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Posted on: Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Café Paradiso – patio dining in Kloof street, Cape Town

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Café Paradiso

Café Paradiso

Nothing like a Sunday morning brunch with views out over the city bowl, and Table Mountain as your backdrop. Somehow these Madame Zingara types manage to get it right every time, and Café Paradiso is no exception (the restaurant is one of several that fall under the Madam Zingara umbrella).

The buzz on Kloof Street is evident no matter what time of the week you get there, but a weekend in summer it’s even more so. Scooters scoot by – their young, hip, tanned and trendy bearded drivers in sneakers and little else, taxis teem, people lope by in scant, fashionable clothing and parking spaces, when you can find one, are on a sharp incline or decline (a working handbrake is a pre-requisite for breakfast).

The sun always shines on Kloof Street.

We were lucky to get a table at all on the very busy veranda, and I wished that I hadn’t taken the early chill of the morning wind quite so seriously, as without summer wear I baked.

The venue – pebbled, tree-canopied, garden courtyard, complete with rustic bicycle, water feature and bamboo clad veranda – and the menu more than made up for any discomfort.

After finally hunting down a water jug (they seemed to be rather thin on the ground), Dean placed it with some aplomb in the centre of our table filled with iced water, mint and lemon pieces. If the (free) water gets that much attention then it bodes well for the standard of presentation of the food, and I wasn’t wrong.

Cafe Paradiso

Photographs: Left – Cafe Paradiso entrance / Right – Lazy days

Go with time to spare. This is not a restaurant at which you can expect your food within minutes of trailing up the stairs from the street. You’re here to bask in the sun, lazily follow passers-by with your eyes, doodle on the white paper clad tables, and generally catch up on the week, and more, whilst your food is being rustled up.

Don’t go anticipating the eccentricity and antics of the Madam Zingara tent either. Café Paradiso, by comparison, is quite tame. Unless slightly stoned, and apologetically  slow waiters, qualify. But then it was really hot, and really busy.

The Italian / Mediterranean farmhouse style menu serves breakfast that includes organic, hand-pressed orange juice (all gone by the time we got there) and some marvellous looking dishes that include panned-black mushroom crostini with garlic butter, scrambled egg with potato-spinach rosti, classic omelettes and slow baked wheat-free muesli with farm yoghurt.

Lunch is a healthy mix of open sandwiches, starters, salads, pasta and mains and the kids menu is really worth it – their home-made fish fingers that come with a healthy side of chips costs just R45.

An aside: the restaurant is obviously child-friendly as there are toys to use in the water feature, and one can order a ‘kid’s project’ to keep them busy – making their own pizza or icing their own cupcake might not keep them going for an hour as indicated, but it will be a welcome diversion for half an hour or so, if yours are so inclined.

Cafe Paradiso

Photographs: Left – Water feature / Right – Rosemary chicken

We played noughts and crosses, drank copious amounts of water and listened in on a few classic conversations – our neighbour’s credit card came from God, apparently, which is helpful to know. I’ll be sure to put in an order.

If you can, try the free-range rosemary chicken with quinoa and feta, fresh tomatoes and herb salad. The fresh rosemary dressing that comes with it is incredible. Most people ordered the veg or meat antipasti and endless glasses of wine, but I think I got a better deal for my money.

Desserts, which we really should have sampled but didn’t, include mocha meringues with ice cream, the best living lemon meringue, baked soufflé cheese cake (oh, why didn’t I just succumb?) and chocolate brownies.

Trading times: Tuesday to Saturday from 09h00 to 22h00 and Sunday from 10h00 to 19h00

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Wanda Coustas


Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

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