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

Apr 28, 2012

Arnolds, Kloof Street, Cape Town

Away from the comfort zone of my usual local stomping ground, I found myself in Kloof Street this week, having undertaken what we jokingly refer to in this part of the world as the"great trek" over the mountain to the city. I was off to see a midday movie at the one-of-a-kind Labia Theatre in Orange Street, and afterwards my friend and I walked a couple of blocks looking for a cafe to grab coffee and a sandwich. Arnolds looked like a cheerful and casual refuge from the grey winter clouds pushing down on us, and the bright orange walls, happy music and ridiculously chirpy waitrons gave us a warm welcome. The place has been there for ages and has quite a history and reputation, which you can read about in detail on their website and also check out the menu with some unusual suspects like warthog and crocodile ribs! But we weren't walking on the wild side and settled for one all-day-breakfast special at R26 and one toasted cheese and tomato with pesto on ciabatta, at R35.  Ya, boring I know, but my sandwich was tasty and generous and I couldn't finish it. My friend ordered tea and was delighted to get a whole pot of it, and I had a so so filter coffee. Really letting the side down here, in the quest for the best americano, maybe it was the weather or the movie playing in our heads. There's an extensive menu which really caters for every taste and pocket, starting at a free-range lite breakfast at only R15, believe it or not, and ending at gemsbok steak for about R150. Inbetween are all the usual sandwiches, salads, pastas and sweet treats. Fully licensed with some interesting cocktails, there was a lot of champagne cork popping while we were there. It's busy and buzzy, has the biggest pepper grinder in town, and Chris ("Shoes"), our waiter, was on top form, having mastered to perfection the art of attentive and discreet service spiked with a dash of friendly flirtation with ladies of a certain age.  Great 3 spoon service!  Vist the website

Apr 24, 2012

Cherry On Top, Bergvliet

Discovered this unpretentious little place tucked down Hawthorn Road in Bergvliet, next to the line of shops where Woollies is. What a find! If you're needing some impressive sweet nothings for your next girlie tea, this is the place. Just look at these tiny fruit tarts, the detail that went into them, and they cost only - wait for it - R5,50 each! Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it.  Then there are the little cheesecakes, the tiramisu, the chocolate brownies, the lemon tarts...

This was one of those impulsive coffee outings as I was in need of some sweet TLC. My friend had O.D'd on chocolate earlier in the day, so was all sugared out and settled for coffee, which came with two of the teeniest crunchies ever. I had my usual Americano, which was just ok, and a darling little tiramisu. Oh me oh my, what a delicious treat. In the interests of you, dear blog reader, I decided I should try something else as well, so had the lemon meringue. The choice of delectables in the display case is a bit overwhelming at first and one would probably have to visit several times in order to work through everything on offer. A regular size tart or cake costs R12,50, a crazy price for something you would pay double for at most restaurants. Baked cheesecake looks like the real deal, and next time I'm in the area...

The setting isn't the most glamorous. It's a working bakery after all, and there are pies, quiches, bread and rolls for sale, plus they also create cakes for special occasions.. We sat at one of several tables on the stoep.  I'm not too keen on the functional plastic tablecloths and would prefer something more attractive, but if it's absolute value for money you're after, this is a good option. The place has only been open for a few months and it's definitely worth checking out if you have a sweet tooth.

Apr 17, 2012

TriBeCa - Kalk Bay and Tokai

I've been a fan of Tribeca coffee for quite a while, often picking up a cup-to-go from the Kalk Bay cafe, always hot and strong, just as I like it. Lately it hasn't been much fun in KBay due to the ongoing roadworks and mammoth earthmovers churning up the road just outside. It makes gentle communion with a cup of coffee well nigh impossible, and anyway I've never been into venues where conversation becomes strident to compete with churning espresso machines and clattering crockery (why DO they have to crash cups onto saucers and cutlery into drawers anyway?). I'm quite allergic to places where voices bounce against high celings and there's a general atmosphere of clamour, and the clang of metal chairs on tiled floors. Not that i'm picking on Tribeca, it's just a personal irritation and at the KBay outlet seems magnified by the roadworks. I'll go back when things are back to normal in the village!

