Planet Restaurant’s out-of-this-world vegan menu

Posted on 7 March 2012

The Planet Restaurant at The Mount Nelson Hotel has a five course vegan tasting menu. This was one of the places that I was most looking forward to experiencing on our recent culinary journey of the Cape.

It is a beautiful hotel with an amazing reputation and I was surprised (in a good way) that the chef Rudi Leibenberg had decided to go with the very risky idea of offering a vegan tasting menu in such a traditional hotel.

Turns out it was one the best decisions he ever made. Apparently everyone is pleasantly surprised with the success of the menu. It seems that this forward thinking, open minded chef is leading the way. There is a definite change happening. Diners are moving towards a more health conscious, lighter way of eating.

On the night we were there, he had a ‘chef’s table’ of ten people all eating a specially designed vegan and raw tasting menu. And most of them were men!

Apparently the chef’s idea was to challenge his team, to stop them from getting complacent. I, for one, am so glad he did this. Each of the five courses can be accompanied by a wine pairing that is vegan too. Who knew that there was vegan wine? I certainly didn’t.

The fabulous sommelier and restaurant manager Carl, informed us that he had actually embarrassed himself by laughing when a group of vegans asked if the wines were vegan too. He thought they were joking. It turns out they weren’t laughing. Apparently animal derived products such as egg white; casein, a milk protein; gelatin, from animal bones and sinews; or isinglass, from the bladder of sturgeon fish, are sometimes added, during a ‘settling’ process, and then later removed.

The highlight of the meal, for me was the raw beetroot ravioli (above) stuffed with a cashew nut ‘cheese’ purée and served with a tomato consommé. However, all of it was gorgeous and all vegan. Thank you Rudi for being brave enough to go there. The rest are following, I can’t wait!


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