Restaurant Review: Old Cape Cafe, Gordon’s Bay

A recent trip to Gordon’s Bay with my parents (and a wonderfully scenic mountain drive afterwards along the R44 between GB and Rooiels… To see my travel review on this, please visit my main site’s homepage: http://tamlynamberwanderlust.com) on a reasonably warm winter’s afternoon helped to unearth the quaint and undoubtedly charming treasure trove that is the Old Cape Cafe.

Beach Road, which runs adjacent to the lovely, clean Main Beach, is reminiscent of Sea Point Promenade with its cluster of sea-facing restaurants and cafes that catch one’s eye and tempt the appetite.

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Although there were quite a few options for us to choose from, upon my mum’s selection, we ended up at OC. (There is guarded parking across from and also just in front of the cafe itself, though it fills up quickly)

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Found at 33 Beach Road, Shop 1 of the Old Cape Mall, OC’s didn’t look like all that much from the road to me, although its view of the nearby beach and pretty grassy area (where, again, much like with Sea Point, dog lovers and families can enjoy walking together), as well as its lovely, purpley-white Barefoot Wine (for more info. on this international brand, please see: http://barefootwine.com) umbrella-covered wooden deck were certainly favourable drawcards.

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My initial skepticism soon limped away in some embarrassment after I had mounted the wooden steps and momentarily stepped inside the cafe’s inner depths, which are a burst of vibrant red and purple walls.

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The bar area at the furtherest end, as I would later discover en route to the clean and very basic bathroom (there is one unisex stall with an outside wash basin available to you should you require them), offers a weathered blue bar counter, with a complementary yellow wall behind.

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Whilst wooden picnic benches (if you sit near the road-facing tables, be careful when you lean back as there’s a considerable gap between the edge of the seat and the outer rail with a slight drop below, something my handbag nearly had the misfortune of encountering) prevail on the deck area outside, inside there are red cushioned chairs and sturdy, old-fashioned tables, covered with delightfully colourful, edgy tablecloths.

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Another thing that caught my eye even from the outside, were the many candles, carefully placed in glasses, that aligned the windowsills, no doubt to add a softer, almost romantic nighttime atmosphere and to stop load shedding in its darkness-enveloping tracks.

(A few minutes into our visit, I was pleased to hear the throaty purr of the restaurant’s generator as it pounced into life as the aforementioned afternoon load shedding was implemented… So kudos to OC’s for adjusting to the national climate.)

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According to their nice, leatherbound Barefoot Wine ‘stomped’ menus, OC’s see themselves as: “an authentic Southern African Social Cafe and eatery with a coffee bar, diner lounge and cocktail deck.”

Another thing they are quick to emphasise is that they are not a tavern or restaurant per se, but rather a “social cafe”, hence their “It’s Social,” slogan.

OC’s is apparently “owner run” and as such, queries and the like can be taken up with the owner(s) at any time, though their waitrons (there are framed black-and-white ‘mugshots’ of each staff member near the Cake Fridge… I thought this was a sweet and playful way to ensure each member of staff is publically named and… recognised 🙂 ) are very hands-on and should be able to attend to your needs.

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Three other things that quickly charmed me were the brightly coloured tree (wrapped in neon coloured cloths of every shade possible) that was directly behind our table, the colourful wooden wall near the opposite corner table and the quirky quotes and menu items that are generally painted in white against black backgrounds inside and out!

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The main ‘quote’ near the entrance proclaimed, “Carpe Crepe – Seize The Pancake,” (a rather cute play on the Latin phrase Carpe Diem – Seize The Day), there was a hilarious one near the bar (something about alcohol) and even one painted on the inside of the bathroom door! These had me quietly chuckling in amusement so be sure to have a look at them if you can – they add extra character to this charming, little place.

The cheery paintings and other interior design elements all work really well together and add a lovely finish to the overall interior (Even the stencilled blue-and-white main sign is unique to the place and works well once you get used to it).

