Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy some gorgeous cafes and eating places I've discovered in and around Cape Town

Jan 28, 2013

Cafe d'Arts

Tucked away behind a nondescript entrance in a leafy little avenue (Hanover Road) off the main road through Diep River, I was introduced to the exceedingly charming Cafe d'Arts by my coffee cohort, Helen, during a tiresome and relentless bout of mid-summer flu. It was intended to be a cheerful intervention, but what can be worse than snuffling into wads of damp tissue and having to refuse all the dairy loaded cream delectations on offer, for fear of encouraging more nasal glue?! Oh woe!

Anyway, we settled into the squishy sofa and ordered coffee - the usual cup o' chino for Helen and an Americano for me, and a couple of scones, which came warm from the oven, beautifully presented with butter and jam on the side. Unfortunately we were both a little disappointed in the coffee itself, which is supposed to be the main event. But what a lovely little place this is, with steps leading up to a loft area, and an outdoor wooden terrace, with mountain views. The main part of the cafe is a tumble of tempting goodies to buy and the service was impeccable, friendly and respectful.  Sadly I was not in the mood to pay it the attention it deserves as I was really full of the flu, but I intend to return in the near future, try some creamy goodies, and report back. Open 8 to 4.

Dec 10, 2012

Fraiche Ayres, at Starcke Ayres Nursery

Pottering around in a flurry of indecison about what shade of petunia to select from the overwhelming rainbow on display, and being one who is easily flustered by too much choice, I made a different and far simpler decision. Coffee. It must have been something to do with the enticing whiff of a fresh brew wafting over the shrubbery from a restaurant in the middle of the nursery. A place with a bit of a mouthful of a name,  Fraiche Ayres (!),  I had no resistance and followed my nose.

A vicious south-easter was launching a savage onslaught on tender seedlings and whipping the trees into a fury and it was a pleasure to find an outdoor table sheltered by drapes of weeping willow, and browse the menu. Some interesting and delicious sounding lunches on offer, and they also do breakfast and the usual tempting sweet treats. They had my favourite lemon meringue tart but at R30 a pop I wasn't inclined to indulge and settled for just an Americano. It was the real deal,  put a spring in my step and gave me the necessary shot of caffeine to resume my exhausting petunia mission.

Lister's Tea Room, Tokai Forest

Just take a look at these beauties - how could I resist?   Baked that morning, it had to be the Cranberry with white chocolate topping, melting in the mouth and made with real butter... yum double yum. Too hot for coffee, I washed it down with a Coke, an urge I succumb to once or twice a year on the very hottest day.

A friend and I had a lazy morning meander through the Tokai forest, the path eventually coming out onto a dirt road where we had to give way to a passing horse and rider.  I looked up at the imposing Elephant's Eye cave on the side of the Constantiaberg and thought hmm, not today, it's too hot (any excuse) and elected to rather take a photo.

The forest was an experiment started by one Joseph Lister in 1886, with the aim of researching the economic viability of trees planted in this area. Can you believe that he sourced these trees from around the world, well over 100 years ago and then planted them here? It's interesting to walk through these international giants and be able to identify them, but apart from that not too onerous mission, just being in their presence and surrounded by the green smell that I love so much, with the odd twitter and the occasional call of a black shouldered kite or bark of a baboon, or if you're lucky, the cry of a fish eagle, is extreme soul food.

Of course Lister's Tea Room was named after the man and that's the next pleasure, after your hike - to sprawl at a table under the trees and, having fed your soul, feed your tum!

It's quite a popular venue for kids' parties - a stray pink balloon high in one of the trees bearing testament to this. The usual snacky offerings and temptingly decadent cakes and tarts all priced around R25. The muffins are R20 and just one of these beauties easily satisfed two of us.  Open normal hours Tuesdays to Sundays.

Sep 26, 2012

West Coast Farm Stall, near Yzerfontein

Yes indeed, that does look like a different kind of coffee shop! This has to be one of the zaniest, most surreal places I have visited on my quest for that ten out of ten cup of Americano! And to think we almost didn't visit it! My friend Viv and I were on a short trip to view the spring wild-flower extravaganza in the area and needed a caffeine shot.

Check out the sign at the entrance to the farmstall - Visit our lions! And there's a similar sign introducing a tiger or two. We couldn't believe our eyes and decided we really needed some coffee to clear our heads. Just take a look at the froth on that cappuccino! Impressive, hey. 

But before we got to the coffee, we made even more discoveries. Walking through this seriously quirky place, past all the preserves and crafts (now minus one lime green bag that one of us could not resist...) and out through the back door, we were hit with a kaleidoscope of vivid and noisy parrots of every description, all looking very chirpy and full of the joys of spring in their spacious cages.

