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A tale of two cities

From Camps Bay to Church Square. For us, there is no going back, the sun has gone down on Camps Bay, that old favourite sunset spot.

In future, we will be having our cocktails closer to home, #downtown, where we are treated like we are doing the hosts a favour (not the other way around), where the food is interesting and delicious, and the bill does not necessarily give you a nose bleed (although sometimes it might …).   

We have watched so many sensational sunsets from various over-priced and underwhelming spots on the strip at Camps Bay. It has been so much fun and many memories have been made in this little piece of heaven #NoFilterRequired.

Sunsets and palm trees aside, there is eye-candy aplenty as the airbrushed people with spray-on tans, coiffured pooches and shiny red cabriolets smile widely and laugh loudly.

Maybe they don’t know better; more likely they are hiding their horror at the ghastly food, the warm cocktails and the eye-watering prices because … well .. it is Camps Bay, dahling, we are all just so lucky to get a perch here.

But man (and woman … especially) cannot live on eye-candy alone. It is time to move on. Breakfast today was Café Caprice’s final ‘last chance’.

I wish the experience had been amusing because then I could say “It was an awful comedy of errors”, I could say some quite funny (and very bitchy) things, and we could all have a laugh and quickly forget about it. But nothing about this experience was clever enough to be amusing, especially as we had chosen to spend our money there at the expense of so many other places that are hanging by a thread right now.

Iced coffee that doesn’t taste at all like coffee is one thing … but a flat white that tastes like instant coffee? We ordered an extra shot of espresso to make the flat white more like coffee; we sent the iced coffee back because it seemed too far off the mark to rescue.

The fresh juice that was ordered in exchange was quite tasty but it was warm, or at least not cold! We asked for some ice to solve that problem and couldn’t help but wonder why we were assembling our own beverages, which we can do perfectly well at home on the butler’s occasional day off (besides the coffee is much better at home).

We ordered a ‘beach breakfast’ (your standard fry-up, but with a cheap copy of boerewors, which goes as ‘beef sausage’ in Camps Bay, in the place of something proper) and an omelette. The fry-up was on the ‘didn’t quite make it’ side of ordinary and the omelette was rubbery.

We were both asked what sort of toast we would like with our breakfasts, and made our choice from the list in the menu: sourdough for one; ciabatta for the other. When one plate with twin slices of toast arrived, ciabatta lady said: “I asked for ciabatta, not sourdough”.

To which the waitress replied, “That is ciabatta.”

“Oh,” said sourdough lady, “I wanted sourdough.”

“That is the sourdough,” she said.

“Huh?”

The ‘beach breakfast’

“That is the white bread we are serving today.” (She might as well have said ‘duh!’; it was clear from her tone that we were being quite thick thinking that sourdough and ciabatta were different things.

You have to wonder why they listed them separately on the menu with a comma between the words. Call me old fashioned but this grammatical arrangement suggests a list of separate things, each one of them different and independent from the last …

Anyhoo the breakfast and the beverages roundly disappointed and it feels like the view and the setting, as spectacular as they are, are just not enough anymore.

Not to worry, though, us two crazies in our purple hats are not putting anyone out of business. Café Caprice will still pull in the crowds because of its prime position on the strip in Camps Bay. You are lucky to be here, the vibe screams, even if the food is shitty and overpriced, and the bathrooms are grimy.

There is always Kauai along the road if you can cope with all those cyclists (too much sweat and testosterone for some of us). I wish The 41 opened for breakfast … now there is a lovely spot with great food, fair prices and oodles of style.

Breakfast is always a tricky one, especially if you want a great setting and good food, especially now that Deer Park Café has closed for sit-down service (deliveries available though). But the good news [insert drumroll here please] is that there is a fabulous new quarter in the heart of Cape Town waiting to be discovered and not yet overrun, where restaurants are all about taste, flavour, sustenance, texture, you know that sort of foodie stuff. Give me the pigeons and the pavements of Church Square any day.

A string of restaurants around this square in town is where fine food meets fabulous hospitality, cutting edge creativity combines with a tradition of being gracious to your guests.

When Fyn opened just off Church Square we were a little surprised, but pleased because it is just down the road from home. A little walk down hill and a cab home (or, Lord have mercy, on to some filthy bar because after 3 or more glasses of wine we have been known to lose our sh*t).

Scroll through the slideshow above to get a taste of one sensational dinner at Fyn …

Our dinner at Fyn was absolutely out of this world, sensational food in a dramatic and beautiful space. There was a concentrated fabulousness to the food and service that is so rare. Course after course delighted and surprised us.

The wine pairing is more than a little pricey but totally worth it. The combinations are interesting and delightful and, like everything else at Fyn, creative and bold, yet fantastically harmonious.

Then Sepial opened Alium almost next door and this little inner-city neighbourhood was on the runway to stardom.

On our first night at Alium we spotted the Labotessa boutique hotel next door. In a quiet little corner of Cape Town, Labotessa is an oasis of old-fashioned glamour, the perfect place for a sleepover after a dinner at Fyn. A slam-dunk, I am guessing, if, say, you are trying to close the deal of a lifetime … perhaps even with the love of your life.

So irresistible was it that we went back the very next morning for bubbly and absolutely perfect Eggs Benedict.

A few weeks later, a breakfast at Pilcrow & Cleaver confirmed Church Square’s status as the up-and-coming new centre of Cape Town cool. Breakfast was delicious, with the food described and the order taken by Chef Nomkita herself.

Sourdough and bacon with donations from the fry-up

The full breakfast was generous and tasty, with no corners cut or substitutes made. The mushrooms were so deliciously more-ish they deserve a special mention. In fact, we wondered what they were/how they had been prepared … and then we remembered that they had been cooked with care by someone who loves food.

The menu is interesting and expansive, but the staff didn’t mind at all that one of us wanted just sourdough toast and bacon.

Church Square will surely soon be the Mother City’s capital of cool. The airbrushed people will be along soon enough and they will call it The Piazza at Church Square, mark my words.

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