Dog walking, lentil-munching Capetonians can stop wearing black: Deer Park Café will be back. Yummy Mummys from Higgovale, Tamboerskloof’s hipster dads and unbelievably stylish dykes from Oranjezicht can stop panicking. The café on the slopes of Table Mountain so beloved of the cool and the quirky will reopen in January 2022 when Signatura’s redevelopment of Deer Park Place is complete.
Other good news is that in the meantime you can order their delicious food as a weekly delivery. Join the Tiffin Club and choose the yummiest of meals from the menu that changes every week and have it delivered to you at home in tiffin tins. No mess, no waste no fuss.
The rumour mill had it that Deer Park Café had been closed down forever, figuratively mown down by those enemies of the nostalgic, the folksy and the old skool crafty: developers and their bulldozers.
Sigh, said Belinda, a 50-year old veteran of the Vegan Wars. “That’s gentrification for you. Where will we go for tasty food and delicious eye-candy.”
[Cue giggling from Yummy Mummy Chloe]
‘Deer Park Café: It is The End’ is what people have been saying on social media. But it is not true.
“That’s social media for you, never let the facts get in the way of a good story,” said Bryan, bun-sporting hipster (who secretly likes a round of golf and the odd lap-dance).
“Maybe we should have known this treasure of a place would somehow survive, they made it through lockdown after all,” said the very earnest Emma, brand manager and single Mum.
To survive at a time when no eat-in service was allowed, DPC was reinvented as a deli and delivery service. They delivered ready-cooked meals, dips, pasta sauces, curry pastes and a selection of “carefully sourced” meats, cheese, breads and pantry basics to a small group of dedicated customers.
The Café reopened in September when lockdown was eased, but closed again at the end January 2021 to make way for the redevelopment of Deer Park Place. Call Off The Search has now been reliably informed that DPC will be returning to its old spot next year when the development has been completed.
More good news is that DPC’s super delicious and nutritious food continues to be available as a weekly delivery to your home. Not only is it convenient, delicious, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, it gives us adoring DPC fans the opportunity to support the amazing crew from the café and actually be part of their success-cum-survival story.
We at Call Off The Search are very keen to be part of the success story that started in 2004 when Carin and Roger opened the café with the intention of providing delicious, nourishing meals made from scratch with quality ingredients sourced locally from ethical suppliers.
They succeeded in turning DPC into one of those rare places where everybody felt at home. You could pop in with the dogs (water served) after a walk in the park on Saturday morning for knockout eggs benedict, meet your gang there for pizza and beer after work, or bring guests from out-of-town for the vegan buffet to show them how incredibly charming and cutting edge suburban life in Cape Town can be.
Unusually for Cape Town, the diners were the relaxed ones, thanks to attentive, efficient and unfussy service. The food was always exceptional, simple food elevated to hearty deliciousness without any fuss. I remember a butternut soup I had there more than 10 years (and many, may butternut soups) ago.
Carin, the powerhouse in Deer Park Cafe’s kitchen, trained in macrobiotic cooking in New York before returning to Cape Town and running the vegetarian kitchen at Fields, then the city’s iconic health shop, and establishing its reputation for the best vegetarian fare in the Mother City.
Later, after taking a break to start a family, Carin opened DPC with the other half, Roger. They renovated the restaurant, putting in the gorgeous floor to ceiling windows and doors, which allowed parents to keep an eye on their offspring on the swings and gave everyone else a 360-degree view of life’s other buffet. Always nice to see what/who is on offer in the hood.
After chef Ashton joined, wonderful fragrant Indian dishes began to feature alongside DPC classics. Ashton is a master of the unique blend of Indian and Portuguese influences typical to the Indian state of Goa, where he was raised.
Taught to cook by his Mum and Grandma, first he mastered the unique cuisine of this tropical Indian state before training professionally at IHM. Then he worked in 5-star hotels, travelling the subcontinent, sampling recipes from Shimla to Kolkata and Kerala to Tamil Nadu.
This constellation of stars includes Anel who, Carin says, “has really been at the forefront of sustaining Deer Park”. It was thanks to Anel, who has been working at Deer Park Café since 2008, that Carin was able to take some time out and travel to India, where she met Ashton’s mom.
Anel handles all the back-of-house issues and, in the words of Carin, “DPC could not have done it without her”. She does everything – from dealing with clients with unusual/difficult requests to helping members of staff find schools for their children – and even finds time to bake the most delicious cakes for children (the kind that mums and dads want to eat too).
Until Deer Park Cafe reopens on the park in 2022, Carin and Ashton will continue to cook from Carin’s home. The menu, which includes Deer Park Classics, a selection of vegetarian dishes and sensational Indian meals, changes weekly. The menu comes out on Fridays, orders are placed via Shopify before lunchtime on Tuesday and your food is delivered on Thursdays between 11am and 2pm.
Meals for one or two are delivered in the practical and charming tiffin tins, reusable stainless steel sets. All soups and sauces come in glass jars to be returned with your tiffin the following week, meaning there is no waste at all. A R200 deposit for a tiffin buys you into the club.
On Thursdays we are always very excited to meet Tinashe/AN Other at the gate and pass him last week’s depleted tiffin and collect a new one, loaded with promise.
For more information or to browse the weekly changing menu visit www.deerparkdeli.co.za. The culinary wizards of DPC also offer catering for groups large and small.