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Carlton Café Delicious

Carlton Café Delicious
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Cost
R85 avg main meal
Ambience
Comfy & casual
Food
Bakery fare, Bistro fare, Burgers, Café fare, Coffee, Deli fare, Modern, South African
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500
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Critic's review

Alida Ryder

Food
Carlton Café has been a much-loved establishment in Pretoria for many years and it’s easy to see why. Chef-owner Rachel Botes clearly loves being creative with food and the menu at this beautiful eatery is proof of that. They have a few favourites that have been on the menu since the very beginning, as well as menu items that their regular patrons keep asking for. Amongst these is Chef Conny’s southern fried chicken: chicken breast strips are rolled in the chef’s mix of herbs and spices before being fried and served with baby potato salad and a creamy yoghurt and mustard dipping sauce.

Other favourites are their putu pap and biltong breakfast – which is simple, but so absolutely South African and a house specialty. The pap is topped with mascarpone cheese and fried beef biltong – hearty, rib-sticking stuff. For something lighter, try one of their salads (the Persian chicken salad with artichokes, olives and lemon-yoghurt dressing is a winner) or the Marmite tart. This old-fashioned Marmite tart is topped with a soft-poached egg, caramelised onions, served with a parmesan crisp. While marmite tart is absolutely delicious the Parmesan crisp is a little tough, not the crisp, thin wafer you would expect.

For something sweet, their white chocolate blondie is a favourite amongst the locals and is stuffed with macadamia nuts and comes served with their own vanilla bean ice cream.

Drinks
Carlton Café is not licensed to sell alcohol. However, you won't even notice when you try one of their innovative drinks. If you’re after something refreshing, their Anglo-Turkish iced tea with rose water and citrus will go down a treat and the granadilla lemonade is perfect on a hot summer's day. For something warmer, try their “Taai Koffie”, which is coffee with a layer of condensed milk at the bottom of the glass, or their decadent, thick hot chocolate with chilli.

Service
The staff are very well-trained and their service is friendly and efficient. There is always someone on hand when you need something but they don’t hover and give you space to peruse the menu at your own time.

Ambience
Relaxed, modern and unpretentious. The rows of cookbooks and friendly faces of the staff will leave you feeling relaxed and ready to dig into chef/owner Rachel’s unique and creative dishes.

And...
Try some of their take-away meals or make use of their excellent catering services for your next function.

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

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  • Alida Ryder

    Food
    The food at Carlton Café is absolutely inspired. It is clear that chef and owner Rachel Botes lets her creativity fly when she designs a new dish. Carlton classics like anchovy toast (anchovies blended with rosemary, served with thick slices of toasted bread) and spicy chicken mayo have been on the menu since the very beginning and have loyal patrons coming back for more. The Marmite tart is what she calls “Menlo Park nostalgia” and is simply perfection. Sweet and salty, it's topped with caramelised onions, a perfectly poached egg and a parmesan crisp.

    For something more substantial, Conny’s Southern Fried chicken should not be missed. Alternatively, their Aubergine “sandwich” – layers of aubergine comes sandwiched with honey-infused ricotta and feta cheese and served with asparagus – is light yet indulgent.

    End on the signature ice cream sandwich. You can assemble your own, or eat it as it comes: two homemade chocolate biscuits with a homemade vanilla-bean ice cream and caramel sauce.

    Drinks
    Carlton Café is not licensed to sell alcohol, and due to a legislative issue, can't allow patrons to bring their own. However, the lack of alcohol won’t even be noticed when you try one of their innovative drinks. If you’re after something refreshing, their Anglo-Turkish iced tea with rose water and citrus will go down a treat. For something warmer, try their Taai Koffie, which is coffee with a layer of condensed milk at the bottom of the glass or their decadent, thick hot chocolate with chilli.

    Ambience
    Relaxed, modern and unpretentious. Walking into this inspired space, you know you are about to experience something special. The rows of cookbooks, home-made products and friendly faces of the staff will leave you feeling relaxed and ready to dig into chef-patron Rachel’s unique and creative dishes.

    Service
    Staff members are very well trained; service is friendly and efficient. There is always someone on hand when you need something but they don’t hover and give you space to peruse the menu at your own time.

    And…
    Delicious, the café’s delicatessen, offers a whole range of treats that can be pre-ordered to take home for general enjoyment or special events.

    (October 2015)

  • Diane de Beer

    Carlton Café Delicious once again lives up to its reputation for innovation and flair, finds Diane de Beer.

    The food
    If exciting cuisine is something you cherish, allow chef Rachel Botes to tempt the senses. Not everything on the menu is exactly what it seems to be ­- you’re in for an adventure if you go along for the ride.
    Her mind wanders deliciously between textures and tastes, bringing forth balanced but brilliant food that will keep you intrigued. From picnic baskets to cakes that dazzle, deli breakfasts and lunches, nougat in flavours that take you on a magic carpet ride to one of her creative specialised dinners, she keeps pushing boundaries and serving delights that linger.
    The putu pap with fried biltong and mascarpone for breakfast and Southern fried chicken with a secret mix of spices for lunch are regulars that remain on the menu to prevent a riot.

