How to spend a rainy Thursday afternoon in Cape Town

So it’s been raining the entire day and you were caught in a particularly strong downpour as you walked from the office to your car. Now you’re driving and all you want to be is home.

Don’t go there though. Rainy Thursday afternoons have much more potential.

Drive directly to the Book Lounge in Roeland Street. If it’s after 5pm then you don’t have to pay for parking anymore and, if you’re lucky, the casual car guards haven’t showed up yet. Now you can browse books to your heart’s delight, drink a warm cup of coffee or tea downstairs and settle in one of the deep chairs for a bit of a read. Alternatively, wrap up your day, make your to-do list for tomorrow or (and this usually happens to me) collect arms full of books, spread them out on the table below and take your proper time to decide what you want to buy. In other bookshops I tend to make much more rash decisions because there’s never space to sit.

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Now you can go and get some dinner. The Hope Street Market is literally just up the road, but you might want to drive there. It’s a particularly cosy spot, partly because of the warm food and live acoustic music, and partly because the hall is generally packed to the brim with people in scarfs, coats and hoods. The food is hearty, but also readily made. So no cooking, no dishes and no takeaways. Grab a glass of smooth red or a craft beer, try and find a seat (the most challenging part of the evening) and either  meet up with friends or make a run for it and eat your food at home. If you’re planning to sit though, the upstairs area is your best bet.

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Once home, there’s still an entire chunk of the evening left, but unlike the sluggish-series-and-microwave-meal-evening you would’ve had had you gone directly home, you now have proper food and proper books.

HQ – for the love of steak

Disclaimer: you don’t have to eat meat to indulge in the brilliance that is HQ. Keep reading, you’ll see.

There’s a lot of beauty found in simple things. I’m talking uncluttered, but masterful. Simple, yet brilliant. And that’s exactly what you’ll encounter when you spend an evening at HQ. Loosely based on a French dining concept, Headquarters specialises in one thing and one thing alone.

Steak.

Which means that they’re good at it. I would much rather eat at a place that knows a lot about one thing than a little about a lot of things. So here’s how it works:

First, you get a warm welcome at the door and you’re shown to the lounge and bar area where you can have a quick drink while you wait for you friends. It was a Monday night when we went and Mondays mean live music from a Bob Marley cover band. They were busy setting up, the fire was blazing and we were soon nice and toasty.

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Now you go to your table. These are stacked quite close together, but it’s not bothersome at all. In fact, it created quite a cosy, friendly feel.

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You look down at your menu.

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Yup, that’s it. There’s a separate drinks menu, but this is stamp is only thing resembles a food menu in here. Makes for much less clutter on the table.

Now you can spot the other tidbit of information on the table – two-for-one Mondays. Score.

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Next up, the drinks come and you’re asked only one food-related question: How would you like your steak? That gets written down on your table. Like this.

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Now there’s a bit of time to drink, chat and enjoy the music which is just loud enough so that you can groove along to the songs, but soft enough so that you don’t need to strain to chat to the other people. It’s all very well balanced.

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The food starts coming. First up is you starter. All of these are the same and they’re just perfect to get the taste buds ready.

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And now, for the main treat – a quality slice of steak, with butter and herb sauce and perfectly crispy French fries. These are what I would imagine gourmet McDonalds fries would taste like – extremely delicious. And the steak? Well, I’d say it’s close to perfection.

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Now vegetarians, don’t fret. Except if you can’t stand being surrounded by so much meat, you can enjoy a delicious mushroom substitute with the same fries and the same yummy sauce.

Just as you get about halfway with this impressive plate of food, the waiter comes by with a large dish and offers you more sauce and more fries. Yes! That just happened! So a good idea would be to get going on your fries before they come around so that there’s space on your plate for another proper helping.

Now you can order a spot of dessert if you feel that you can handle it. I couldn’t, but the creme brule on the table next door did look rather delicious.

And that’s it! Two hours later and my tummy couldn’t be happier.

HQ Cape Town

HQ

100 Shortmarket Street,
Heritage Square
021 424 6373
www.hqrestaurant.co.za
Facebook

Opening times:

Monday – Saturday
Kitchen serving 11h30 – 22h30
Bar open till late

Cafe Frank – not just a café

Café Frank has been around for a while, but it’s often overlooked as a coffee stop because of the ever so popular Jason’s just across the road. I only discovered it because the queue at The Hatch promised at least 10 minutes’ waiting time which I didn’t have that morning. So I went to Cafe Frank’s hatch, and subsequently to sit inside and eat. Now I’ll keep going back. There’s just so many things to try.

