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Review: Bree Street’s new healthy spot Wholesome lives up to its name

The night-time pizza joint inside Clarke’s doubles as a spot for tartines and salads come the daylight hours. Eat Out critic Linda Scarborough reviews Wholesome.

Fast facts

Serves: Open sandwiches, healthy salads and fresh juices
Cost: R55 to R75 for lunch
Best for: Quick, fuss-free bites during the day and good drinks
Parking: Bree Street is pretty tightly packed, so find a spot in a side street and walk
Star rating: Food 4, service 5, ambience 3

Tartine topped with smoked salmon trout and cream cheese

Tartine topped with smoked salmon trout and cream cheese. Photo supplied.

Food

The food menu is a one-pager, offering three breakfasts, croissants with fillings, and a handful of salads and tartine (open sandwich) options for lunch. All are served from 8am to 4pm.

If you’re here early the bruléed grapefruit with ginger sugar is recommended (genius); otherwise try the house-made granola with yoghurt or the equally wholesome-sounding strawberries with yoghurt and candied sunflower seeds. If a croissant grabs your attention, have it plain or add jam, Nutella, emmenthal cheese, bacon or a poached egg.

Labneh with radish tartine_Wholesome

The tartine topped with house-made labneh, radish, spring onion and black pepper. Photo by Linda Scarborough.

The tartine options, on reliably fantastic Woodstock Bakery sourdough, are pretty simple and easy to like. If you don’t go for straightforward seasonal avo or buttermilk ricotta (made on site) with jam, you can get something a little more special, like goat’s cheese with fresh tomato and basil, or cream cheese with smoked trout and pea shoots.

The option of labneh (yes, also made here) with radish sounds basic, yet is anything but. Petals of peppery radish radiate outwards on a generous bed of creamy labneh, with green slivers of spring onion offering a pleasingly sharp and crunchy counterpoint. Lashings of olive oil and on-point seasoning complete the dish.

Baby Gem salad_Wholesome

The Baby Gem salad at Wholesome. Photo supplied.

Wholesome‘s salads are great too, full of plentiful bits and pieces and not merely bulked up with lettuce as is so often the case at restaurants. The chickpea salad features carrot ribbons, sunflower seeds and rich goat’s cheese, with textures of fresh coriander and baby spinach. The winner, though, has to be the Baby Gem, with green beans, asparagus and tenderstem broccoli, pops of pecan nuts and sesame seeds, and a gorgeously tangy lemon-labneh dressing. (These salads are also available at Hail Pizza at dinner time.)

Watermelon and tonic cooler

The watermelon-and-tonic cooler at Wholesome. Photo by Linda Scarborough.

Drinks

There’s coffee by Deluxe, the usual hot drinks and fresh colour-coded juices, but the signature coolers are definitely worth a try. Soda water with hibiscus syrup and lime is always good (add gin if you’re in high spirits), and the watermelon-and-tonic cooler is super refreshing, garnished with crisp slices of green apple. If kombucha is your thing they’ve got it, too.

Service

The crockery may be old-school enamel plates, but the sweet touch of fresh baby’s breath blossoms in glasses and the appearance of a chilled flagon of tap water for the table (without asking) pushes Wholesome into five-star service territory. These guys know what they’re doing. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the menu.

Wholesome interior

The interior of Wholesome. Photo by Linda Scarborough.

Ambience

Wholesome is pretty dark and cool – particularly appealing if Cape Town’s seemingly endless summer is making you wilt. Grab a spot near the door to the courtyard shared with Clarke’s to get some light and pot-plant greenery in your eyeline. Guests are seated at long shared benches and tables, so you might need to get sociable if it’s busy.

And…

For elevenses, why not order a scoop of the ice cream of the day, supplied by The Creamery?

Have you visited Wholesome inside Clarke’s on Bree Street? Tell us about it in a review and we will pledge a meal for a hungry child through Stop Hunger Now SA. Write a review now.

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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