A Day in the Life
of a Cape Town Foodie
After an energising juice and briefing from Piers, we set off into the relentless rain
at 7.30 am, red brollies bobbing as we hopped over puddles towards breakfast on Bree Street. Keen to discover what makes Cape Town’s favourite foodie hub tick,
we were rewarded with simple yet flavoursome dishes – the first of many taste sensations we’d enjoy during our deliciously ‘foodie’ first day. Next up was a visit to our friends at Deluxe Coffeeworks, where we watched Guatemalan beans roast to perfection, before heading to the edgy neighbourhood of Harrington Street. Plenty
to learn here from these forward-thinking, creative entrepreneurs.
The heavens opened again as we arrived (somewhat drenched!) at sophisticated Labotessa on Church Square, where the warm flicker of scented Diptyque candles embraced us. Luxury here is indeed all about the experience… We were reluctant
to leave this passionate hotelier’s cocoon, a world away from the chaos outside,
but scored with a lucky break of sunshine on our way to Heritage Square where we were among the first guests to experience The Bailey and Hacienda – both having
only recently just opened. Of the six lunch experiences, Hacienda’s personalised guacamole dish, prepared tableside, was a firm favourite.
After lunch, we made our way back to Between Us to share what we’d seen, tasted and learnt from our dine-around lunch experience. Take-outs from the day?
Many, but three stand out above the rest...
With Deluxe as the official coffee partner for Villa Resorts, we headed off with ‘Coffee Captain’ Ismail Rasheed to find the beating heart of the brand. With New Zealander Judd Francis and his partner Carl Wessel at the helm, these guys are one of Cape Town’s best-loved success stories. Both have sure been places to keep their coffee devotees happy – if you listen to their travel tales, you’ll realise that only the very brave head to remote South American coffee plantations in search of the best beans. Tanzania is next, to keep up with demand from over 400 suppliers, including us!
Sheer grit and a passion for quality coffee got them places: Judd and Carl haven’t stopped since Carl emptied his bank account to buy a second-hand roaster, which they installed in his backyard!
Twins Jesse and Jamie Friedburg shared their story with us: humble beginnings, starting during the pandemic: ‘We have no formal training but followed our instinct. We chose the art we love to look at, food from cookbooks we love, and furniture we love to sit on. We even found a blacksmith to hand forge our elegant vases and scrambled egg pans (the curved sides stop their now-famous eggs from sticking). Sometimes we can’t believe it… The day our 60 chairs arrived, we realised we’d have to feed all these people!’ While we listened, a regular dropped by with her dog. ‘People say it feels like they’re eating at home – it’s our greatest compliment.’
There’s a real sense of community here. Simple foods, executed to perfection. Good wine list. Good coffee.
Branded ceramics. Individually wrapped baked snacks
to send us on our way. We loved the personal touch!
Labotessa Boutique Hotel
Johan du Plessis, who must surely be the most passionate
(and patient) hotelier in the city, shared his story: as a young Afrikaner, he grew up on a remote farm in South Africa but studied at a Swiss hotel school. His dream was always to open
a hotel, but after buying the historic building he waited seven long years before opening the doors to beautiful Labotessa.
He could have fitted 40 suites in the space but chose to create just seven luxury havens for discerning travellers. His mantra: ‘Luxury is quality. Luxury is space. Luxury is detail’.
Johan’s advice: ‘You always think you need to bend over backwards but this can confuse the guests. Less is more.
Luxury is not about money. Keep it simple. Connect.’
Labotessa is one of only of 12 hotels in the world to
Harrington Street Innovators
As with most cities, innovation takes place where rents are low and new ideas are flourishing… Our inner-city food tour took us in and around this budding hub of new and interesting concepts, proving that sometimes doing one thing well can be the key to longevity and success.
Bonjour Swan Cafe! We loved their quote of the day: ‘Believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable.’ We wish we could have
Take out: You can create a successful business out of one core product – crêpes done two ways, sweet and savoury.
Onto New York Bagels – a Cape Town institution. Vespa central at lunch hour, sometimes with dogs on board, this hole in the wall establishment serves up the best bagels in the city.
Fun fact: New York bagels were originally baked on a thick rope
for the dock workers, hence the hole in the middle (thank you, Georgina!)
Just across the road, Nude Foods has forged an impressive
plastic-free revolution here in the city, supporting local farmers and supplying quality health-conscious products to their loyal customer base. Sustainable ideas: Refill everything from washing up liquid to shampoo – you can even grind your own almond butter. It’s the new way of life here. Everything is so beautifully presented that there’s no need for fancy packaging.