The inside is simple. There’s long, light-wood benches and tables and walls of shelves stocking yummy eats and drinks for a quick lunch. You order at the counter, paying, tipping and getting all of it done. Then you can sit back for a chat or a good read. I love the high stacks of Rolling StoneWired and Time Magazine just sitting there, waiting for you to stuff your brain with new information. If you can’t stand reading something that’s printed on paper, there’s always the free wifi to keep you occupied.

The food is wholesome and without fancy frills. Apart from the pastry-based breakfasts (everything is baked fresh and lined along the counter, tempting you to forget those healthy eating habits), there’s also the very delicious and colourful looking yoghurt, muesli and fruit to indulge in if you manage to stop yourself. Lunches are either decently filled ciabatta’s and sourdough sandwiches, plated chicken/salmon/quiche and salad, soup of the day or a wide variety of filling salads.

Going on a picnic? Stop here on the way and pick up a fresh, delicious picnic box.

Not keen to cook and less keen for takeaway? Pick up a take-home dinner on your way from work.

They really have all your meals covered, and deliciously so.

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Café Frank

160 Bree Street (corner of Bree and Bloem)
cafefrank.com
info@cafefrank.com 
021 423 0360

Opening times: 

Monday – Thursday 07:30 – 18:00
Friday 07:30 – 17:00
Saturday 08:00 – 14:00

Alba Lounge – cocktails with a view

For some reason, a prerequisite for drinking cocktails is a having a good view to admire. The two just go together so well. Take a sip, stare at the view, take a sip, stare at the view, repeat. And although it’s been around for a while, steadily supplying a range of classic and exotic cocktails, Alba Lounge really gets it right. There’s the extensive list of cocktails and shots, the ceiling-to-floor windows, the view over the harbour and the glittering V&A Waterfront, and the shoreline in the distance to stare at. Perfect recipe.

Alba Lounge is called a lounge for a reason. The seats are deep, the tables are low and the music is mellow. The decor is all about dark wood and a fireplace centerpiece and the waiters are smart. Something I really like is that the music’s volume goes up and down according to the mood. On a Saturday night it’s pumping and happy and in the middle of the week it’s subtle, allowing you talk to the people you’re with.

Alba is stylish, but they don’t force you to dress up. During the day (mostly in summer) the outside deck is a laid-back place on which to enjoy cold beers and chilled wines. They also have thin-based pizzas to munch on while dreaming about owning one of the impressive yachts parked below.

You’ll find Alba Lounge above The Hildebrand, at the Pierhead, sort of in line with Quay 4.

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alba loungeAlba Lounge

0214253385
bliss@albalounge.co.za
www.albalounge.co.za

Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 11:00 – late

Vovo Telo Waterfront – fresh goodness

If, like me, you are a sucker for anything freshly baked, then Vovo Telo will soon become your happy place. It’s hard to believe that it all started in Port Elizabeth, but lucky for the rest of us, this nifty little bakery-slash-eatery soon became a franchise spread out across the country. In Cape Town, you’ll find Vovo Telo in the V&A Waterfront, just across from Mitchell’s. The setting suits it perfectly, with tables and chairs scattered along the cobblestones, the wheel of excellence spinning around and around and the Waterfront’s resident marimba band jamming their best tunes.

Vovo Telo keeps things simple. Basically, they bake. At 04:00 in the morning, the day’s croissants, panini’s, brioche, baguettes and foccaccia’s are ready for the early morning pastry peckers and the lazy lunch hour lovers. So whether you pick out one of the sweet treats or the readymade sandwiches  lined up on the counter or whether you prefer sitting down and having your thin-crusted pizza, breakfast or thickly-stuffed sandwich, you’ll be impressed. All the stuffings, toppings and ingredients are locally sourced and only the highest quality products made the cut.

Those who notice the interior and design of a place will appreciate the playful character of Vovo Telo. Stylishly playful, that is. Have a look on their website and you’ll see what I mean. Even the takeaway packets have a sense of young freshness to it.

