Willeen’s Restaurant—Local Cuisine at its Best
Arniston, South Africa
House C26, Kassiesbaai (Arniston)
Tel: +27 (0) 28 445 9995
Arniston does not have many dining options: the biggest and most obvious is the Arniston Hotel, which offers a wide menu, and where we did eat a few evenings. But another really interesting experience is to eat at Willeen’s, named after a local woman who set up a small restaurant in her cottage—a family-owned and run concern.
Ask any local how to get here: from the hotel and fishing slipway, walk along the dusty roads through the village of Kassiesbaai, the old fishing village with its fisherman’s cottages, to the north end facing the sandy bay, and Willeen’s is basically the last white-washed cottage. There’s a hand-painted sign and the small front yard is festooned with colorful old fishing-net balls and sometimes bright umbrellas.
Walk up the steps into the front room, which houses this simple eatery. It has only a few tables and is rather dark inside but that gives it an interesting atmosphere, as the ceiling is decorated with old fishing nets and fishing-net balls, and along one wall are shelves with local handicrafts, such as knitted items, for sale.
The menu isn’t large, the food is plain, but very good. Some of our party had a type of lamb chop, one had baked fish of the day, one had traditional babotie, and another their signature fish cakes (wonder what the ‘special’ ingredients are?), all served with sweet potatoes and the vegetable of the day. They offer beer and wine and many types of soft drinks.
A couple of young girls from the extended family are the servers, all very sweet and friendly. It’s important to make reservations beforehand as, although it seems an unassuming place, it’s become very popular. We got there early (with our reservation) as we had a 3-year-old in our party and didn’t want to be too late. While we ate, it filled up, and people with no reservations were waiting hopefully outside, in a strong wind that day, at the concrete picnic tables, still hoping to get in.
Pay with cash.
A truly unique place, a way to taste the local customs.