Over the last few years, the Cape Town Vegan scene has exploded. It’s now easier than ever to find plant-based additions to menus almost everywhere, and entire restaurants have popped up all over the place which showcase the culinary marvels that can be created without the use of animal by-products. Jessy’s Waffles, situated in Gardens, Cape Town, is one of these gems.
Address: 58 Barnet street, Gardens
8001 Cape Town, Western Cape (until April 2020)
Trading hours: Mon: 9am-4pm, Tues & Wed: 9am-6pm, Thurs, Fri, Sat: 9am-9pm, Sun:10am-3pm. (Check their instagram for national holiday times)
Jessy’s is a self-titled “Plant Based and Gluten Free Dessert Cafe”, which not only satisfies the tastebuds and the conscience, but its offerings will have even frequent meat-eaters craving more. their menu includes a variety of savoury and sweet waffles and flapjacks, and if none of those tickle your fancy, you can make up your own tasty topping combination. It can be hard to choose between all the appealing options, so I forced some friends to come along with me so that we could try as much of the menu as possible.
We managed to work through three savoury waffles, (the frittafle, the pulled jackfruit, and the summer toasty), and one sweet one (lemon and poppyseed). Calorie count aside; no regrets. The frittafle is a winner, and straddles the boundary between being a guilty pleasure and a healthy treat. The summer toasty, while to some may be a little TOO salty (olives, sun-dried tomato and balsamic vinegar all add up to quite an intense flavour), had a delightful crunch to it, and came with so many rocket leaves you could justify having dessert after. The pulled jackfruit waffle, though fruit on a savoury meal may sound odd, took the cake. The flavour combinations were fantastic, decidedly more three-dimensional than the summer toasty, and it doubled as an educational experience (I would argue also a culinary and spiritual one), because before this visit I had no idea what the hell a jackfruit even was.
The sweet lemon poppyseed waffle that followed our adventure with the savoury options was pure magic. I’m not even a dessert person and I’m going to be dreaming about it for weeks. If Jessy’s didn’t openly advertise as being a vegan and gluten-free cafe, one would be hard-pressed to tell that this indulgent and creamy delight was made without all the animal gunk they would normally add to a waffle, and the gluten wasn’t even missed.
Their drinks, too, are a treat and then some. Jessy’s milkshakes are an experience all on their own, and the turmeric and ginger iced latte is, in my personal opinion, life-changing. So while vegan food is often seen as healthy, and as a result, unappetising, when you combine the phenomenal food and the fun beverages at Jessy’s, you leave feeling satisfied that you’ve really indulged, but also know that you need to fit in a few extra-long sessions at the gym.
While I was extremely happy with my meal, the service was somewhat less fantastic. My friends and I found ourselves waiting ages for something as simple as a glass of water. The space is also very small, and gets extremely cramped when the cafe is full (which is always because the food is extraordinary). There also seemed to be some issues with the door to the restaurant, which some proactive customers first tried to jam shut with a stool, and then tried to wedge open with the same stool. This created an interesting obstacle for anyone trying to enter or exit, and an amusing spectacle for all those waiting on the slow service.
Fortunately, and excitingly, Jessy’s is relocating to a new site in April 2020. For those who aren’t keen to wait so long, they also have a second location in Camp’s Bay. I’m looking forward to trying out both of these, but perhaps I’ll have to refrain from sampling the entire menu. This is the kind of treat that could definitely be habit-forming.
I’m definitely going back to Jessy’s. Not only because that pulled jackfruit waffle spoke to my soul and because there’s still a whole bunch of menu left to experience (and seasonal flavours too!) , but because it’s impossible not to love a place that serves “delicious cruelty free nostalgic treats that make you want to do a little dance while you eat”.
Essential Millennial Rating: 4 out of 5 avocados.