Claremont’s best kept secret – Starlings Café

Tucked away behind a hedge, at number 94, on busy and bustling Belvedere road, lies the cosiest little café – Starlings. This hidden gem is not easily stumbled upon so having inside knowledge is key to its existence. Known only by locals, Starlings really is Claremont’s best kept secret. All that being said, one would think that it wouldn’t be so busy – but it is always crammed with lovely food loving, tea drinking people. Tables are scattered throughout this beautifully restored Victorian cottage, and in warmer months patrons spill out onto a beautiful courtyard outside.

Courtyard

Courtyard

The first time I was fortunate enough to dine at Starlings Café was for my darling friend Cesca’s 21st birthday brunch. I walked in late (this getting lost thing is becoming a habit) to find a bunch of mostly unfamiliar faces gathered around a large table, with a few other people I know all there to celebrate the 21 years of Ces’s life. A life might I add, filled with many inappropriate comments and embarrassing moments, yet we love her still. I ordered poached eggs with basil pesto and parmesan cheese, served with homemade whole-wheat toast – absolutely scrumptious! This place won my heart over the instant I walked through the door and I couldn’t wait for an excuse to come back again!

Delicious Brekkie

Delicious Brekkie

So naturally that’s exactly what I did. This past weekend, finally on holiday and able to venture beyond my work desk, I sought out human interaction in the form of my friends – Tayla and Cesca. Seeing as they are geniuses (Genii?) and study at UCT medical campus, I rarely see them, and thus regular catch-up sessions are a must! We met at Starlings for “tea” but, once you look at the menu it never is just tea. Although the menu is small – it really isn’t easy to choose what to have, it all just sounds so good! So for breakfast I had French toasted brioche with bacon (like 6 rashers – heavenly!), mushrooms and cheese (I added these). I would have shared a picture with you but I wolfed it down so quickly it was just too yummy to wait! I had tea, for many reasons: 1. I love tea. 2. They serve it in awesome teapots. 3. It’s made with loose leaves.

Awesome tea pot

Awesome tea pot

After breakfast we just had to have cake because else what would I blog about? Oh and also because I walked past a table of delicious treats on the way in and I just had to try the chocolate chiffon cake. Luckily my friends eat as much as I do and they joined me on this little pig out. Tay went halvies with me and Ces ordered apple and almond slice. We polished off those heavenly treats and then just about rolled ourselves out the door!

Chocolate chiffon cake & apple and almond slice

Chocolate chiffon cake & apple and almond slice

I definitely think Starlings Café is a real gem and is deservedly popular for its delicious meals, whatever time of day. You never feel rushed and after a couple of hours you start to feel like part of the furniture.

For more details on Starlings Café:

Call: 021 671 6875

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/StarlingsCafe

Email: starlingscafe@gmail.com

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Life is like a cup of tea, it’s all in how you make it.

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A Classy Affair – Casa Labia

Many a time, people have driven down Main road towards Kalk Bay, distracted by the beautiful view of Muizenberg beach, and have let one of the most idyllic cafés I have ever visited, pass them by. Casa Labia was built in 1929, to be home to the Count and Countess Natale Labia. However, over the years the house was neglected and passed ownership many times, until 2008, when Count Luccio Labia (son of Count Natale Labia) regained ownership of the property. The house was lovingly restored to its former glory and opened as a multi-functional cultural centre and up-market venue just 2 years later. The house, in its design and décor, encapsulates the spirit and extravagance of 18th century Venice. It is timelessly elegant – a quality that comes only from its rich cultural history and authenticity. The interior is stunningly adorned with genuine Venetian antiques–from the priceless paintings to the lavishly tiled ceiling panels and chandeliers – which were shipped to South Africa over a century ago. Situated in the former reception area of the house, the Casa Labia café exudes an inviting atmosphere of warmth and charm that is virtually unrivalled. In the summer months, tables are extended out onto a charming Italian-style courtyard and immaculately kept garden.

