Café Review: 61 + ate, Cape Town

Relatively new to Cape Town’s ever-growing culinary restaurant/café scene is the rather cleverly named 61 + ate, the brainchild of chef Debbie Bolton and best friend, Leo, who jointly own and run this charming ‘artisan café’, located quite unobtrusively, it must be said, on 61 Loop Street.

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61 Loop Street, Cape Town

A short time ago, my friend and I were trekking up both Long and Loop Street looking for a new café to haunt after a rare shorter day at uni. – and after a few fruitless suggestions (and one alarmingly forward waitress…), we finally stumbled across the perfect spot, which instantly appealed to us both.

Perhaps it was the cheekily humourous chalkboard outside that read, “Romeo and Juliet is my favourite story about how when you fall in love you, it’s best to just kill yourself!” Or maybe it was the understated elegance of the building’s exterior, with its black-and-red paintwork, rounded off by the quietly bold ’61 + ate’ sign.

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We were lured inside by the above, as well as the prevailing cosiness of what, even to my inexpert foodie eyes, looked, at first glance, to be a prime breakfast- and lunch-spot – as indeed it is!

We settled down at a table-for-two nearest the entrance, where pre-winter rays were temptingly slanting in through the beautiful French doors, alongside which pots of cool, green foliage rest on matching wooden shelves.

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There is, however, a healthy choice of both smaller and larger seating arrangements, with the seating on the right, against the Table Mountain wall (literally), allowing one to relax and sit back on a comfy, cushion-strewn couch.

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This appears to be the more popular side but we enjoyed staring at the Table Mountain ‘mural’ and having a quieter corner to ourselves, where beautiful artworks and coloured porcelain bunnies (which you can purchase for R280; these seem to be growing in popularity too of late) kept an eye on us.

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Colourful porcelain bunnies on sale for R280.

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Each table – made from smooth, almost honey-coloured wood, with chairs to match – bore a small vase (with a single orange rose placed inside), a chunky glass sugar jar and a metal salt dish. Whilst the main counter (again, wood is the dominant furnishing and it adds a certain warmth to the place, I thought) offers a selection of glass display cases, with the beverage-making equipment looming just behind. (There is also a small, unisex bathroom set just off from it too.)

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Each table is finished off sweetly with a beautiful rose-filled vase and chunky sugar jar.

The behind-the-counter hot beverage menu offers one (aside from the standard cardboard-style menu’s selection of: iced coffee (R25) and iced teas (R35) and cold-pressed juices (R25) and the delicious-looking ‘Pop my Berry’ Smoothie (R32)) a variety of options.

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61 + ate’s tasty-sounding breakfast- and lunch-menu.

These included my personal favourite, at least as far as names go, the +Obama/Bush Americano (R18). (Though it has since evolved to +Obama/Bush/Trump for R18/22 ‘red cappucino’, according to their Instagram feed.

My friend settled for + Lindt mocha (R27), while I ordered the + Lindt hot chocolate (R25). (Prices vary between R18-27)

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Pictured: + Lindt mocha (above) with +Lindt hot chocolate below.

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Aside from the tempting sweet treats like Lindt chocolate cake and ‘sugar tits’, (fresh sugar buns for R20), there is also a wonderful lunch offering for local CBD workers and passers-by.

Known as the Harvest Table, the aim of which, according to crush online’s Tamsyn Dodds, is to “fill your plate up with goodies from the selection.” As we sipped our drinks, we watched in fascination as hungry workers streamed in and began dishing up food from this decked out buffet table.

The choices (and prices; these can be between R55-R65 per plate) for this daily lunch buffet vary day-in and day-out but you can expect a healthy assortment of lunchtime meals. These may include: chicken pot pie, veggie lasagne, homemade bread and hummus, salads (beetroot, carrot + coriander and pasta), mac + cheese, pulled pork and Turkish cous cous etc.

Other great-sounding (and looking) breakfast and lunch options (61 + ate does both sit-down and takeaway apparently) include: their new corn and butternut fritters, chickpea and chorizo soup, apple pancakes (R65), Hangover Hash (R70) and oxtail sarmie (R80) to name just a few. Meals start at R17 (plain croissant) and run up to R80, but R65-70 is generally the average.

Our drinks were both served on a cute wooden plate and a lovely, floral white-and-lime-green cup, which was slightly bigger than usual; we loved this arrangement. To complement our drinks, we also received a yummy, little stubby biscuit.

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61 + ate’s quiet, warm atmosphere is perfect for a quick meal or catch-up.

Aside from the simple but lovely and timeous presentation of our drinks (served by none other than Leo herself, with Debbie later bringing us the bill, again showing the duo’s hands-on approach to their seemingly thriving business), they were truly good.

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My friend is rather a staunch coffee critic but even she thought her mocha was one of the nicest she’d ever had and rated it 7/10.

I, on the other hand, have previously ordered several dark or professed ‘Lindt’ chocolate drinks and had more than a few taste decidedly ordinary, so this drink was indeed a wonderful and tasty surprise! 🙂 My Lindt hot chocolate was excellent and really did have a Lindt creamy richness to it, selling me on its authenticity. It was a very good, well-priced drink and as such, I rate it 8/10.

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+Lindt hot chocolate (R25)

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Overall, we had a great time and I would definitely love to revisit 61 + ate. As such, this increasingly popular eat-out joint gets an overall 8/10 rating for: good, timely service from a small team of evidently dedicated staff, a charming atmosphere and above all, quality drinks and foods, reasonably priced. For myself, I hope to head back quite soon to try its food offerings too! 🙂

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For more info. on 61 + ate, you can call them on: +27 (021) 426 1273 or pop over to 61 Loop Street, Cape Town for a visit. Alternatively, check out their website or follow them on social media.

  • Facebook: 61 + Ate
  • Twitter: @61plusate
  • Instagram: @61_PLUS_ATE

Let me know your thoughts or suggestions! I'd love to hear from you.