Vegetarian dining no longer means watered-down versions of animal-protein-based entrees and mains. Instead, in response to diners who are increasingly seeking meat-free eating options, whether for ethical, religious, environmental, health or other reasons, chefs are creating delectable menus with vegetables as the star ingredients.

Did you know?

Spanning 3.2 hectares, Babylonstoren’s gardens contain over 300 varieties of vegetables, herbs, edible plants and fruit trees.

Vegetarian fine dining is a growing trend as high-end restaurants cater to discerning diners looking for food with full-on flavour that’s lighter on their digestion and the planet.

As dietary choices become a driving force for change in the world, meat-free menus are on the rise. In South Africa, chefs are responding to these dining trends by creating dishes that are satisfying despite being animal-protein free; and by serving innovative vegetable-based dishes people can’t make for themselves at home.

Ciaran McCarthy at Karkloof Spa in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands was one of the first chefs in South Africa to elevate raw and vegan food to five-star dining standards. Though the raw-food menus at Karkloof are a way for clients to cleanse and lose weight, McCarthy’s flavour combinations and presentation ensure a sophisticated and refined vegan dining experience.

At Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Executive Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s four or six-course wine-paired vegan tasting menu transforms seasonal, organic ingredients into haute vegetarian cuisine.

The six-course wine-paired vegetarian fine-dining menu at Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace hotel in the Magaliesberg sees Chef Malika van Reenen tempt diners with sweet potato lasagne, lemon-scented quinoa pilau, and for dessert, a salted caramel tart with caramelised banana and pecan-nut brittle.

At Cape eatery La Mouette, the exquisite tasting menus prepared by chef Henry Vigar always provide amply for vegetarians.

The chefs at Babel restaurant at Babylonstoren boutique hotel, near Paarl, have arguably the Cape’s largest and loveliest outdoor larder to raid for their virtually vegetarian menus. Just-picked garden produce, served au naturel, forms the core of this colour-coded, anti-oxidant-packed, seasonal smorgasboard.

Chef Garth Almazan at Steenberg Hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, Catharina’s, in Cape Town, presents a meat-free, three-course vegetarian tasting menu paired with organic wines that dazzles diners.

Almazan introduced the ‘Meat Free Monday’ menu in as a practical way for Catharina’s to showcase exciting, fine-dining vegetarian options and drive awareness about global warming.

In Johannesburg, Cube Tasting Kitchen ensures that vegan diners enjoy the same gastronomic marathon as their meat-eating patrons. Chef Dario de Angeli’s 23-course menu tailored for vegetarian or vegan diners embraces vegetables.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Catharina’s
Steenberg Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)21 713 2222
Email: info@steenberghotel.com

Planet Restaurant
Mount Nelson Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)21 483 1948
Email: restaurantreservations@mountnelson.co.za

La Mouette Restaurant
Tel: +27 (0)21 433 0856
Email: reservations@lamouette.co.za

Babel restaurant
Babylonstoren boutique hotel
Tel: + 27 (0)21 863 3852
Email:enquiries@babylonstoren.com

Signal Restaurant
Cape Grace Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)21 410 7080
Email: signal@capegrace.com

Karkloof Spa
Tel: +27 (0)33 569 1321
Email: reservations@karkloofspa.com

Cube Tasting Kitchen
Tel: +27 (0)82 422 8158
Email: cubetastingkitchen@gmail.com

What will it cost

Enquire directly from the establishment as prices vary depending on what's on offer.