Text Le Roux van Schalkwyk
Text Le Roux van Schalkwyk
Sitting outside her shop on a windy morning, owner Elzaan Nel explains how her business came to life. It all started when she saw a gap in the market for delivering gourmet sandwiches to offices. Called Bread and Butter, the business grew so quickly that she soon realised that she needed a commercial kitchen to keep up with demand. Running a commercial kitchen she might as well have a coffee shop in front, Nel figured. This idea also resulted in a shift away from gourmet sandwiches only to creating meals for health-conscious customers.
Bonsai has been embraced by everyone looking for healthy alternatives. An indication of the diverse clientele is the eclectic mix of clothing seen in the shop, ranging from suits to gym attire.
Nel’s passion for healthy food stems from her lactose intolerance. Being a sucker for desserts she was forced to look into dairy-free recipes. She quickly realised, too, how difficult it is to find food on the go that does not contain butter, cheese or other dairy products. This inspired her to make healthy food without compromising on taste or flavour.
Calling them guilt-free desserts, some of the treats you’ll find at Bonsai are gluten-free vegan cakes, raw tarts and health brownies that contain your daily almond intake. Treats so tasty that if you didn’t know they were healthy you wouldn’t be able to tell. Even the vegan ice cream and the vegan sugar-free ice cream is so delicious that it’s difficult to tell it apart from the normal variety you would buy at a store.
“There is a misperception among people about healthy foods. Eating healthy is not just eating any salad or a low-carb meal. The ingredients are important. Your body needs food that is rich in nutrients and, importantly, makes you feel good after eating it,” she explains.
It is critical to be well informed and that is why Nel does a lot of research to come up with delicious food that meets her client’s dietary requirements. Clients can order anything from gluten-free and vegan cakes, banting and keto cakes to sugar-free cakes. Just by looking at the reviews on TripAdvisor the popularity of these baked goods is clear to see.
Bonsai also offers a sitdown menu for breakfast and lunch, among others with Keto and Banting options. Everything Keto is among the best sellers. Bonsai’s menus are seasonal and always take the clients’ needs and preferences into consideration.
The premises in the Elysium Fields building off Berg Street is perfectly captured by its name, Bonsai Bistro. Although small, the atmosphere is always cosy and you can immediately tell that there is a lot more than meets the eye.
Pro-tip: The almond milk cappuccinos are life-changing.