On the drinks side, you can choose your caffeine fix or settle for a fresh juice or Bos Ice Tea. Now go tuck in.

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Vovo Telo

Facebook Page
www.vovotelo.com
Waterfront opening times: Monday – Friday 07:30 – 21:00

 

Loading Bay Café – winter time comfort food

They don’t advertise comfort food for nothing. 

You’ll know exactly what I mean if you’ve had the privilege of tucking your teeth into a triple cheese toastie or a classic beef burger at Loading Bay Cafe. And now that the weather is getting colder and the clothes are more baggy, there’s no better time to treat yourself to some solid comfort food. 

We ordered burgers, but just because it seemed like the easiest decision. And don’t even think about ordering a salad with the burger. If you’re doing this, you have to do it properly and this burger is so amazing that it deserves to be accompanied with thin-and-crispy, herb-sprinkled fries. Something else that might tickle your fancy – and it definitely did mine – is the bucket of beer battered chicken and fries. It’s basically one serving of chips and a similar bucket filled with chunky chicken strips.

Perfect for those half-sunny wintery days – or any other day – Loading Bay Cafe will remind you how much joy good, proper food can bring.

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Loading Bay Cafe

30 Hudson Street
De Waterkant

www.loadingbay.co.za/cafe 
info@loadingbay.co.za

Monday – Friday 08:00 – 17:00 
Saturday 08:00 – 16:00

 

The Blend – food and coffee in the east city

In Cape Town, if you want to drink one of our local coffee brews, most of the time you have to go to that brew’s own shop to get it. Until now. The Blend, situated in Roeland Street, stocks a range of local coffees, like Tribe, Kupa and Deluxe. Either this lets you access your favourite brew more easily or you simply get the chance to try something new. Just ask Julie, the creator of The Blend, to give you a bit of advice.

They don’t just serve coffee though. Not in the least. You can come by for some great classic breakfast options. Most of these include coffee in the price, something which I really like. I also like the wide range of smaller breakfast options on the menu, like toast and jam, oats, all bran and muesli. So you don’t have to overindulge just because you’re eating breakfast out.

For lunch, there’s a whole range of great-looking gourmet sandwiches to choose from. The menu is divided by meat, making it easy for the vegetarians to find something nice.

The Blend has a warm look and feel. Although the shop is small on the inside, it’s comfortable and there seems to always be a table open somewhere in a corner. Odds and ends like Consol glass bottles, wooden boxes full of books and a window sill lined with little plants gives it character rather than over crowding the space.

An added bonus is that clients can make use of the unlimited free wifi.

So if you’re in the market for a new coffee joint, this might just well be it.

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The Blend

79 Roeland Street
071 927 3031

Monday – Friday 07:00 – 16:00
Saturdays 08:00 – 14:00

Twitter @the_BlendCPT
Facebook page
Julie@profiletwo.co.za

Gourmet boerie – SA’s first fancy boerewors roll

The Boerie  – a well known, much loved part of being a South African. Few meat eaters will deny the delight brought on by a grilled piece of boerewors (for the foreigners: it’s a spicy, flavoursome sausage best prepared on a barbecue or braai) slapped on a roll and smothered either in the classic Mrs Balls chutney or a good dash of All Gold tomato sauce. These are best served in-hand with a cold one in the other.

Now we’ve had boerewors roll stands at the side of the road (and outside late-night clubs) for ages, supplying cheap boeries like we know and love them. Gourmet Boerie just added the ‘gourmet’ to it and turned it into a hip and happy restaurant at the bottom (and busiest) end of Kloof Steet. This here is a classy boerie spot, complete with a variety of Craft Beers and cool people. What’s also great is that you don’t have to question the content of that sausage.

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The menu offers a myriad of topping options. For example: Gorgonzola sauce, poached pears and caramalised pecan nuts; tomato salsa, guacamole, jalapeno chilies and sour cream; goat’s cheese, roast cherry tomatoes, basil pesto and rocket. You get the idea. There are also the more traditional options, like the Chakalaka Boerie and a simple, ‘Old Skool’ Boerie. But don’t think that it’s as simple as choosing one. You also have to bear in mind which topping combination will go best with your choice of bread and ‘wors’. Yes, you have even more choice. There’s traditional, lamb, chicken, beef and ostrich sausage and then there’s white, wholewheat and rye rolls to choose from.

