aren’t familiar with the group, BIBLIA is a Christian non-profit organization that sees to the spiritual and overall well-being of seafarers coming into South Africa. While their home base is the Cape Town harbour, the movement claims to have a presence in every major South African port, meaning that they should be a reasonably familiar sight for you to encounter when visiting any of SA’s larger harbours.
Having supplanted Manuka a couple of years ago now, Southey’s Family Bistro is a super popular breakfast and lunch spot for families in the heart of Somerset West, thanks in no small part to their large back garden, outdoor seating and super kid friendly facilities (think jumping castles and slippy slides in Summer).
(The fact that they sport a well stocked boutique wine shop doesn’t hurt either!)
Seeing as this is such a popular spot for families to gather around then, we invited Chantelle’s mom and dad to drive out and join us for a spot of breakfast one March Saturday morning, which they happily agreed to – meaning that we were then left holding thumbs for a windstill, sunny day.
Which pleasingly is exactly how the day turned out to be.
Now we don’t normally go out for breakfast, meaning that on the few occasions that we do actually find ourselves at a restaurant for brekkie, it is always nice to grab something that I don’t normally get to have around the table in the morning – so this time around it just so happened that Southey’s Eggs Benedict kind of tickled my fancy.
Spoiler alert, it was plain, simple, and rather nice.
Anyway, Emily played on the jungle gym, Jessica ran amok with my phone camera, and in general, a pleasant morning was had by all.
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After breakfast we needed to pop in to CABS to do a bit of ingredient shopping for Chantelle’s baking business, giving me the perfect opportunity to poke my head into the popular new addition to the Helderberg Things to Do with Kids list – the Blades Roller Skating Rink!
I’m pleased to report that it looks rather awesome and that Jessica immediately made me promise that I would take her as soon as another weekend freed up again! ;)
If you are ever out in the Port Elizabeth area and find yourself in need of a good kid friendly restaurant option, be extra sure to pay the exceedingly cool Grass Roof farm stall and coffee shop a visit.
Situated on the Olive Tree Farm, just a few kilometers from Sardinia Bay, the Grass Roof is a coffee shop, kids playground, trendy cafe, and farm stall all rolled into one. Open Monday to Sunday, the eatery strives to promote a healthy, organic lifestyle, with a lot of its food menu and farm stall offering sourced directly from the gardens and fields of its host farm.
In addition to all the fresh produce and baked items (it is a proper smorgasbord of tasty stuff), the farm shop is stocked with all manner of deli surprises, authentic crafts and handmade items.
The rolling lawn in front of the restaurant provides the perfect play area, which is complete with a number of fun kids activities like old tractors, climbing frames, etc. (There is even a giant adult swing if you are keen on also joining in on the fun!)
Then we get to the restaurant/cafe itself. First off, the menu is amazing. Well presented, evocative descriptions, and a final product to back it all up, makes for an exceptional light meal experience. From pizzas to gourmet burgers, from craft beer to freshly brewed Mastersons Coffee – Grass Roof’s kitchen team has you covered.
Also, the view from the deck is pretty damn decent too!
And yes, just as the name implies, all of this happens under a bright green, grass covered roof!
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It is no wonder then that this is easily one of Chantelle’s favourite spots on the list of places visited over the course of our 2017 roadtrip holiday. Definitely worthy of a family get together or two!
(Also, eagle-eyed readers might have spotted that the last two photos in the gallery aren’t exactly of the Grass Roof visit. As it so happened, we actually stayed with our good friends – and tour guides – the Grangers during the P.E. stint, and of course, Evan being Evan, time simply HAD to be made for a braai or two!)
Standing right next to the newly opened Reddam House Somerset West boarding school, Somerset Lakes is a pretty good looking gated residential estate that has sprouted up on the outskirts of Somerset West – mind you, as a LOT of others have also done over the last handful of years!
Anyway, the only reason that I’ve ever even been inside this nice estate is thanks to the fact that the Somerset Lakes clubhouse is home to a rather nice, open to the public, restaurant, trading under the name The Lake House at Somerset Lakes.
They serve a fantastic array of pizzas and other light meal options, are home to a brilliant Sunday roast lunch, and of course stock some fabulous wines (which makes sense if you consider that the owners also run the hugely popular Southey’s Family Bistro, also in Somerset West).
Combining all of the above with the estate’s design aesthetic and its picture perfect lake center piece, it then quickly becomes obvious why we rather enjoy paying a visit there every now and then!
One of our last visits to the Lake House Restaurant (November last year) saw us inviting Chantelle’s folks to join us for lunch, all of which went rather well (the food was a hit!) despite the girls for a change not being on their normal standard of best behaviour – plus a rather unexpected visit from an inquisitive but cool as a cucumber stray goose.
With lunch now concluded, the next logical step (as it should always be when you visit there) was to head out along the boardwalk for a stroll around the lake. Amazingly, given that we had experienced a shower or two in the days prior to our visit, the lake was looking in a lot better shape than the last time that we had encountered it, and it was great to see all the local bird populations (who call Somerset Lakes home) in such good form.
The landscaped gardens were in bloom, a short stop at the jungle gym and outdoor fitness gym was enjoyed, and of course the entire visit was capped off with some clamber and play session in the estate’s little pine forest plantation that hides a treasure trove of obstacle course equipment within.
Pretty impossible not to recommend this place to be honest!
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(In all honesty though, I’m not sure how long a private residential estate will continue to host a public restaurant, but given how much I enjoy it, I’m holding thumbs that this place sticks around for as long as possible!)
The last time that we had visited the Old Gaol on Church Square restaurant in Swellendam it was raining. And we walked out with a delicous milk tart. This time however it wasn’t raining. And we were instead with my father, who was graciously giving us a lift back to Gordon’s Bay following our little George holiday detour.
In a way it is a bit of a pity that the Old Gaol restaurant no longer resides in the old jail over at Swellendam’s Drostdy Museum, because then obviously the name makes a lot of sense. However the restaurant’s new(ish) location in the historically significant building on Church Square makes for a good enough replacement – perhaps even better given the great outdoor space now on offer.
Given the good weather, we found a nice table in the shade, partook in the Old Gaol on Church Square’s reasonably good roosterkoek hamburgers whilst cooling down with an age appropriate assortment of beers, sodas and milkshakes – all while giving the legs a neat little stretch.
The restaurant appears to have undergone a bit of a face lift, with updated branding, a new menu and a staff complement which felt a little more snappy compared to the last time that we visited.
All in all, another pretty neat lunch time stop in Swellendam then.
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Pro Tip: Can’t find the restaurant? It is literally across the road from the magnificent NG Church that dominates Swellendam’s main road! (Also, the old carriage standing out in front makes for a decent marker as well.)