Cape Town's V&A Waterfront. Picture: Ruvan Boshoff
Cape Town's V&A Waterfront. Picture: Ruvan Boshoff

Pasta and boiled vegetables are disappearing from some menus as restaurants do their bit to save every drop of water in drought-ravaged Cape Town.

Residents and businesses are experimenting with various solutions to cut down their consumption of water as city authorities warn of a looming "day zero" crisis. Many of the city’s restaurants are saving water while still serving the best possible meals to their customers.

Staff at Pane E Vino Food and Wine Bar in Stellenbosch are encouraged to bring their own drinking water from home. "We re-use most of our water. The water we use to cook our spinach is re-used to wash our dishes‚ we use the water we wash our cutlery with for our garden‚" said head of the kitchen Akihirah Erasmus.

"We try to bring our own drinking water from home. We try our best to save water where we can. Pasta is really popular on our menu and it uses a lot of water to make it so we re-use that water for our dishes or the garden."

In Newlands‚ the Vineyard Hotel has discarded pasta from the menus at their restaurants and patrons can no longer order boiled vegetables. Executive chief Carl Van Rooyen said different cooking techniques have been implemented to save water.

"We don’t boil anymore, we steam. We have taken pasta off our dinner menu‚" he said. Water used to wash vegetables was transferred to 200-litre drums and stored for other uses. "No more boiling of anything‚ it is all steaming and frying; deep frying and shallow frying."

David Haupt‚ owner at A Tavola‚ an Italian restaurant in Claremont‚ said water from their ice buckets was re-used to mop the floors.

"We’re doing what we can. At the end of the day, we do what we do until we no longer can. The problem is not with us it is with the gross mismanagement of our water system. Until we learn to address that, it would be silly of us trying to save 10 litres here and 20 litres there," said Haupt. "All the water we use in terms of our ice buckets gets re-used, we use it to mop our floors. As I implement various things‚ my staff is also becoming more aware, but for the vast majority of people the message is not going through."

Restaurant Villa 47, in the city centre, has introduced water-saving devices on their taps. "We use 25-litre water containers to catch the overflow from the ice machines and the ice wells," said operations manager Peter Douglas. "We catch all the water from the ice machines and the aircons and we use that for washing floors. We don’t make use of table cloths and use paper napkins only."

Carne‚ an Italian restaurant‚ is using a variety of paper and cloth napkins to cut down on laundry. "The menu has nothing to do with water consumption. Carne means meat in Italian so we serve meat mainly. Our meat is grilled entirely," said partner Günter Boisits. "We changed how we look after water in our restaurant. We recycle with the ice bucket and water from washing vegetables."

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