At Seed and Circus – a sustainable café and deli, co-founder Karla Hart taught us all about striking the right balance while we sat together in the modest courtyard. Why it works? Explaining beliefs and translating those on to the menu inspires learning and loyalty. Even the meat eaters come back for Chef David Mac Donald’s Sticky Miso Balls and understand why there’s no beef, only wild venison. Engage loyal customers via social media. But most important of all? Don’t compromise on quality – source from
ethical, local suppliers wherever possible.
The Electric – a burned shell of a former electricity substation is
now a vibey, community-driven café, known for its freshly pressed juices and nut-milk smoothies. In true Cape Town spirit, dogs and bicycles are welcome! We loved: Their commitment towards a circular economy. Big on recycling, food pulp becomes compost
at the Streetscapes community garden, plus Service Dining Room
meal tokens (for bottle returns) support the homeless. The team here is quite literally keeping the East City, as it’s known, alive.
Charly’s Bakery – a Cape Town institution famous for its brightly coloured cupcakes, fun celebration cakes, and practically anything glittery or sweet!
Be bold, be brave, create
a new trend. Charly’s passed the cupcake test, although we suspect the VV chefs can do better!
Heritage Square Tasters
We visited no less than six different eateries in this historic square dating back to 1771. Saved from demolition in the 1970s, it’s transformed into one of the city’s most vibrant restaurant precincts with Yaki, La Cantina, Mazza and Hacienda clustered together in the original stone buildings, and The Bailey just opposite. Interestingly, aside from Clarke’s (a little way up the road, and famous for its loyal following), these two sparked the most discussion:
The Bailey – 3 concepts, 3 ways
The latest opening from acclaimed Irish Chef Liam Tomlin, spread out across three floors. On the ground floor, the French café (where we dined); upstairs, a classic French brasserie (opening that evening); and on the top floor, a wine and whiskey bar, with an impressive art collection to boot. We predict a busy summer season on the terrace, with its stellar views of Signal Hill and the Bo Kaap.
Best dish? Baby chicken with caramelised pumpkin sauce. Perfect depth of flavour and consistency.
This new buzzy hotspot opened just 10 days before we arrived and it delivered on so many levels… We loved its friendly cocktail bar vibe and ceramic ‘pebble’ water
cups by Vorster & Braye.
Best dish? As Piers said: ‘It’s the simple things like choreography and theatre’. The limey freshness of the authentic guacamole en molcajete, made table-side to
our preferred taste, had two surprise ingredients: Tajin powder and Adobo powder – an insider tip to take home with us! The melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu Denver came a close second, served with truffle and blackened onion pureé alongside the crispiest stuffed potato skin curls.
“It’s the simple things like choreography and theatre”
Honest Chocolate Café, a visit to Cape Town isn’t complete without popping into our most indulgent but ethical chocolate café. An artisanal bean-to-bar business that sources organic, fairtrade Tanzanian beans to keep their environmental footprint down. While some of us bought gifts, others headed for the courtyard out back. We followed the fragrant scent of Glühwein and discovered the secret Gin Bar in what was originally a church, with a Bubbly Bar
in the old mortuary.
Shaker BarSchool, from fresh pineapple and coconut alcohol-free Piña Coladas to instagrammable ‘lava-lamp’ mock-Mojito’s, we got the high-speed low-down from Gareth. Best advice: ‘Ice is the most important cocktail ingredient, but for your glassware, use
the freezer – not ice!’
Old Biscuit Mill, in trendy Woodstock was our destination for dinner, with both restaurants headed up by the inimitable duo: British Chef Luke Dale Roberts and his South African wife, Sandalene.
The Test Kitchen Fledgelings, an upliftment initiative for
fledgelings (‘little birds’), was started in the pandemic ‘with a fundamental philosophy of learning and teaching with passion and love’ – and it does just that. We were so touched by the story of our waitress, who was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored by some of the best in the business and is absolutely loving it. It was fully booked on a wintry Tuesday evening; a true testament to the Fledgelings’ success. We can’t wait to see what lies ahead for them!
The Pot Luck Club, has attracted visitors from around the world
since it opened, not only for the 360-degree views of Table Mountain, the harbour and the city but because the food is always delicious and faultless. Our epic Chef’s Menu was created especially for us – and the dishes just kept on coming! Despite Capetonians being quite a fickle bunch, The Pot Luck Club has carved itself out to be a Cape Town institution: it’s certainly done something right!
The finale? Piers took us to one of his favourite spots, just five minutes’ walk from the Belmond Mount Nelson. Known for its great music and even better drinks, Asoka is a great example of how we can elevate our late-night offering beyond typical