While walking down one of Kloof Street’s side roads, on a grey Saturday morning, me and a friend literally stumbled upon Tamboers Winkel. We were on our way down to the corner shop, when we looked up and saw a large, old wooden door leading into a small little shop. At first we thought that it’s only a store, selling preserves and the like, but the one large table in the middle of the room and the friendly greeting from the owner quickly proved us wrong.
‘So two cappuccino’s?’
‘Well yes, why not?’
And we sat. And took a look around. The store is no bigger than my apartment, and the size suits in perfectly well, keeping it cosy while allowing for at least 15 people to sit comfortably, either around the large central table, the smaller one in the corner, or (one of my most-loved seats in any coffee shop) the high wooden counter at the floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks the street.
One entire wall is taken up by shelves, complete with the wooden, shiftable ladder attached to it. On this shelf is everything from free range eggs, marinated olives and Deluxe Coffee Company coffee. At the back is an old suitcase filled with freshly baked bread and beside it, a display of different salads and delicious-looking cured meats.
Even though it looks like a store from yesteryear, all the furniture is clearly new, giving it a fresh, crisp atmosphere combined with the comfort of chunky wooden shelves and seats. The lighting is one specific element worth getting into more though. Looking up, light bulbs hang with no shade, but encircled by a bronze-looking ring. Light fixtures on eye level are also just a solo light bulb, connected with a swirly red wire and mounted on a metal structure. See the photos – the explanation does it no justice.
The blackboard announces the menu and our friendly helper informs us that the chicken pie is just about to go in the oven and should be out and fresh in about 15mins. While sipping our coffees, more people wander in, some bringing their laptops to take advantage of the wonderful free wifi, others with a friend, catching up over lunch. All of us are essentially sharing one big table. As the woman across from us confesses that she just had the best sandwich of her life (she has about 30 years of sandwich experience behind her, I’d say) the announcement comes that the chicken pie just came out of the oven.
And it’s probably the best chicken pie I’ve ever had. Filled with lots of veggies and slightly falling apart out of freshness, the piece of pie is accompanied by a little salad of your choice, choosing from about two or three on display. Chickpeas, basil, mozzarella balls and tomato certainly went down well and a morning where we were expecting average tea, average cake in an average place, turned out to be unexpectedly brilliant.
Tamboers Winkel is just off Kloof Street, across from Jan van Riebeeck High, in De Lorentz Street and is open until 20:00 at night.