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

Mar 28, 2012

River Cafe at Constantia Uitsig

"Sumptuous breakfasts", the website menu proclaims!  Perhaps my idea of sumptuous is different from theirs, as I have to admit to being a wee bit disappointed. If there's one thing that turns me off a place, it's a stingy portion! The plates is vast and white and my River Benedict cowers in the middle of it, far from the edge. However, I have to say that, apart from the limp streaky bacon, it was absolutely delicious and the coffee was great.  Others at my table ordered the scrambled egg with smoked salmon, and we were also taken aback at the size of that offering - a small mound of egg with the salmon stirred in. Friends at another table said they were delighted with their traditional breakfast, so maybe it was just the way our food was presented that made it look mean, although the prices are certainly not mean! Our table went through several baskets of toast - white, wholeweat and rye, as requested, because we had to admit that the eggs hadn't satisfied our appetites, and there were generous jars of marmalade, jam and real butter. The setting in the courtyard at this wine estate is pleasant enough but nothing out of the ordinary, so I'm not sure why it has such a grand reputation.

We lingered long over our breakfast and lazy conversation, then sauntered through to the wine tasting room and sampled some of the estate wines. Before sinking into complete sloth for the rest of the day we had a quick look at the vineyards surrounding the buildings. It was way too hot to walk in the sun, as planned earlier in the day, so we headed down the road for a stroll through what's left of the Tokai forest. A nice outing but nothing I would rave about.
Visit their website

Mar 9, 2012

On the terrace at Cellars Hohenort

Okay so it's not a coffee shop, but I have to squeeze this venue in, to share the pictures, as it is just such a gorgeous place. Take a look at those roses! Arty friends and I were there to view an exhibition of Ardmore ceramics and took the opportunity to stroll through the incredible gardens of this historic hotel set in the rolling green hills of Constantia.There's actually 9 acres of garden, sweeping and swirling around the buildings, beneath a canopy of majestic trees.

A little woodland dell here, a swathe of purple there,  terraces of white iceberg roses, a bed of luscious rhubarb, all add to the mix.  Prickly green chestnuts the size of golf balls scatter across the path, defying one to try and pick them up, but of course one of us did. Cross a rustic bridge over a lily pond and find a secret leafy nook tucked away in a corner, with a bench beckoning any blocked author to sit for a while with pen and paper, awaiting the muse's guaranteed visit. It's also a photographer's dream, a tree lover's paradise, and I had the feeling there were fairies peeping out at us from deep secret hiding places.

It was way too elegant an afternoon to drink coffee, so we slipped into the refined atmosphere of the venue and enjoyed tea and scones on the terrace, our eyes enjoying a green bath as we gazed at the gentle vista and made slow small talk. Even the birds were muted, perched somewhere out of sight. High Tea is apparently quite an event, with silver tiered cake servers offering a selection of decadently delectable sweet things.  Worth checking out for a special occasion.     Visit the website

Mar 3, 2012

Octopus' Garden, St. James

"I'd like to be, under the sea, in an Octopus' Garden with you" ... inspired by this old Beatles tune from way back when dinosaurs roamed, the restaurant is situated in an historic post office building next door to the St James railway station, where in winter you can watch whales cruising across False Bay. Well, I was there on probably the hottest day of a heatwave summer down south, there wasn't a breath of wind, and the only thing cruising was probably way down under the sea. About 15 of us were seated at a long table under umbrellas in the back courtyard, a bougainvillea draped fence separating us from trains sleepily trundling past on the track between us and the sea. To say it was unbearably hot is an understatement and the umbrellas were not really doing the job of blocking out the sun. The serving staff were unable to solve the problem for us, so in desperation someone in the group fetched a sheet he just happened to have in his car (!), and we managed to drape it between the umbrellas for a little more shade.

I'm not sure about this place. It's certainly picturesque inside, a crazy collection of knick knacks embellishing a brightly painted room with wooden floors and a piano in one corner. Apparently there is live music some nights of the week and the setting must be quite romantic under the magical little fairy lights. The menu declares that the fare is Mediterranean and there is an interesting selection of tapas, but we were there for brunch, at 10 am, and were a tad disappointed in the offerings. Definitely not your average bacon and egg breakfasts, the closest was savoury scramble on a croissant, which I had, and which was very yummy, but there was a dis-satisfied vegetarian among us, as well as someone who didn't do croissants and just wanted an egg on toast. The waitrons were unable to accommodate us, declaring that the owner "doesn't do bread".... hmm... I found that a little bit precious and wondered why in Cape Town, of all places, there wasn't a bit more of a relaxed attitude. Apart from that grumble everybody seemed to enjoy their munchies - which ranged from Thai fishcakes and stuffed peppers, through a smoked salmon croissant, to my St. James Surfer, and the service wasn't too bad, just lacking a few smiles (maybe a remnant of a late night?). It was too uncomfortably sticky to linger over the table, so as the party broke up, a few of us sauntered off along the boardwalk to Muizenberg, hoping for a cooling seabreeze, but not feeling it, and instead opting for a couple of beers before the hot traipse back. Most definitely a day to rather be under the sea....