It was just the other day when I thought how Cape Town could do with a proper French-style café. Most other nationalities are represented in the city, from Ethiopian and Japanese to Italian, Korean and American. And sure, there are a few claiming to be French, but without the ability to do a decent croissant.
Then I stumbled on Café du Cap, which opened on Loop Street in the Cape Town CBD a few months ago. This weekday breakfast and lunch spot is a perfect little escape where you can enjoy homemade, wholesome food from salads to sandwhiches while listening to French café music next to the sounds of Bob Dylan, Nina Simone and The Rolling Stones. And aside from the food, you can also browse a small selection of beautiful silk kaftans and French country-style homewear pieces.
Café du Cap is the baby of Samantha Mellor, formerly a buyer for Woolworths. Her sense of style is clearly reflected the space. You enter the slender, shiny black Cartel House building to find this little gem tucked away in one corner, and it feels like stepping into a completely different time.
Wooden bistro chairs sit at grey marble tables, resting on a scatter of Afghan rugs on a bare concrete floor, all encircling the bustling kitchen at the center of the room. It feels as if every available space has been filled: Kaftans hang in one corner and vintage French homewear lines a shelf on the other end of the room. In between are plants, wine, woven baskets and hats, copper pans haging from the ceiling, even a selection of vegetables. A large couch to one end is covered in issues of FT Weekend, Monocle, Architectural Digest and Conde Nast Traveler to trigger that wanderlust during your lunch break.
There is a definite buzz to the place, but in a good way. Like someone’s home filled with chatting guests. Blues and lazy jazz music spills over the conversation, and you instantly feel life slow down a little.
Café du Cap offers a daily Plat du Jour where you can plate up your own quick lunch. Choose from ready-made salads, their quiche and pie of the day, or build your own salad from the wide selection of fresh ingredients spread out in dozens of little silver bowls. Alternatively you can take a seat and order breakfast or a sandwich from their menu.
They claim theirs is the best Croque Monsieur in town, so that’s what I went for. I’ll be honest, I haven’t had enough Cape Town Croque Monsieurs to say whether theirs takes the top spot but I can honestly say it is damn delicious. Café du Cap has done justice to this classic French sandwich, with deliciously smoky ham and creamy cheese on crispy bread, served with a simple iceberg and chive side salad. If all their food follows this standard, you’re in for a treat.
They also do breakfast, served all day, that includes dishes like 2 eggs on toast (for just R35!), smashed avo, salmon with scrambled eggs or a simple croissant with your choice of toppings. And then there’s the Naughty Cakes, which includes a Nutella Cheese Cake (!!!) and Mini Milk Tarts. Yum.
They have a standard selection of coffees, teas, and cold drinks. No alcohol at the moment.
The service was wonderful. Samantha Mellor is on the floor to make sure her customers are happy, and her staff are equally friendly and helpful. They were quick to take my order, and equally quick to get my lunch to me, which is a must if you only have an hour break.
This is possibly my favourite thing about Café du Cap – they are so well priced. Breakfasts start at just R35. Their lunch options range from R45 for the quiche of the day with salad, to R75 for the Croque Madame (a Croque Monsieur with a fried egg). Overall you get really great value for money!
Café du Cap is situated at Cartel House, 113 Loop Street, Cape Town. They are open Monday to Friday 07:30 – 17:00.
For more, visit cafeducap.com/cafe