Another important element at any eatout place is the background music. OC’s says that theirs is, “predominantly Bossa Nova mixed with Southern African and International favourites.”

On the afternoon of our visit, the music was soft and calming, as much as it was pleasant.

Because we sat out on the cocktail deck, we had a wonderful view of the street, the majestic Hottentot Holland mountains that overlook the coast-lying Gordon’s Bay (a charming place and one of my favourite seaside villages/towns, so to speak), as well as the Main Beach just across the road from the Old Cape Mall wherein OC’s exists. It’s a really special setting and the area’s quietness reminded me of my own home town of Montagu.

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The Barefoot Wine umbrellas provide good shade but even in winter, there is scattered sunshine to combat any ocean breeze that might blow ashore. Still, if it gets too nippy outside during winter months, the indoor seating, as described earlier, is delightful too.

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My favourite indoor features were the quote-covered inner wall (complete with its own windows that provide a ‘through looking-glass’ view from the bar area, which is not short on beverage bottles, though seating is slightly limited in that section) and the ornate iron wall (I’m not sure how else to describe it but I found it really beautiful and it breaks up the more traditional vibes and cosy interior).

Something else one simply has to check out is the Cake Fridge… I went back to look at it about three times if I’m completely truthful. Aside from asking your waitron, that’s really the only way you can tell what OC cakes* are available on the day… And be sure to ask for the pricings of each while you are at… something we carelessly neglected to do – but more on that later! *(Desserts and their prices, are listed on the menu)

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There’s also a lovely courtyard (I don’t think this is necessarily part of OC’s but I am not 100% sure) and lovely nooks and crannies where you can choose to sit, if you opt to park down indoors, that is.
Their quite extensive and reasonably priced (at least for the most part) standard menu offers the following: traditional grill and seafood dishes, breakfast (there’s even an LCHF section for the Banting dieters…) and brunch options, burgers, seafood and desserts, as well as a selection of hot and cold beverages.

I really liked their coffee options, which consist of the following: the house coffee, cappuccino, expresso (single/double), iced coffee, latte and either Kahlua or Irish coffee.

(The pancakes – and their selection of interesting fillings – were another of elements that caught my eye on the menu and for a while it was a toss between those and the tramezzini, which was the eventual winner in this instance but only just.)

Aside from the standard menu, there’s also the ‘Off The Hook’ Menu (this includes – among other things – Beef Ribs (R120) and Rosemary Lamb Chops) and the ‘Cafe Specialities’, which feature: Boerewors or Bangers with Mash, Liver & Onions, Beef Straganoff, Trinchado and lastly, William’s Chicken.

I went for their Iced Coffee (always a firm favourite with me), whilst my dad had the cappuccino (R20) and my mum the latte (R22).

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These were all nicely presented in cups and/or ‘Clipper’ glasses bearing an interesting black sailing ship symbol… Another little quirk that appealed to me.

My Iced Coffee (R24) was seriously good and is the second best that I have sampled in the past year and, as such, it receives a 9/10 rating.

My parents both rated their drinks as 10/10 and I must say, they looked just as tasty as mine.

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For our main, we all decided to have a tramezzini. Aside from the traditional plain toasted pita bread, served with mozzarella cheese, you receive chips and have the option of choosing from a range of yummy fillings; these can cost between R8-18 per filling depending on what you go for.

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My mum chose both bacon (R18) and mushrooms (R8) in hers, whilst my dad and I both went for the chorizo (R18) filling (note: Chirzo is a kind of spicy sauage.)

Alternative options (to name but a few) include: spinach and feta, chicken mayo., savoury mince, prego steak and lastly, sauteed onions.

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My tramezzini was seriously tasty and more than satisfying enough. It was delightfully fresh and thick, positively loaded with mozzarella and both tramezzinis included most generous helpings of the bacon, mushroom and chorizo fillings.

