Uncle Shifty’s & Cafe Mozart: Madame Zingara in Church Street

Church Street is one of those very special streets in Cape Town’s CBD, it’s closed to traffic and full of antiques. It also has quite the variety of tiny shops and quirky restaurants. Yet, for some reason, I keep on neglecting this vibrant little street. When I finally went back, I found Cafe Mozart and Uncle Shifty’s, two more items on Madame Zingara’s menu. Yes, she owns these two as well.

Cafe Mozart fits the Madame’s protocol perfectly, with a lively environment and many interesting objects scattered all around. And it has seating for every mood (and weather circumstances). Outside the tables fill up most of the fairly narrow Church Street, making space for quite a lot of people to experience the street side cafe atmosphere tucked away under a row of trees and white umbrellas – cobblestones in tact. It’s a pleasant change being able to sit outside having lunch in the sun with no cars coming by and only pedestrians walking about with their shopping bags and cameras.

Inside Cafe Mozart is a completely different story. A set of rather steep wooden stairs take you up to lounge type area, with dark wooden tables and chairs and much less natural light. It almost feesl like you went to visit your French grandparents that you haven’t seen in years. Old paintings line the dark green wall and leather chairs accompany a large coffee table with a range of classic books and games. In the far, dark corner there’s an old typewriter tucked away under some fake flowers. The antique stores definitely came in handy when the guys were furnishing this part of the restaurant. This is a perfect place if you’re not too keen on the noisy street vibe. It’s intimate and has endless interesting things to explore and admire.

As you walk into the restaurant, the lunch buffet is the first thing you see. It’s R35 for a small plate and R45 for a large. These you then stack as high as you possibly can with the extensive spread of dishes on offer. Everything from grilled aubergine, tomato baked chicken, salads, breads, tzatziki and potato bake. And I’m pretty sure you’ll never get the same spread two days in a row. I definitely recommend the buffet, it’s cheap and you can have a look at your options before ordering. The rest of the menu does look very tantalising too though, with lovely salads, sandwiches and cakes. Let me just mention that the tea comes in a pot that is certainly an antique. It looks like a little fairy tale house. Literally. The most unique teapot I’ve ever seen.

Heading out of Cafe Mozart and turning right will lead you to Uncle Shifty’s. On the website, it seems that this is the emporium of a strange and adventurous uncle’s travels all around the world, a collection of all the things he brought back. It sure is an eccentric uncle though, especially considering the skeleton lazing around in the bay window.

Uncle Shifty’s is a lot like This Is Not A Post Office, the official Madame Zingara party shop, only the uncle’s collection is much smaller. Still you’ll find a range of interesting objects and trinkets and a fantastic range of hats and masks. I’m particularly fond of these animals hats. You get a panda, a penguin, a cow, a bunny and a few other furry friends. A definite festival accessory.

So now the Madame has four restaurants, two party shops and one launderette. This, of course, apart from the actual Theatre of Dreams and Nine Lives event organisation. She sure is going places and I’m curious to see what the next collectable will be. Check out the website.

Previous Madame Zingara blog posts:

Madama Zingara’s City Takeover: Now with a Party Shop

The Sidewalk Cafe: More from Madame Zingara


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