Being vegan in a small city is not always easy. I’m not sure if restaurants don’t realise that there is a growing vegan community here, or if they just don’t know how to feed us. Either way, I get blank stares whenever I ask for pizza without cheese. So the one thing that was absolutely non-optional on my list of things to do in Joburg was eat at a vegan restaurant. The South African Vegans group on Facebook gave me some suggestions, and after looking at the menus, my friend Giulia and I (check out her youtube channel!) set our hearts on Conscious108. Over the past two years, I’ve become really good friends with Giulia through the SA YouTube community, so it was so great to finally meet her!
Being used to having only a couple of vegetarian options at any given time – and still having to veganise them, at that – having an entire menu to choose from was quite the novelty. One that I couldn’t quite deal with. What to do? Eat. all. the. food.
Naturally, when I saw un-milkshakes on the menu – and Oreo ones at that! – I had to try them. I was very impressed with the few sips of milkshake I had, before I swapped it with Alan and took his green juice off his hands. He had tried valiantly. While I was squealing over the fact that Conscious108 use metal straws instead of plastic, Alan and Giulia weren’t huge fans of the metallic taste it added to their drinks, so be aware of that.
I started with the rainbow roll. It’s a rice paper wrap stuffed with a bright array of veggies and delicious peanut ginger sauce. Also, cover anything in sesame seeds and soy sauce, and I’m there for that.
Conscious108 has some incredible sounding burgers made from whole ingredients. Though I really wanted to try those, the appeal of vegan cheese sauce on the Cheezy BBQ Burger stole my heart. Admittedly, the sauce didn’t taste that much like cheese. It was super yummy though and completely hit the spot for my vegan junk food cravings. Giulia’s Hawaiian Crumbed Burger looked amazing. And Alan had Frenchish Toast, which I was really bleak I didn’t steal any of. I need to try to replicate it!
As for the big finish, their vegan peanut butter chocolate cake is every bit as heavenly as it looks. Even more than being able to eat all the food on the menu, I died at having a huge array of dessert options. I wasn’t limited to praying they stocked sorbet! I could have cake or milk tart or cookies. Amazing. My cake was so moist (that word is ew but it’s good for describing cakes okay) and incredibly rich. A normal person could probably share it. Luckily not me. By the end of the meal, I felt adequately stuffed and in that kind of hazy bliss that only comes from eating way too much good food.
At this point, it’s probably a good time to air some grievances. While I LOVED my food, I wasn’t wowed by the service. When we arrived at the restaurant at around 11:30 (they opened at 11), they were still moving tables outside and washing windows, which gives off a feeling of unpreparedness, and does make you feel slightly unwelcome, as if they aren’t ready for you.
The staff also aren’t particularly attentive. Giulia joined us a little after 12, and no one came to take our order until just before 12:30. At that point they were iffy about us ordering off the breakfast menu. Our food didn’t take too long to arrive, but once it did arrive it became almost impossible to attract our waiter’s attention again. If they’d been run off their feet, I would have understood, but at any given time there weren’t more than three tables in the restaurant.
The Verdict on Conscious108?
I always find starters and drinks quite pricey, and here was no exception. But I thought their mains and desserts were quite reasonably priced. It breaks my heart to give a vegan restaurant a less than stellar review, but here it is. Overall, I’d give Conscious108 a 5/5 for their food, but only 3/5 for service. If they just improved their service a bit, they’d be a seriously wonderful restaurant. I’d recommend taking advantage of their takeaway service, so you can get the great food, without the wait.