It seems like just the other day that Clarke’s was a cheeky newcomer serving all-day breakfasts amid car workshops and battery centres. Now Bree Street has become one of the city’s trendiest culinary strips, and Clarke’s has lost none of its hip charm. Its modern diner offering has evolved to include millennial food preferences, so expect kombucha on tap, with or without Stolichnaya, and a tasty breakfast option of kimchi fried rice with mushrooms, radishes and crispy kale that’s full of umami flavour. The burgers that made its reputation are as juicy as ever. Try buttermilk-fried chicken burger that although skimpy on the miso mayo, otherwise hits the spot.
The ‘day food’ menu offers many reasons for a return visit, among them the Reuben sandwich with 12-hour brisket, braised cabbage and blue cheese dressing, or the home-made queso fresco (soft white cheese) and pico de gallo (spicy tomato salsa) that accompany the huevos rancheros. Oh, and red-wine-simmered black beans for breakfast should be a thing.
‘Night food’ is served from 4pm, from a curtailed version of the day menu, with the addition of another Clarke’s institution – the justly famous Fifteen Rand Oyster.
On the sweet side, the dessert menu has to be the work of a chocolate lover, with brownies, chocolate pie and a hot fudge brownie sundae on offer. Keep an eye on the blackboard for the day’s flavours of artisanal home-made ice cream and forego coffee in favour of affogato – a scoop of ice cream doused with a shot of hot espresso.
There’s a compact wine list and the obligatory line-up of craft beers, but you’re here for the lovely all-day cocktails. The hibiscus and gin soda, with house-brewed organic hibiscus syrup, is highly recommended, as is working your way down the list from there.
An air of detachment comes standard with the service, which manages to be both brisk and on the slow side.
Despite a rocky moment about three years ago, Clarke’s embodies the best of Cape Town: Its clientele is every kind of diverse and the universal welcome extends to your four-legged friends. It’s a place where you bring out-of-town visitors when you want them to really like your city.
All-day breakfasts that make you stick around for cocktails.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.