It isn’t difficult to hide little tea nooks in the leafy southern suburbs of Cape Town. Many of those listed here are tucked away, off the beaten track, some of them in resuscitated period homes, others not necessarily here for their menu but rather their venue.
But each of these is worth a visit for its particular offering, be it the location, the food, the décor, or simply because you need to know about it. Treat each with the respect it deserves, and only tell your very best friends about them…
Queen of Tarts, Obs
Lying out of the way in Lower Main Road in Observatory, Queen of Tarts, as its name suggests, doesn’t take itself terribly seriously. Looking as though it has stepped off the streets of Paris with its black and white décor, its exterior a regenerated Victorian/Cape Dutch rendition, Queen of Tarts has a reputation for its breakfasts and teas. Even if its prices are a tad dear, its followers regard the little gem as untouchable and well worth it for its great coffee and food.
Once you’ve dined on one of the Queen’s delicious tarts that come in various guises including butternut and camembert, potato, pecorino and bacon or roasted veg, pesto and feta, and picked up one of their sweet delicacies to take home with you, you will feel as though you’ve been part of an experience, rather than just nipped out to the corner café for tea. And this is perhaps part of the Queen’s secret, and why people return again and again.
Tip: have a look at Tina’s (of the Queen of Tarts) flamboyant cakes whilst you’re there – she makes and bakes for all occasions.
High Tea, Wynberg
This is really an out-of-the-way little breakfast and tea nook in Wynberg, situated just off Constantia Road as it becomes Gabriel Road (before the circle) behind Farriers. High Tea lies in an inner courtyard laid out in the classical garden style that one would expect to find at Versailles (that’s the one in Paris), but which works surprisingly well here, given that there are a number of statues and garden décor from one or two décor shops that share the space, and work well in the garden. A fountain adds to the authenticity and provides a gentle background gush.
High Tea isn’t open until 9am, so don’t expect to have an early morning breakfast meeting here, but the meals are generous, delicious and well priced, given their location, and there is always the offer of coffee should you get there ahead of time. Interestingly, High Tea with cucumber sandwiches doesn’t make it onto the menu, but ensure that you pick up one of their chocolate truffle cakes or other sweet delights on offer, before heading back into the fray.
Tip: there is also a hair salon in the courtyard, so indulge yourself.
Florentines is real old world charm, set off the main drag in Myrtle Road, Kenilworth. The tea shop specialises in indulgent breakfasts, teas and lunches, and includes an array of freshly baked cakes, tarts and muffins. The bright, comfortable shop oozes frivolity all the way to the loos, which sport a brightly bejewelled, gold toilet cistern.
Sipping on a cup of their very own coffee blend is a treat in itself, and you won’t be sorry that you dragged your nearest and dearest to sample Florentines delights, whilst you sink into one of their heavenly couches. Breakfasts include toast with preserves, stewed fruit with nutty muesli and Greek yoghurt, eggs en cocotte and gluten-free muffins, whilst lunches vary from toasted sandwiches to Italian wedges, wraps and salads.
Tip: there are gorgeous gifts on offer here, make sure you ask to see samples of their wedding cakes, and take advantage of the sushi making classes.
Tokai Arboretum, Tokai forest
You don’t stop here for the food – although it isn’t bad, it’s very reasonably priced, and the scones are more than worthwhile – but rather for the sheer joy of lunching and sipping tea under a rich canopy of trees. Aside from the fact that this is a beautiful venue, the arboretum is a national monument, established in 1885, and the trees are practically ancient, which makes it a space in which to breathe and unwind.
Most people head out here for the hiking and mountain bike paths through the pine plantations of the Tokai forest, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this historic tree plantation is the creation of Joseph Storr Lister who planted 150 species of trees from temperate countries, including a great many oaks, California redwoods and eucalyptus. The pretty, thatched cafe is fairly close to the entrance. Don’t forget to leave a donation for the arboretum.
Tip: a great venue for children, but closed on Mondays.
Ashton’s @ Greenways, Constantia
Once you’ve overcome your self-consciousness at having perhaps entered someone’s private abode by mistake, Ashton’s is a surprisingly wonderful breakfast experience set in the heart of Constantia at Greenways Hotel. Greenways is a Herbert Baker look-alike that turns out to be Cape Revival style, modelled on Baker’s famous Muizenberg house called Rust en Vrede (hence the similarity).
Whilst you wouldn’t officially make the trip here just for tea, breakfast during summer allows one to sit out on a sunny verandah complete with views over immaculately maintained gardens, whilst watching the odd Egyptian goose come in to land – colonial decadence at its best! Breakfast consists of a buffet-style continental array of fruit salad, yoghurts, breads and other delectable dainties like croissants, whilst you can order a cooked breakfast too. You pay per head and for the experience it is well worth it.
Tip: make sure you find the time to wander through the gardens, they are pretty impressive and there is a huge vegetable and fruit garden towards the rear (the hotel has a green mission and has implemented an impressive list of sustainable practices that minimise their carbon footprint).
Millstone Café and farmstall, Pinelands
Set off the beaten track in one of the most beautiful settings possible in the inner city, Millstone is in the heart of the Oude Molen Eco Village on Alexandra Road in Pinelands. You get to unwind in a gorgeous garden setting infront of the little thatched roof café on a series of wooden crates and tables, whilst children let their imaginations run wild in the garden’s treehouse.
It’s real country-style relaxation and the food is wholesome, enjoyable, and includes freshly squeezed fruit juices and dishes made with as much organic produce as possible. Most of the fresh veg is supplied from the village gardens.
Tip: go prepared to spend time (and money) browsing the farmstall where you can pick up wood fired home-made bread home-made preserves and jams, honey and an array of healthy snacks.
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