Seeing as this proved too big a challenge for me and my friends, we decided to order four and split them up so we can taste as much boerie as possible. And my favourite, by far, was The Hangover Boerie (bacon, caramalised pineapple, avocado and cheese sauce). I also really enjoyed the Chakalaka Boerie – and not just because it’s a fun word to type.

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Then we get to the fries. And all I have to say about them is that they are perfect. Fresh, thin, crispy and delicious. It’s worth just ordering a big bowl of fries (only R15) and munching on them if you’re not hungry enough for more.

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Gourmet Boerie has a great vibe, with lots of people just popping over for drinks and hanging out with friends on the street corner. The tables are long and wide, making big birthday bookings and socialising with your neighbours easy. Prices are great too. Between R40 and R55 for a boerie and a portion of chips. So it really is worth starting (or ending) your Friday night here. There’s also free wifi if you’re keen for a lunchtime boerie with your laptop.

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Gourmet Boerie

8 Kloof Street, Gardens. At this bottom end where Long and Kloof meet.
021-424-4208
Monday – Saturday 12:00 – 10:30
www.gourmetboerie.co.za

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Cool lunch spot: Bread Milk & Honey

Now this here coffee shop and lunch/breakfast spot, buried beneath the skyscrapers of Cape Town’s CBD, is quite a treat. Because this isn’t Kloof or Bree Street, there aren’t eateries and coffee shops on very single street corner. That’s why Bread Milk & Honey stands out. Apart from having what looks like very fresh and delicious sandwiches wrapped and ready for takeaway, they also have a sweet looking freshly baked goods section, the flavours of which I’m assuming change daily. Coffee comes compliments of Origin Coffee – always a good bet.

For lunch, they’ve got a seasonal buffet every day from which you can scoop up (on a plate or in a takeaway box) and weigh. Absolutely everything on that table looks wonderful, but if you’d like to know what you’re in for beforehand, you can check out their Twitter page (@breadmilkhoney) as they tweet everyday’s menu in the morning. Some previous lunch examples: spinach, feta & peppadew quiche, roasted butternut, onion and cream cheese quiche, baby marrow, olives, feta and sundried tomatoes quiche, Thai chicken curry with basmati rice, beef lasagne, chicken & sweet potato pie. The list goes on.

Not a bad idea to keep an eye on their Twitter feed as they advertise new muffin flavours and lunchtime muffin specials (R10 for a banana, choc chip and peanut butter one? Not bad).

Bread Milk & Honey is situated in an old building, the outside of which has been kept pretty much the same (from the looks of it) and the floor is now covered in homely, black and white checkered tiles. Wooden benches and simplistic furniture draws the eye to the art against the walls. For example, prints of how this section of Cape Town used to look in colonial times, with open plains, horse and carriages and classic trams. It’s worth coming for just these. You can sit either by the window and look out over Church Square or choose a spot further to the back. All in all a great place for any time of day and it seems that they open at 6:45 in the morning already. Now ain’t that convenient for an early morning breakfast?

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Bread Milk & Honey

10 Spin Street
Mon – Fri: 6:45 am – 4:00 pm
021 461 8425

Facebook Page

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New restaurant in Cape Town – Kloof Street House

Kloof Street recently became a restaurant richer. It’s called Kloof Street House and is situated where the old Opal Lounge used to be. This is a great place if you’re looking for some afternoon drinks or a nice dinner. The huge tables make it great for big groups of friends while the smaller ones beside the bay windows make it great for a date night. The decor makes it feel like you’re dining in a very rich person’s house, with some interesting portraits, chandeliers, lots of mismatched cushions and dark wood tables.

Made me wonder if it actually is a house of a former rich Cape Tonian from back in the day. The place is divided up into rooms, with a separate library area that has quite a bit of character and that’s perfect for red wine and conversation. My favourite part of the interior is the bar, with the old suitcases stacked beneath.

The food is great, a little expensive for a student dinner, but perfectly affordable for a nice night out. I really enjoyed the roast pumpkin and gorgonzola salad (R65), but the mint pees that accompany the beer battered fish (R85) also looked fantastic. Another recommended dish is the Blade of Beef served on top of parsley risotto (R125).

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Kloof Street House

30 Kloof Street
021 423 4413
info@kloofstreethouse.co.za
www.kloofstreethouse.co.za