Also, the chips were lovely and thick and completely unoily (The meals were served on large white plates with parseley sprinkled around the edges of the plates).

I tried both of the two tramezzini fillings at our table but still far preferred mine as it seemed traditional enough, yet still had an extra kick to it in the excellent chotizo.

I’m rather a fan of hot and spicy food so I enjoyed the slight nip of the chorizo but if you don’t like spicy cuisine, I hasten to add that it was not overly strong. It just has a wonderful flavour, similar to salame.
Still, if you are after something fractionally blander and less sharp, the bacon will more than do the job.

I enjoyed the bacon + mushroom tramezzini but it gets a 7/10 rating from me. My mum gave it a 8-9/10 rating and seemed to really enjoy it.

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As for my chorizo-filled tram., it gets a well-deserved 9/10 rating and was seriously yummy. I thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful. My dad, who had the same filling, gave his a 10/10 rating.

I found the standard price of the tramezzini and chips, including the fillings, of R35 (especially as that was for a main meal) to be very reasonable and good value for money.

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Although we were stuffed, the cakes we had seen earlier were too tempting to leave untasted. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of ordering ‘blindly’, so to speak, as we failed to ask the price per slice before paying.

I still feel that you should be made aware of the price but it is a case of ‘ask and ye shall receive’ so we can take responsibility for that.

Before I price drop, I must say that, although I am a huge apple crumble fan and am not particularly fond of either cheesecake or lemon meringue pie these days, the blueberry cheesecake and lemon meringue we ordered were positively divine.

The portions were very considerable and both had an amazing crumb base. They were also accompanied by a generous dollop of fresh cream and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

The slices themselves were truly yummy and so fresh. My blueberry cheesecake was complete with beautiful fresh blueberry jam and lovely chunks of the fruit inside. They were both exquisite to look at and even better to eat.

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I couldn’t finish my slice so I slid half across to my dad.

As far as the ratings for these are concerned, my blueberry cheesecake receives a 9/10 rating, whilst my mum and dad awarded the lemon meringue with a 10/10 rating (Personally, I would give it an 8/10).

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After that, we asked for the bill and one of our two waitrons brought it shortly afterwards. I think our drinks and main meal were very reasonably priced but I literally gasped when I leaned across to see what the cake slices had come to.

They were certainly large pieces but I have never before paid R40 for a slice of cake – not even at Charly’s Bakery in the Cape Town CBD and they are quite famous for being somewhat pricy. I just feel this was more than a tad expensive and had I known the price in advance, I don’t believe I would have ordered my sweet treat after all… But that’s really my only criticism of the Old Cape Cafe.

As such, they come highly recommended and duly receive an overall rating of 8/10 for the following: a stunning setting, with lovely indoor and outdoor seating, a charming cafe interior, as well as excellent food, that, but for the cakes, is generally well-priced.

(The staff were very good and come when needed without being bothersome.)

After our happy time spent at OC’s, we walked over to the grassy area in front of Main Beach to take some photos of the beautiful surroundings and as I glanced back across the road, I couldn’t help but take note of the charming little cafe we had just vacated. 🙂

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A few important aspects to note about the menu include the following:

* As they work with nuts and offer nut products, OC’s cannot guarantee nut-free food.

* Meals are made to order and as such, may take longer during peak periods. (Ours were served quite quickly on the day)

* Fillings are generally charged individually so keep this in mind before and after ordering. (Also, the service charge is not included in the menu prices.)

The Old Cape Cafe is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; the kitchen closes at 9:00 p.m.

To find out more about the Old Cape Cafe, pop by and make a day of it in Gordon’s Bay at 33 Beach Road, Shop 1, Old Cape Mall, 7150 or call them on: + 27 (021) 856 0248.

You can also check out and Like their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/OldCapeCafe.

Many thanks to the Old Cape Cafe menu and Facebook page for the additional info. used in this post!

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