This gem of a cafe is a local favourite, and to me, that is always a very good start.
A neighbourly hub of eating, drinking, sharing, laughing…and baking, to mention but a few. Ile de Pain is cosy and fun, with a bustling energy and a natural approach to the decor and the food.
The lively inside spills outside with interesting mobiles making space for plants hanging from the rafters. Pretty pillows soften bench seating and sunny orange is complemented with wood and greenery. The space seems to be a perfect complement to the food and atmosphere.
Friendly local staff, together with the baking talents of Markus Farbinger and the cooking talents of Liezie Mulder, ensure an eating experience with universal appeal. As the bakery is one of the main delights, the freshly baked bread is showcased in quite a few of the dishes (the range of artisinal bread, baked daily, is also on sale if you can get there in time!). Liezie’s dishes are simple, wholesome, full of flavour and seriously droolworthy. Ingredients are locally sourced, of uncompromising quality and everything resonates with a unique but well thought through love of cooking. Classic toasted ham and cheese will spoil any future versions for life, while tarts, salads, burgers and soups offer a lovely variety for all tastes, appetites and dietary inclinations. The breakfasts are equally superior in quality and will leave you just as spoilt for choice, a (not so small) feat for a small (one page) but punchy menu.
I really should also mention the value, which is very good. Breakfasts range from R18 for freshly baked companio bread with farm butter and preserves to R58 for smoked salmon and scrambled egg croissants with capers and horseradish cream (simple but unique, I am sure I mentioned?). Lunch prices kick off with a local favourite of soup of the day with fresh bread for R25 and climbs to sirloin steak, caramelized onions and mustard butter on ciabatta with rocket and tomato at R92. The menu does change seasonally and according to availability. The wine list is small but well varied, with lots on offer per glass and artisinal beer also put in an appearance. Quite a selection of coffees, iced coffees and tea available as well.
– Top: Apple and almond cake. Bottom: Felchlin chocolate mousse
Take a trip to the island of bread and make sure you leave space for the dessert stand, a variety of blissful baked goods I am sure will have been tempting you from the moment you walked by the glass fronted display by the entrance.
Address: The Boatshed no.10, Thesen Island, Knysna
Breakfast: Sunday 9am – 1.30pm, Tuesday – Saturday, 8am – 11am
Lunch: Sunday 9am – 1.30pm, Tuesday – Saturday, 11.30am – 3pm
Eat out: In addition to well-loved standards like burgers and Max Deluxe (toasted ham and cheese with a poached egg, cherry tomatoes and mushroom sauce), daily fare now incorporates globally inspired street food served with Liezie Mulder’s own brand of South African flair Israeli falafel, Mexican tacos, Indian curry or perhaps open-faced Danish sandwiches. As always, ingredients are of the highest quality possible…read more
Trip advisor: This is a MUST on everyone’s list when visiting Knysa. Tucked away on Thesens island, this “Island of Bread” will serve up the most scrumptious unique dishes using seasonably frash ingrdients which will leave you coming back again and again to visit…read more reviews
Getaway blog: Not to visit ile de pain, on Thesen Island, whilst holidaying in Knysna would be like skipping the Eiffel Tower while touring France. It is not just a treat but also a heritage site in the making. In the words of Markus Farbinger, ile de pain’s artisan baker, ‘This is a living museum, a cultural place where we teach and educate’… and while we are at it, let’s eat!…read more
From JP Rossouw’s Journal: Knysna has twice been voted South Africa’s favourite holiday town. For me, the fact that one of the country’s finest bakery-cafés is located here adds fulsomely to its allure. This “island of bread”, located in the heart of Thesen Island, is an extraordinary experience, made even more so by the fact that it’s here – by which I mean in a seasonal seaside town – when it’s of a standard to be anywhere in the world. In point of fact, no city offering in South Africa can compare…read more
The Rossouw’s Restaurants guide review (3 stars – thats a top rating!): Cosy seats inside an artisinal working bakery or at colourful outside tables, the mood is relaxed while the food and breads are some of the finest in the country. Happy, loyal fans of Markus Farbinger’s wonderful breads, pastries and Liezie Mulder’s tasty bistro-style meals quickly pack the place out. Meals include confit duck and a signature burger, good salads and attention to local sources: free-range and farm produce used wherever possible, and all baking is done with farm butter. The authentic flavours speak of attention to real quality, and friendly and well-trained local staff manage to keep their wits even in season, when it can be bedlam-busy here…read more reader reviews here