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Festivals always cost more money than you think they will, with fuel, accommodation, meals and ticket prices leaving quite a dent in your wallet. Here are a few budget spots to eat and drink at the 2016 Knysna Oyster Festival on a budget.
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Oysters and Tabasco

 

Budget places to eat and drink at the 2016 Knysna Oyster Festival

1. Great oyster deals

There’s no end of places to have oysters and the prices and styles vary from place to place. This year’s hotspots include 3 cocktail coastal oysters with a splash of Olmeca Extra Matured Tequila for R25 at Tapas & Oysters, 8 cocktail coastal oysters (au natural) for R34 at 34 South, 3 large cultivated oysters infused with passion fruit Skyy Vodka for R49 at Drydock, or experience on the Swartvlei Lake on a pontoon cruise with 6 large cultivated oysters and wine tasting for R250 per person, to name a few.

 

2. Local cuisine with the Knysna Green Chefs

If you fancy a home-cooked meal using local ingredients, look out for the Knysna Green Chefs where you’ll find a different menu from a different chef each day at very reasonable prices. Go early though as they sell out quick! You can also vote for your favourite meal (the contestants win cash prizes), as well as the chance to participate in chef and catering training.

 

3. South African favourites at Tapas & Oysters

As I was leaving for Knysna a friend suggested that I go to Tapas & Oysters on Thesen Island as they were impressed with the food, the price and the vibe. It was the first spot I went to on my arrival at the festival and I too was impressed. Not only with the food and prices, but at the amount of empty tequila bottles lining the one wall – apparently 3 month’s worth! Seemingly I am not the only one out there who likes tequila. In the name of tequila I tried their “chequila” oyster (voted the best oyster at the 2013 Knysna Oyster Festival) topped with onion and tequila reduction with jalapeño mayonnaise, cucumber and red caviar. That slipped down my throat very easily! This year they are offering 3 cocktail coastal oysters with a splash of Olmeca Extra Matured Tequila for R25.

They have a vast range of tapas to choose from including Spanish and Mediterranean, South African and Rest of the World. Under Spanish and Mediterranean you’ll find artichokes to dolmades, sardines to mussels and Jalapeño poppers to chorizo with caramelised onions. Their South African tapas includes samoosas, calamari rings, BBQ chicken wings, frikkadelletjies and “Phat” Koek. Rest of the World tapas has snails, nachos, peri-peri chicken livers, mini hamburgers, vegetable spring rolls and beef trinchado. Prices for tapas vary from R28 to R48. I can fully recommend the dolmades and the “Phat” Koek. Aside from tapas, they also have breakfast, salads, steak, egg & chips, sushi, desserts, sides and dips. And tequila.

Contact: Tel 0443827196, tapasknysna.co.za.

 

Tapas & Oysters

Tapas & Oysters.

 

5. Something for everyone at 34 South

To be frank the menu at 34 South is boggling. In fact it is not a menu, it is a book filled with an overwhelming amount of food choices. So set aside at least half an hour for deciding what to have. Breakfasts range from health to continental and traditional, with prices from R25 to R65. The 34 South Breakfast Special is a steal at R39 for 2 eggs, 2 rashers of bacon, a fried tomato with toast and homemade jam. I also liked the fact you can have steak, egg & chips for breakfast – my kind of people! They also do light meals including dishes from their deli served with freshly baked bread (gluten-free also available) and greens. I can recommend their creamy tomato soup (R49) which could be a meal on its own, served with heaps of bread and butter.

The sushi is good too and very reasonably priced, with platters starting at R80.. Then there are pizzas, steaks, chicken dishes, platters, pastas and curries, not to mention desserts and pastries. No matter what your budget or tastes, you will find something to eat here. There’s even a special menu for those who are gluten-intolerant and those following the Banting Diet.

The restaurant itself is a cheerful bustling spot with blue and white checked tablecloths and it’s right on the water’s edge at The Knysna Waterfront. They also have a bar with draught beers (including Mitchell’s), a sushi bar, a deli selling fresh produce, a bakery, a fish shop, clothing, souvenirs and a wine shop. You can eat, shop and fill up your pantry all in one place!

Contact: Tel 0443827331, email info@34south.biz, 34south.biz.

 

Sushi bar at 34 South

Sushi bar at 34 South.

