A meal at Bird’s Boutique Cafe is something of an experience, and if you haven’t already stopped off to taste Mathilde Stegmann and her daughter’s delectable dishes, then I would advise that you do.
Set on the corner of Bree and Church Street in a building that is most un-restaurant-like, there isn’t anything quite like this café in Cape Town. The concept defies categorisation, and yet the food is simple, home-cooking. Described as a ‘unique, artistic refuge’ the café, despite sounding such, is not pretentious and doesn’t work hard at just being what it is – a kitchen that feeds its patrons seriously yummy and distinctive food, with none of the gloss, glamour and self-indulgent ostentation that some other restaurants manage.
The first impression to strike you on walking through the doorway, is that you have perhaps entered a backstage set build. With a curtain dividing the kitchen from the the restaurant, ceramic birds suspended from the ceiling, and overturned crates for chairs (don’t worry there are cushions to soften the perch) you would be forgiven for thinking similar, but you soon realise that it has more to do with seriously unconventional informality than the theatre, even if birdsong accompanies your meal.
Mathilde and her daughter hail from Swakopmund in Namibia and named the restaurant after the feathered variety for whom Mathilde has much affinity, particularly seagulls. The main emphasis is on fresh, organic fare and the need to slow down, which you do automatically as food served here is of the slow variety (both the service and the time allocated to prepare your meal).
There is a real sense of the journey of food. Seasonal veg and fruit lie in crates just visible below the curtain line, waiting for use in the next freshly squeezed juice, and the menu describes what blend of herbs, vegetables and other ingredients are involved in your menu item of choice. Menus are hand-written, probably because they change every day as a sign of the seasonal emphasis, but drinks stay the same, and I can recommend their organic coffee.
Despite the pace of food production, Bird’s is popular. There is seldom a dull moment and as people stop to greet colleagues and friends on their way in or out of the door you realise that Bird’s has followers not just casual customers. And it is no surprise given the flavourful food!
We’ve been to Bird’s on a couple of occasions following a meeting in town with colleagues just around the corner. The food is sumptious! There is no scrimping on ingredients or taste. The price of menu items reflects this, although people don’t seem to mind, given that this simple, satisfying food is so obviously home-made without sparing any detail, and the portions are generous.
On our way through the restaurant, our colleague stops to greet a couple of journalists – one of them is based at the Beeld and the other is a guest journalist up from Durban; they’re obviously swopping trade secrets. They’re already hard at work on their generous cups of coffee, and one look at the monster slice of quiche before one of them on the table, and all thought of networking flies out of the window. On the other side of the restaurant four gents who must be in advertising or design of some sort are bent in discussion, whilst the waitress scribbles their order in pencil in in her booklet.
Their seasonal tomato soup and quiche of the day are extraordinary. Despite reading the entire menu and being more than a little swayed by a couple of items, I succumbed to the quiche and wasn’t sorry. It was so creamy and rich that I found myself closing my eyes and hmmming with satisfaction.
Whilst I haven’t sampled the sandwiches, I can tell you that they come heaped with ingredients (as did the quiche) and when you manage to get your mouth around them (quite an endeavour, I should imagine) your mouth should explode with the various combinations of avo, tomato, smoked chicken, mozzarella, sprouts, green, seeds and a good dollop of oil and balsamic vinegar.
Our colleague ordered the cheesecake and upon seeing the look on my face, handed me a fork. It came on a crust of note, despite, or is that inspite, of its being wheat-free. Mountains of creamy yet light cheese interspersed with poppyseed and raisins and all topped with a huge dollop of cream fresh from the farm – I ask you, what more could you want?
Address & Contact Details:
127 Bree St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
Telephone: +27 (0)21 426-2534