If you also love good food and comfortable dining like me, you will agree that very few establishments truly offer unique dining experiences nowadays. This is why I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the Island Café on Thesen Island in Knysna.
Of course, I had expectations since this establishment forms part of the 5-Star Turbine Hotel & Spa. My friends and I were eagerly awaiting our visit, we were also feeling rather famished after our drive that day.
We drove onto Thesen Island – a quiet, upmarket area I must add. After we parked our car at the hotel’s parking area, we meandered along the walkway before reaching the Island Café.
My friends and I looked at each other and smiled, as we knew we were in for an evening not to be forgotten.
The friendly staff showed us around the restaurant and also explained to us that the hotel was built on top of an old power station. It was amazing to witness the fact that the owners decided to incorporate the history of the area rather than simply dismantling such an important aspect of Knysna’s history.
The remaining pumps and pipes give the Island Café a real authentic feel, combining past and present thanks to their stylish décor that is found throughout. I certainly enjoyed my visit and I was blown away by their offering.
What’s on the menu at the Island Café?
The Island Café is a 90 seater establishment that overlooks the Thesen Island canals. Their staff have also put all of the necessary Covid-19 protocols in place.
You will find the a la carte menu at the Island Café both simplistic, yet diverse. It is clear to see that the chef focuses on taste and using quality ingredients when it comes to their meals.
They say that a smile goes a long way when it comes to service; well we were served by waiters that were both friendly and knowledgeable. Their attention to detail was greatly appreciated!
I was very impressed by their selection of gins at the restaurant, as many of them I have tasted previously and absolutely loved. I enjoyed a gin and tonic mix of Inverocche Verdant with cinnamon, lemon and Indian tonic as we decided on our meals.
We opted to share a starter as we were all quite hungry upon arriving. We enjoyed the Pulled Pork Belly Focaccia between the three of us and we all agreed it was a great decision. The Focaccia was the perfect size for a group to share, whilst the Pork Belly was flavoursome. The feta topping added to the superb taste.
My friends and I were undecided regarding what to order for the main. We asked our waiter who recommended their Pork Kassler. Whilst I appreciated his feedback, my heart was set on their Seafood Curry.
I had been craving a seafood curry for a long time and I could not miss out on the opportunity. The curry had fresh calamari, prawns and black mussels – all of which were cooked to perfection. The sauce was tasty and I enjoyed every mouthful.
The three of us still had place for dessert, just to cap off a great evening. I chose the vanilla bean panna cotta as that is something I had never tried before; it was an easy choice for me. The berry sauce complimented that panna cotta perfectly. This was an ideal meal to end off an evening.
All in all, the food was superb, the service was friendly and the décor was certainly unique – everything combined into an evening to be remembered.
The Turbine Hotel & Spa
The Turbine Hotel offers five star accommodation in Knysna. The hotel comprises of 26 rooms, two restaurants, spa and conferencing facilities.
The fact that the Thesen Island Canals lie alongside this luxury hotel makes for spectacular views. Many of their previous guests have commended the team for their level of service and expertise.
The Turbine Hotel also has a Gastro Pub which offers classic pub meals as well as stunning views of the sunset over the lagoon. Live music can also be enjoyed on Friday evenings at the Gastro Pub, whilst their craft beers and gins have made it a popular spot for friends to spend an evening.
Reviews from previous Island Café guests
“In fact that excellent, that we went twice for dinner in our two night stay in Knysna! Great food and wines. The staff is very attentive, must mention Terence as a gem for this place! A unique setting of this former power station with hotel Turbine, the result is amazing.
Very upmarket, highly recommended!” wrote Advisor170 on their TripAdvisor page.
Frandrich Kraamwinkel added; “Excellent food in a magical environment! The restaurant is set inside the old turbine room, with numerous tables placed in between the turbines and available on different floors. Very clean and neat. The staff is amazing (friendly and efficient) and the food is out of this world. Thorough enjoyed our dinners and late night coffees there. Would definitely recommend this place and will go there again without any hesitation! Go on, treat yourself…”
The Island Cafe is located on 36 Sawtooth Lane, Thesen Island, Knysna. For bookings, call 044 302 5746 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them online at www.turbinehotel.co.za/dining/island-cafe. Follow them on Facebook HERE or on Instagram HERE.