I’ve lived in Mossel Bay for going-on 31 years now. In that time, I’ve seen all kinds of places come and go: B&B’s, stationers, pharmacies, general cafés, clubs, movie houses and restaurants., particularly those of an upmarket caliber, but it appears that the tide may be turning.
As I withdraw from my memory bank, there is one posh place that has stood the test of time. A few years back, another chic, golf-inspired place opened its doors and it appears to be going strong.
More recently though, about two weeks ago, a friend and I visited the newest kid on the block: The Cork and Plunger. As the name suggests, it serves wine and coffee – a vast selection of both.
There is also a range of craft beers and gin on tap available. These drinks can be enjoyed in the comfort of the wine bar on the upper level. The way I would describe the décor upstairs is Gentleman’s Club. With its dark wood tables, comfortable booths, leather armchairs, it is a place to enjoy an aperitif or a post-dinner drink.
If you’re one for a more outdoorsy vibe, you can enjoy a cocktail on the balcony overlooking a portion of the harbour. I’m not a drinker but have sampled both a virgin mojito and strawberry daquiri so far.
If the balcony’s fully occupied, there is a vibey beer garden at the back of the building, with a pool table and a lighthouse-jungle gym for the kids to clamber around on, while you sip on a cold one.
The restaurant downstairs is combines comfortable furnishings with beautiful photographs of many stone buildings in Mossel Bay, lending to the atmosphere of homely comfort, while the white linen napkins, exquisite glassware, weighted cutlery and out-of-the-ordinary crockery remind you that you’re in a classy place.
Food wise there are various menus: Canapés (which I’ve yet to try), breakfast & lunch, and dinner. All the dishes cater to varied tastes, including vegan and gluten-free options. The dinner menu is limited to a few dishes in each category of starters, main courses and desserts. In the first two groups, chicken, meat and fish are catered for. In my opinion this ensures consistent quality of the food served.
To date, during my various visits, I’ve tried the Coq au Vin, which is served with Garlic Mash and Veggies, the Ribeye Steak (which I recommend eating rare to medium-rare at most), with the crispiest baby potatoes I’ve ever had, and Lloyd’s Pork Loin with Peppers & Butternut Risotto. Honestly, I’d love to see that Risotto as a dish on its own too, because it is delicious. Marc’s Lamb Shank appears to be a firm favourite – when I was dining last night, I saw various people enjoying it. Dessert wise, I’ve only had the chocolate mousse, which is a touch too bitter for my personal taste. I’ve had their strawberry cake, which is good, but I’d opt for something less sweet, and more decadent next time, like the Carrot-, or Black Forest ones.
Finally, any place can serve good food, but it’s the added personal attention the patrons receive from both the waitstaff and the management that puts the Cork & Plunger in a league of its own. I’m a firm believer that if a person wears a name badge, it’s an invitation to use their name. To date I’ve been served by Marc, Herschel and Bridget, and when I was there with friends last weekend, Keagan showed us around the beer garden. While referring to someone by name adds an informality to things, it allows for a relaxed experience, which is what I am looking for when I go out, whether alone, or with friends.
With every visit I’ve had to the restaurant, whether just for coffee or a meal, or as has become custom for me, to get some blogging done, both owners Marc and Taha have stopped by my table to say Welcome back or it’s good to see you again.
Nothing is too much trouble for the staff at the Cork and Plunger and that’s the recipe for long term success. Keep up the good work!
I’ve also published this content on Tripadvisor