When I received an invite to meet a friend at the new Tokai outlet I was keen to revisit. I'd been there once before and shared a wonderful sandwich overloaded with filling and way too much for just one person, plus an Americano, always reliable. Situated off a parking lot in a small centre, it's not the most leafy setting setting, but convenient for a quick catch up. We had picked one of those heat wave days we've been experiencing late this summer, and it was way too hot for an Americano, so I ordered an iced coffee. Oh me oh my, what a surprise! So used to generally getting a sweet coffee milkshake masquerading as iced coffee, I was offered a choice : either chilled coffee with an icecream topping, or coffee poured over chipped ice. I chose the latter and was delighted to find it even came unsweetened (I don't do sugar) and just the perfect icy treat for a sweltering day. This plus the attention to service by the waitron, and food presentation, definitely scored a 5 spoon reward.

By the way if you're wondering about the name TriBeCa - it comes from an area in Manhattan .. the Triangle Below Canal street!

Apr 10, 2012

Starlings, Rondebosch

Look at the loo! It's not every blog post that has a picture of a loo to kick things off, but a friend and I have this secret belief that you can tell a lot about an eating place from its bathroom! This room is as delightful as the cafe itself, with a bath full of plants and knick knacks, fragrant things and candles, mirrors and pictures on the wall.

I'd been promised I would love Starlings and it sure lived up to my expectations. What a divine space, the charming and quirky decor offers way too much for an artist's eye to admire over a single cup of coffee, and then there are all the eat-me delectables on show, cheesecakes and little chocolate deaths and tarts tempting our tastebuds. 

But it was a gorgeous day and the three of us headed outdoors to the garden to soak up some late summer sun. There are fairies in this garden! Among the flower pots and creepers, a rusty old bicycle frame, mirrors and a filigree gate, doo dads hanging from trees, and tables tucked into leafy corners inviting  intimate confidences, the fairies are hanging out just waiting for some interesting company, and it seemed they wanted to join us. We found a cosy nook between two leopard trees and soon Chris, our friendly waitron, brought an umbrella to shade us from the fierce Saturday morning sun.

We ordered coffee - Origins and faultless -  and were uncharacteristically boring in our choice of munchies, electing for toast and croissants, served with little dishes of butter and honey, rather than the delectable rich cakes on offer, which i'll certainly go back for, some time in the near future! Apparently the home made bread was delicious and as I grappled with a disintegrating croissant I browsed the menu to see some interesting breakfast options and had to smile  at their recommendation...."our eggs are from a family farm where the hens scoffle around as nature intended". 

There was definitely something in the air that day and being three creative people we were bouncing ideas around the table with hardly a pause to sip our coffee. We imagined, we designed, we planned, we dreamed, we sparked one another with inspiration and by the time we parted, after more coffee of course, we each felt wired and ready to hit our drawingboards with excited anticipation of what we could create. Was it the coffee, the ambience in the magic garden, or ...  maybe ...  the fairies?

Apr 6, 2012

Casa Labia, Muizenberg

When you walk through the ornate front doors of this special casa, you leave the 21st Century behind. Built in 1929 in the style of an 18th century Venetian mansion, and owned by a count, this national monument recently had an extensive makeover. Overlooking the windswept False Bay, the interior is exquisite and houses an art gallery, boutique and gorgeous Italian cafe.  Not really a place to just pop in for a cappuccino, the setting begs a lingering lunch or lazy afternoon tea.  On a previous occasion a friend and I wanted to view a specific art exhibition and then enjoyed tea and scones on this verandah, but last week I was treated to a special treat, a birthday lunch in the cafe. 

As the cafe itself was full, we were seated in the ballroom, flocked wallpaper, sparkling chandeliers, marble fireplace and priceless oil paintings providing the background.  A stiff white linen cloth draped a table set with heavy silver cutlery, dainty crystal cruet set and starched napkins and then a waiter offered us bread from an enormous basket tucked under his arm. All home baked, everything from rye to wholegrain, my slice of olive bread was perfection, and portions of butter were wrapped up like toffees. I ordered the Casa Laba Club Sandwich and could hardly finish it. Unusual toasted sweet potato bread was piled high with slivers of smoked chicken, avo, salami and cheese, and my favourite, caramelised onions - yum, with a generous rocket salad. My friend had a starter - slices of Bresaolo (beef) with fresh marinated mushrooms. After all that we could do no more justice to the decadent dessert menu than drool over it, so opted for tall creamy lattes. A gentle refined interlude in an exquisite setting.   

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