    The drinks
    No wine is served, but they do have some sublime homemade drinks like rosemary lemonade, ginger beer and a wonderful berry cooler consisting of pulped frozen berries, honey, cranberry juice and sparkling water.

    The service
    The eatery can get very busy, but there’s always a watchful eye to see that things don’t go awry.

    The ambience
    Having moved into a larger venue (from a previous location at the other end of this row of shops), the restaurant seems to have slipped naturally into its new, natural state. Nice touches include sunlit garden boxes that hedge the outside tables, providing herbs and the odd eggplant or cabbage for the kitchen, and the eclectic mix of bookcases inside, which adds a quirky touch. It’s an easy place to access, with parking right in front of the store, if you’re lucky.

    And…
    Locals make good use of the delicatessen for ordering take-home fair; there’s a huge range, but favourites include pies or, if you’re in a decadent mood, baked cheesecake and killer chocolate mousse cake.
    (July 2014)
  • Diane de Beer

    With a nod to serious coffee, the café serves Bean There Fair Trade coffee from Africa. But they also have their playful moments, with their tongue-in-cheek taai coffee with condensed milk. Go all the way and indulge in Oreo baked cheesecake with a brownie base and a caramel topping. (August 2014)
  • Food
    A delicious seasonal menu with beautifully plated comfort food. Even an ordinary sandwich becomes a moreish feast at Carlton Café. Try the oven-toasted grissone with beef biltong and creamy blue cheese, served with fresh papaya and sweet chilli sauce, and finish with the decadent New York baked cheesecake.

    Wine
    Bring your own. Homemade rosemary, lemonade and ginger ale chillers, berry coolers and delectable hot chocolate are also on offer.

    Service
    The long-serving competent staff know the menu and the regular patrons.

    Ambience
    This is a neighbourhood gem with some tables on the sidewalk where you can watch the world go by.

    And...
    Delicious, the delicatessen service of Carlton Café, is outstanding. Be sure to place orders for sinful chocolate blondies or brownies, for example, well in advance. (CR, October 2012)
  • Diane de Beer

    Carlton Café Delicious is one of Pretoria's best food spots. It has recently tripled in size with ambience that'll blow you away, service that sparkles and food that always delivers both class and creativity. In its new guise there's not much to fault and the regulars have grown to fill the space that suddenly became available. The menu changes with the seasons, but for breakfast you can opt for eggs Benedict or Florentine, and move on as the day progresses to incredible sandwiches, bunny chows, melkkos and anchovy toast – and all will have an individuality that showcases the chef's flair. Baked goodies can be sampled in bite size with coffee or tea or bought to take home. Recommended for a lazy, long lunch.

User reviews

  • A very refreshing café with lots of friendly faces. The food leaves one a bit disappointed as it lacks a delicate touch. I ordered the Eggs Benedict option with soft pouched eggs. The plate arrangement felt a bit lonely, all the elements had various temperatures throughout, and the toasted bread was burnt. Leaving every bite with an overpowering burnt taste. You would expect a bit more for R90.
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  • BEST restaurant in town. The only downside is the hours.
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  • My favorite place to go on a Saturday morning for a brunch-lunch (basically when you missed brunch, but its not yet lunch time - thus you are entitled to order either eggs or a burger). The staff is always friendly...there is always something new to try (the daily specials or a new seasonal menu)...and the coffee is always excellent. I highly recommend the carlton spicy chicken mayo sandwich...you literally go "what is in this" with every bite. The rosemary chiller is everything you could ever hope for in a lemonade (warning - highly addictive). For a cosy, chilled but oh so yummy lunch or breakfast...go here!!!
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  • Amongst the Best one will find in Pretoria for quick lunch or breakfast. Had the pork belly salad with coconut, pure gold! Eggplant sandwich with cottage cheese unbeatable And do not leave, before you tried the Oreo Cheesecake. We will be back again and again and again.
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  • Just one word Awesome!!!!!.
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  • Rachel never disappoints, still the most innovative and exciting food in the East.
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  • Terrible food! Worst service ever.

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  • I don't understand the fuss. After seeing it recommended on the eatout newsletter, I was keen to try this little cafe. Perhaps the breakfasts are worthwhile but lunch offerings were uninspiring and the service is shockingly slow.

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  • I had the cakes @ peoples houses and really found they good. We always pass by. We decide to go the other day, it was just the beggining of spring- for tea. I was a bit disappointed. We got very hot at the balcony, sun was over us, tables were too crammed one over the other. Service was really bad and slow. My cake was sour, My daughter had brownie, which was not bad but did not ressemble a brownie at all, more of a biscuit sort of result.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Food
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

Stores and Markets

Chef Rachel Botes is deliciously inspired. Her work is simultaneously super-high skill and original yet unpretentiously accessible to all. Whether you want almond-infused milk tarts, creamy vlakoekies, Pinotage and rosemary bread, or rose-laden chocolate mousse cakes it is all yummy with a capital Y. Numerous Joburg foodies make a weekly trek up the highway to savour the buttery brioche and maple and Merlot breads.
Ethical shopper tip: The baked New York-style cheesecakes are made with organic cream cheese.

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