Critic's review by Nelleke Elston (2017)
East Head Café has become a popular stop for local and international visitors to Knysna, both for the breathtaking views of the world-famous Knysna Heads and the delicious food. This owner-run café showcases local produce where possible and takes pride in making everything to-order. Sit at tables inside overlooking the crashing waves, or in the shade of the Milkwood canopy on the patio and enjoy the sea breeze.
This is a favourite breakfast spot with the locals, so come early. There’s something for everyone, from the classic eggs Hollandaise to spicy free-range chicken livers and creamy vanilla oats served with local honey and Rheenedal Macadamian nuts.
The crispy battered fish and chips served with homemade tartar sauce is rumored to be the best in town, and the gourmet burgers are not to be missed. There are also choices like the Forest Fresh mushroom burger – grilled topside beef topped with truffle mushroom sauce, and the Po’boy burger with pulled pork, prawn and apple slaw. A weekly revised specials board showcases seasonal produce and fresh seafood as it becomes available, with dishes like beer steamed mussels and marinated octopus with chimichurri sauce.
The coffee bar is lined with freshly baked cakes under glass domes like moist carrot cake, vanilla baked cheesecake, dense dark chocolate brownie slices and their most popular Bar One chocolate cake with its gooey centre. The dessert menu offers decadent spins on old favourites like the banana nut sundae or the meringue crush, which is seasonal fruit with soft-whipped cream and chunks of meringue.
For those wanting to end the meal on a more savoury note, there is the option of an artisanal cheese platter with local hand-crafted cheeses served with crackers and preserves.
Start the day with a freshly pressed juice of the day served in tall glass bottles with straws. The wine and beverage menu features an exceptional choice of local craft beers and ciders, various South African wines, alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails and speciality teas and coffees. Try the artisanal gin cocktails with original names like Kaap ‘n Naar.
The waiters are relaxed but knowledgeable about the menu, and professional. The small team works like a well-oiled machine and stays cool and calm even in the height of season.
In summer a cool sea breeze blows through the open windows, making it a perfect oasis to take cover from the warm sun. In winter a wood-fired oven keeps the café cosy. Children have a designated play area, equipped with toys and crayons, and can explore the paths leading down to the beach and rockpools.
The restaurant gets very busy in season and unfortunately don’t take reservations. Come early and be prepared to wait for a table.
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