If you take a quick stroll down the historic end of Cape Town’s Adderley Street, you’d be pleased to find that inner city rejuvenation is more than just a term bandied about by politicians. One look at the new bunch of fresh, modern restaurants and coffee shops should convince even the greatest skeptic that this area is now definitely worth a visit.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of this vibrant urban hub, tourists and suits alike (yes, people do actually work in Cape Town) rub shoulders in the surprising number of little oases dotted between businesses, government buildings and museums.
First stop: Bowl, the in-house restaurant of the Adderley Hotel. Situated on the first floor of this historic building, Bowl is graced with wide verandas that provide an excellent view over the busy street. The rather pricey menu offers a mixture of elegant European and Asian dishes and with its sleekly sophisticated interior it could be the perfect place for a business lunch. They also offer cocktail platters (reservation only), so grab a few friends and pop in after work for canapés and drinks at the stylish bar.
Just around the corner you’ll find the charmingly named Patat. As the restaurant of yet another hotel (the Cape Diamond) they’re open for early birds and the bar only closes at midnight. They serve “traditional South African” food: mostly dishes which combine Malay and Dutch flavours with a good dash of “boerekos” thrown into the mix. A lunch and dinner buffet is offered weekdays and features a selection of salads, freshly baked farm-style bread (best I’ve had in years), and Sunday-lunch-with-ouma vegetables which always, of course, includes ‘patats’ (sweet potatoes).
The main attraction varies daily and ranges from such classics as bobotie and frikkadelle to cape fish and vetkoeke. At R49 for the lunch buffet and R69 for dinner, prices are very reasonable and the food is healthy, hearty and prepared with care. The décor is contemporary and dramatic but the space still manages to be laid-back and inviting. The service is warm, friendly and efficient – a pleasant surprise in a (mainly) buffet restaurant. An a la carte menu offering salads, burgers, sandwiches and cakes to the light eater or those on a tighter budget, is also available.
Josephine’s, which is tucked away just off Church Square (and a stone’s throw from the very trendy Bread, Milk and Honey) is a delightful French-style coffee shop and patisserie. The ideal place for something a little more decadent – their pain au chocolat is to die for – and fresh bread is baked daily on the premises. The interior is light and airy, tea is served in beautiful little china pots, and splashes of pink combined with whitewashed, country-style furniture adds to the prettiness of the décor. Although a bit hidden away, the location is ingenious – go on a hot day and you will find it cool and fresh, while it is wonderfully protected and inviting when the Southeaster howls. When we visited they had only been open for a month and did not yet have card facilities available. Alas, they also do not serve alcohol, but if you have the chance, pop in, unwind, and treat yourself to a freshly-baked French pastry. You’ll feel all the better for it.
Want something a bit more substantial? Walk next door to Café du Roche which, incidentally, leads you back into Adderley Street. With an excellent breakfast selection, light meals, wraps, salads, pizza, pasta and bistro style meals, you are sure to find something to your taste. The service is friendly and welcoming and the atmosphere vibey and urban. Like Josephine’s, their location also offers a protected outdoor environment.
A little inner city dining is sure to leave you wanting more. So whether you want to spend a lazy day sight-seeing or merely seek a quick escape from the office, rest assured that Adderley Street’s new wave of funky restaurants won’t let you down.