 I'm vehemently anti birds, or for that matter anything, in cages, but this place is different, somehow, created and fitted with care for the birds' welfare. Trying to take photos of the birds and fight off some cheeky attempts to pinch the strap on my camera, and avoiding some vicious looking talons and beaks, I heard the muted roar of a lion. Ha, I said to Viv, that's a sound track, can't be the real thing. But it was, as I found out later.

The owner, something of an eco warrior, runs a game farm in the area and breeds white lions, one or two of which can be viewed in the enclosure behind the parrots, every hour on the hour. But, pressed for time, we drank our coffee, bought some home-made biscuits and hit the high road to the nature reserve, where we saw plenty of game, albeit not lions, running wild and free.

If you happen to be cruising along the west coast, make a point of dropping in here to see a coffee shop with a difference.

Sep 18, 2012

The Marmalade Cat in Darling

The day I visited this Darling coffee shop the proprietor was caught napping! Sleeping on the job and leaving the staff to attend to the customers, we were shocked at first, but when this gorgeous creature lifted her head and turned her lazy eyes on us, all was forgiven and we were well looked after by the waitron!

A friend and I were passing through the unremarkable dorp of Darling on our return from a sensory overloaded trip to view the spring flowers in the area. We needed breakfast and The Marmalade Cat looked charming from the outside and indeed was all we hoped for indoors. A cosy space with floor to ceiling shelves piled with cat themed arts and crafts and goodies to buy.

Viv had a huge hunger pang and ordered the full breakfast - bacon, egg, mushrooms and oven baked potato wedges, as well as toast. Not really in a bacon mood I ordered scrambled egg on toasted ciabatta and I honestly can't remember when last I enjoyed such uber creamy scramblies. To die for! I had the obligatory Americano and Viv a Cappuccino.  The menu has a selection of the usual suspect munchies from sandwiches through salads to very delectable cakes and tarts.
Open 7 days a week, evidently they are also open for supper at the weekend and Friday night is pizza night.

After breakfast we discovered a barn behind the restaurant operating as a viewing gallery for beautiful paintings and pottery and more crafty things like handbags. We browsed the tempting goodies then sauntered through the Cat Walk next door, a boutique style store with some tempting clothing on sale. The heavens opened just as we left and we had to run for the car and a slow and cautious drive back to Cape Town in the wet.

Sep 10, 2012

Kalk Bay Expresso

Kalk Bay Expresso is a quirky cafe in a derailed old blue train carriage located right alongside the Kalk Bay station. The decor and fittings are authentic old school train stuff and when the real deal train rumbles into the station you get the feeling that you are also on the tracks. This is a favourite of mine when I'm with somebody I want to have a proper conversation with and not have to shout above the usual coffee shop din, because the table setting is intimate and eye contact is unavoidable. I generally go for their pancakes, which are delicious, and this time it was spinach and mushroom, accompanied by a nice little green salad and very more-ish salad dressing in an elegant decanter, with which I almost drowned my salad, it was that delish. They also offer breakfasts and the usual sandwiches, and I can personally attest to the divine decadence of my personal favourite, the lemon meringue pie. Yum. Coffee is good, served in decent sized cups, and a nice touch is the fact that my friend, who takes hers black, was not short changed and had a cup that was filled right to the top. Friendly service and reasonable prices, it's open for breakfast, lunch and tea.

Aug 20, 2012

Cafe Roux, Noordhoek Farm Village

Attended a 60th birthday brunch celebration here on a chilly winter morning. All bundled up, what was I thinking, as I had to peel off layers in the stuffy over-heated room. Cafe Roux caters for families, with a designated play-room for the little ones, and just our luck our long table had to be situated right next to this area, didn't it! As one or two of us were feeling wan and nursing fragile heads for various reasons, the decibel level of screeching was a challenge, to say the least, but we soldiered bravely on, fortifying ourselves with extreme doses of caffeine.

I was pleasantly surprised by the food, having heard rumours of stingy portions. My French Toast was simply delicious - 3 slices of French bread, each topped with a perfectly grilled slice of banana and drizzled with tangy berry coulis. I ordered a portion of crispy bacon to complement it and was more than satisfied with my filling meal. No complaints about my multiple cups of Americano coffee, accompanied by a decent sized jug of foamy milk.  Friends around me were tucking into full English breakfasts and omelettes and I was amazed that they could clean their plates. The omelettes in particular looked very abundant, their bellies puffed up with more than enough mushroom and bacon filling - the omelettes, not my friends! 
It would be pleasant to sit at one of the outdoor tables under the trees on a warm sunny day and enjoy the rural farm village atmosphere.  Just remember that it can be quite rowdy at the weekend, so possibly not your ideal romantic venue. Cafe Roux specialises in breakfasts and lunches, with occasional live music entertainment. Check the website for more details