Diane de Beer
There are those who would start with the tummy-warming anchovy toast and end with the chocolate brownies that drift into soft-landing memories. That’s what Rachel Botes and her specific food sensibilities do to you. She plays with texture, tradition, freshness and quality to create dishes that bring both a smile and satisfaction to a dining experience. She challenges herself and constantly changes the feasts on her brightly coloured plates.
On the regular menu, sample the three-cheese tart, handmade and topped with a green bean salad and a date and orange dressing; or the Persian salad with pan-fried chicken served on rocket and salad greens with a salsa of artichokes, olives, piquanté peppers and pecan nuts topped with parsley, mint, cream cheese and a lemon-yoghurt dressing. These should inform you about the exciting flavour explosions abundant on the menu.
For special occasions or private meetings, don’t forget about her special table in the deli right next door, where orders are placed for delicious dishes and then collected. It is a space that invites you to party or have long and lingering meals around that special table.
Finally they have a liquor licence, which allows Carlton Café to have special evening food and wine-pairing events. On the daily wine list, the emphasis is on quality yet inexpensive wines but you’ll also discover some collectible finds. The sourcing is fantastic.
This is a warm bunch with friendly smiles and quick service. They can be run off their feet, but they’re always on alert, with many eyes on the lookout for problems.
One of a kind, Carlton Café has a street café vibrancy with passers-by and constant traffic as people pop in for a comforting lunch or a quick coffee. From sweet-smelling roses to the best baked goodies of all-time, it can all be sampled on the spot or taken home to extend the feeling of goodness.
Even in this busy street, parking is always available. It feels like home away from home.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Try some of their take-away meals or make use of their excellent catering services for your next function.
Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Diane de BeerCarlton Café Delicious once again lives up to its reputation for innovation and flair, finds Diane de Beer.
Diane de BeerWith 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)
Diane de BeerCarlton 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.
Terrible food! Worst service ever.
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.