Aside from the fact that whenever vaguely in the vicinity, I find reason to pop into the Olympia Café’s in Kalk Bay, which now offers its breads, pastries, danishes and other delectable tasties around the corner from the eatery on the corner of Main Road and Boyes Drive, I have also had occasion to breakfast there at least once and found reason to dine there more than twice – and I don’t even live in Kalk Bay.
This rather obviously expresses my enthusiasm for the popular place. The food is, well, it’s really good. And for what you receive on your plate, excellent value. The bread is heavenly (I defy anyone to find tastier ciabata on the peninsular) and the menu takes its cue from the accessibility and availability of fresh, local, organic where possible ingredients …
But the main reason for going is the unpretentiousness of the place. Wooden tables and rather old, mismatched chairs, as well as paintings and photographs by local artists give it character.
There is always a bustling atmosphere, people are prepared to queue for a table, and the view from the window over Main Road and the harbour, whilst not breath-taking, makes for interesting ‘people watching’ opportunities (although on this particular visit, much of this was marred by scaffolding – obviously a temporary hindrance).
I’ve yet to be disappointed by Olympia Café. And it’s fairly obvious why – even the waitors like to work here because, whilst it may be an award-winning eatery, there is also a genuine passion to the way their down-to-earth nosh is served that invokes a quality that every restaurateur wishes he could bottle.
I was particularly struck on this visit, by a blatent refusal to stock bottled mineral water, by a menu item on the chalk board behind the counter, which stated that mineral water was ‘N/A’. Tap water was, however, at a cost of R0.0.
It appears that the café and its owner are doing their bit for the environment, and running an ethical business. Staff here receive better that average hourly rates, the restaurant is SASSI aware and never serves fish on the red list, organic and local fruit and veg is sourced as much as possible, and their fish is bought fresh across the road in the harbour from local fishermen.
Given the chance, the average waitron will do anything but enthuse about his employer (and often for good reason) and the way a restaurant runs its business, but here is one venue where the opposite occurred. There is no better advert, not that this particular restaurant needs marketing!
And there is plenty of reason to head over to the little village of Kalk Bay, even if the current road works on Main Road between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay are something of a deterrent!
This quaint, seaside hamlet, with a high street that is Cape Town’s closest thing to Portobello Road in London (although much smaller) is humming with a combination of vintage stores, book shops (including Kalk Bay Books), galleries (don’t forget the modern art gallery above Olympia Café). And a fair number of bohemian boutiques and restaurants means that it is never quiet.
Hard to believe that during the early 1990s there was not a restaurant or fancy apartment in evidence, and the nearest thing to a deli was the corner café that sold fish and chips. In a former life the fish and chips shop had been known as the Olympia tea room and the building was home to a hotel and movie house.
The deli and restaurant’s current owner, who worked up the road at the Brass Bell during the early 1990s, knew something we didn’t and succumbed to a dream of reinstating the beautiful old building into something of its former glory. We’re rather glad that he did.
For more about Kalk Bay and surrounding suburbs see:
- False Bay Coast Beaches
- Kalk Bay Accommodation
- False Bay Coast Accommodation
- Cape Town Accommodation
- South Africa Accommodation
Find Olympia Cafe at 134 Main Road in Kalk Bay or phone: +27 (0)21 788-6396.