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

Dec 28, 2011

Rhodes Memorial Restaurant

What a location! Tucked up against the imposing Cecil John Rhodes memorial, the leafy restaurant offers a stunning view over stone pines marching down the hill, where you just might spot a grazing zebra or wildebees.
It was a public holiday when i visited with a group of friends, and the waitrons were running, but the weather was as mellow as we were, so we sat and chilled in dappled shade under the trees, browsing the menu for brunch options. On offer were a full English breakfast, Eggs Benedict, toasted sandwiches and one stoic health breakfast. Portions turned out to be generous but my sandwich was rather dry and disappointing - stodgy thick toast and processed meat passing for ham. However a serving of both salad and chips made up for it.

The coffee was good, and the friend who ordered cuppuccino gave it ten out of ten. The restaurant is open 7 days a week and next time I will also investigate the memorial itself before I sink into soporifia under the trees! It's definitely all about location location location and we lingered for a couple of hours, unwilling to break the spell of the relaxing ambience.

 I'd like to go back sometime out of season, when there are not so many screaming little darlings on the swings, and try their delectable home baked cakes and a latte or two.

Visit the website

Dec 21, 2011

Tibet Tea House, Simonstown

The Tibet Tea House and Sophea Gallery is a tranquil space in a large deep pink house just outside Simonstown. Entering the gate and walking along the pathway beneath fluttering prayer flags, I'm aware of myself exhaling, especially as I gaze at the magnificent Hottentot Holland mountains brooding somnolently far across the False Bay. The Sophea Gallery is a wonderland of gorgeous artefacts brought back from the foot-hills of the Himalaya: silver, turqouise and amber jewellery, silks, incense, icons and precious singing bowls.Gorgeous goodies challenge my virtous attempts at Buddhist ideals of non grasping and attachment.
Ah, but there's no harm in just looking. Pictures and tankas adorn the walls and I peep through a doorway into a tawny saffron walled sanctuary where regular meditations and sound journeys take place, and spot Bella, the resident Buddha look alike cat, snoozing on an oversized squishy white daybed. I find a table in the small tea house and peruse the menu of Tibetan offerings. You can choose from a selection of vegetarian dishes with authentic names or just settle for tea or coffee and one of the cakes on display. My alltime favourite is chai tea, served in a tea pot with tiny brown lacquer cups, accompanied by a crunchy kind of biscuit cum cake made of rice crispies and honey, that i can never get enough of, fingering every last crumb from the plate. 

The serene space has me sighing into the moment with an awareness of the simple lifting of the cup, the sipping of the tea, the tasting of something far away and mysterious. Monks chant softly from the cd player, voices at other tables are muted, and the interlude is a brief mental pause in the midst of another overthought day. On my way out I spin the prayer wheels as i walk down the steps, sending silent wishes on high that this tranquil feeling will last just a little while longer. Visit their website

Dec 19, 2011

The Gardener's Cottage, Newlands

What a wonderful alfresco dining experience this was. I'd never been to Gardener's, in the leafy suburb of Newlands, and had lunch with two dear friends on a steamy Sunday a week before Christmas.
We were shown to a table on flagstones under a magnificent old Camphor tree, with the sound of cicada's proof that Cape Town had decided at last that it was summer, after a period of very frustrating erratic weather which would not let us pack away our jerseys!  We were there for lunch, and coffee, for me, was unfortunately out, as I was fending off a lurking tummy bug. I had a delicious baked potato with spinach, feta and grilled veg, very yum, and the others had quiche and a chicken mayo sandwich. Presentation and flavour of all the dishes was great, the prices were par for the course, and the service friendly. 
After lunch we meandered through the garden nursery, a little green marvel with enthusiastically abundant blooms bursting out all over, crying take me, take me! If only I had a garden big enough, the car would have been overloaded.
We also browsed through the adjacent design and craft centre and were impressed, yet again, by the creative genius that runs rampant in this city. It was a just a pity that I didn't get a chance to try the cappuccino. I'll go back some day and also indulge in a slice of the decadent lemon meringue pie I had spotted in the restaurant display counter.

Dec 15, 2011

The Meeting Place, Simonstown

It's really a challenge to get to a cup of coffee in this venue!  As you enter the Meeting Place you are ambushed by a cornucopia of wondrous goodies which tug at your covet-button and purse strings. Oh, i wanted so much! Tables groan under a display of decor delights of all stripes and a veritable florist shop of artifical flowers that look more like the real thing than the real thing. Then the tables themselves are for sale, as are the chairs and cabinets and side tables and lamps. Sigh. It was hard to resist.
Being December, the place was also a-tinkle with festive goodies, and i fell hook, line and sinker for a particularly zany reindeer with twiggy ears, wearing a knitted aran jumper and socks. To die for, but considering i'm a bit of a gypsy, totally impractical and unpackable.

Eventually i dragged myself away from temptation and settled into the cosy corner of a long flowery sofa that hugs one wall in the restaurant section. Mellow latin music in the background, newspaper and glossy magazines to hand, i perused the small menu offering sandwiches, wraps and cakes, and ordered an Americano, which was just perfect. Jars and crisp cellophane packets of delectable delights, from brownies, shortbread, fudge and the like, to preserves, line the shelves around the service area, and it's dificult to leave without some small indulgence.
The Meeting Place is a pretty place, a feast for the eyes, an "artist's date" for creatives, a soul food spot. And i haven't even mentioned that you can also go upstairs and find another squishy sofa, or sit out on the verandah and gaze over the harbour at the mountains across the bay. Many gorgeous excuses for a coffee break and well worth a cruise along the coast to Simonstown.