 

6. Pensioner deals at Quay Four

With plenty of live music, Quay Four on Thesen Island is a popular place during the Knysna Oyster Festival. I was there on a chilly winter’s evening so didn’t get to enjoy the views, but I did enjoy mussel starter with garlic and white wine sauce served in a miniature potjie pot (R45) and the Beef & Reef Combo (sirloin steak with 3 prawns) for R145.

Prices here are not really budget, but there is a Pensioners Menu and there are some good deals on there. Fish and chips or calamari and chips for R45, beef lasagna with salad R49, chicken schnitzel with chips R49,  chicken and mushroom pasta for R42, and steak and chips for R59. I am definitely coming back here when I retire!

Contact: Tel 0443824204, email info@quay4knysna.co.za, quay4knysna.co.za.

 

7. Beer tasting at Mitchell’s Brewery

Craft beer may now be all the rage, but Lex Mitchell was a man with a craft beer vision when he started Mitchell’s Brewery in 1983, now the second biggest brewer in the country. Back then only Forester’s Lager and Bosuns Bitter was available in Knysna, but today their beers are available countrywide and there are five more beers (plus an apple cider) added to their offering.

You can take a tour of the brewery and enjoy a tasting all six of Mitchell’s beers afterwards. Each beer has a charming story behind the name, but my favorite was the 90 Shilling – slightly spicy with hints of cinnamon and modeled after a Scottish Yorkshire Ale.These tastings are not like wine tastings by the way. You get a fair amount of beer. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The tour costs R75 and the beer tasting R75.

This year Mitchell’s are hosting a Mitchell’s Music Marathon, the official After Party of the 2016 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival with live music, good food, and lots of fun! Doors open at 13:00 with live music starting at 17:00. There will be a small cover charge.

Contact: Tel 0443824685, email info@mitchellsbrewing.com, mitchellsbrewing.com.

 

Oysters at Mitchell's Brewery

Oysters at Mitchell’s Brewery.

 

8. Wine tasting at the Knysna Wine Festival

R130 gets you a tasting glass (which you can take home as memento) and as much wine (there’s over 200 to choose from), cheese and oysters (pay extra for those) as you can get through in just over three hours from almost 50 wine estates.

You’ll find wines from Benguela Cove to Black Oystercatcher, Blaauwklippen Vineyards, Bonnievale Wines, Graham Beck, Paarden Kloof, Peter Falke, Steenberg Vineyards, Vrede en Lust and Wolfkloof to name a few.

 

Oystercatcher wines at Knysna Wine Festival

Oystercatcher wines at Knysna Wine Festival.

 

9. Plenty of food choices for all budgets at the Night Market

When I visited a few years ago, The Night Market had plenty of food vendors to choose from, which was a good thing as cheese nibbling and water biscuits were not going to see me through the evening. I had sushi from the 34 South stand, but there were also soups, Bockwurst, pancakes, wraps, quiches, boerie rolls, burgers, schwarmas, boboetie and sweet treats. Everything was extremely reasonably priced and you are bound to find something to eat to suit both your appetite and budget. The Night Market is happening in conjunction with the Wine Festival this year, on the 4th and 5th July.

 

Night market at Festival Pavilion

Night market at Festival Pavilion.

10. Fish and chips Weskus-style at Freshline Fisheries

Enjoy a well-priced meal with your feet in the sand at the rustic restaurant section of this much-loved-by-locals spot. You choose your fish from the menu, have it braaied, grilled or fried and then served in an enamel plate on a picnic table. They have an extensive menu including snoek, mussels, crayfish, prawns, kingklip, trout, yellowtail and dorado, along with seafood pastas and salads, shellfish potjie, curries and and combos. There’s also home-baked mielie bread served with homemade jams and a selection of deserts including Weskus trifle and malva pudding. The portions are huge, so go hungry! It is an unlicensed venue, but you are welcome to take your own wine with no corkage fee. The restaurant is under a tent, but the fire pits are guaranteed to keep you warm even in the winter chill. Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11.30 to 20:00.

Contact: Tel 0443823131, www.freshlinefisheries.co.za.

Photo from Freshline Fisheries website

The rustic restaurant section at Freshline Fisheries.

 
Everyone’s budgets are different and it was impossible for me to experience all the budget options that Knysna and its surrounds have to offer in a few days. If you know of anything worth doing, a restaurant worth eating at, or a place to stay that won’t break the bank, please let us know in the comments section.