A DREAMY setting at one of the world’s most naturally beautiful spots; bright, cheerful service; and fresh, quality food put East Head Café in the must-see category.
Make no mistake, it’s a very casual spot, a real summery, seaside space and the menu is a comprehensive collection of easy-eating classics, but the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.
This is, in no small measure, thanks to its position.
It’s right on the rocks at Knysna’s dramatic Heads, where two headlands nearly meet but leave a narrow gap into the Knysna lagoon through which the sea surges and boats scurry.
East Head Café has a covered exterior deck with prime views of this natural wonder, while the plainly decorated but fresh interior is not short of views either.
South Africa has a number of eateries with superb settings but where the management’s attitude is that the setting is the beginning and end of the value.
Not here. On arrival, the greeting is warm and efficient and remains attentive.
It’s one of those places that’s multipurpose, be it a coffee, breakfast, lunch or a snack — and there’s consequently a constant buzz in the air.
Breakfasts are as simple as anchovy toast and range through health options into rich Hollandaise-sauced eggs and big omelettes. Burgers are given a large part of the menu, followed by prego rolls and sandwiches, while “lunch” offers steak and chips, peri-peri prawns, ploughman’s platter and a big selection of salads and vegetarian dishes (such as enchiladas and quiche).
A large kids’ menu makes this a perfect family option, which makes sense for a holiday town. But the heart of the menu is the seafood, which is perfectly epitomised by their fish and chips.
I’ve tried this plate on a few occasions and it never disappoints — lightly battered and perfectly cooked, the fish is succulent while the chips are fat and golden.
I supplemented this meal with a Caesar salad and this was raised to the next level by crisp pancetta instead of the usual lazy shards of dried-out bacon.
A wine list titled “Very Casual Wines by the Carafe” summarises how well the team here understands its raison d’être.
The only odd note was the imported bottled water, when the menu makes a commendable note of indicating where they source local ingredients with a “Go Local” icon.
For: Iconic location and tables that make the most of it, very good casual food. Against: Very, very busy in season (which the proprietor can do little about).
Rating: Four-and-a-half out of five stars.