Top: View of Muizenberg  Bottom left: ceiling mural Bottom right: ceiling panels

Top: View of Muizenberg beach
Bottom left: Ceiling mural
Bottom right: Ceiling panels

I first visited Casa Labia only recently, under the ruse of a “business meeting” with my boss and fellow colleagues, although it really was just a good excuse to go for tea with the girls. I picked up one of my besties, Tay, on the way and together we headed off into the relatively unknown. Although Casa Labia is on Main road, it would seem really hard to miss, but as you can probably guess I am not the best with finding places – even armed with fancy GPSs. So we were casually cruising down Main road and Brad (my GPS) announces that we have arrived at our destination. We completely drove past it. After a very skilful U-turn, (if you live or have ever visited Muizenberg/ St James you will understand) we found our way back and managed to find a parking just a little way down the road. We were late. Naturally. Once inside we were escorted to an extravagant lounge area where the rest of our party was waiting.

The lounge area

The lounge area

We were then shown to our table in the front of the house, overlooking Muizenberg beach, and the four of us got down to the tough decision of what to order.  In the picture below, from the top left going in a clockwise direction – I ordered caramelised banana pancakes with seasonal berries and Crème fraîche; Tayla ordered Italian chocolate cake; Tee (my boss) ordered a chocolate brownie with NICE homemade ice-cream and lastly, Bernice ordered espresso and walnut cake. Sounds absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious right? YES. I quickly wolfed down my pancakes – they were too good to share! – and then helped Tay finish off her decadent chocolate cake. Needless to say, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to bring my Mom here for afternoon tea.

Delicious sweet treats

Delicious sweet treats

So this past weekend, my darling mother and I visited once again at the Casa Labia. And as my mom so aptly puts it “they go that little bit extra here”. When placing an order at the café – whatever you anticipate your food to taste like, it will be a thousand times better. Nothing is ordinary. Everything is exceptional. On this fine Saturday afternoon, enjoying our tea, we were treated to a live pianist playing softly in the background. Wow! Couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day!

Treat yourself and your nearest & dearest to a lovely meal at Casa Labia!

Girl's tea date

Girl’s tea date

For more details on Casa Labia:

Website: http://casalabia.co.za/

Twitter: @CasaLabia

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/casalabia

Call (booking essential): 021 788 6062

Email: cafe@casalabia.co.za

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There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Celebrating All Things Pink! – Pink Coffee Boutique

pink-4

In the residential area of Kenilworth, lies a hidden gem – Pink Coffee Boutique, situated at 46 Goldbourne Road, the perfect tea date is waiting to happen.  Although the house may seem quaint from outside, a creative packaging company operates out of the front room (almost a reason to visit in itself!), and the coffee shop takes up the remaining space inside and spills outside onto a covered patio adorned with pink bunting. Thus patrons are able to pick up some great gifts and unique home décor items after they have enjoyed their tea. At Pink! everything is done a little old-school, from the décor – vintage, shabby chic,  to the cubed sugar, and milkshakes served in glass bottles. The menu is short and sweet and the specials and tea time snacks are listed on many blackboards scattered around the coffee shop. The sweet treats (my fave!), are invitingly displayed on tables both inside and outside, and house a selection of delicious cakes, brownies, tarts, and muffins. The atmosphere is very laid back and one really does feel at home once seated in the over-stuffed couch on the patio, listening to the relaxing music selection, sipping on a lovely cup of tea.

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The shop celebrates everything that is pink with quotes such as “Pink is more than a colour, it’s an attitude” and the famous quote by Audrey Hepburn “I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles” displayed amongst the many other cute quotes on the walls.

Pink-1

The first time I went to Pink! was in 2012 when I was invited to my friend Katie’s 20th birthday tea. After much Google mapping and GPS-ing I finally made it! Pouring with rain, in true Cape Town style, and unable to find a parking, I ran up the stairs, in search of a warm cuppa (of anything really – desperate times!). Outside (thank goodness for the covered patio!), my friends were already gathered around a large table snacking on fruit kebabs, sandwiches and mini Lindt cakes covered in pink (obviously) glitter. Time to order drinks arrived and I was thinking – a coffee boutique, almost a sin to order tea, so I settled for good old hot chocolate instead – delicious! Needless to say, I soon learnt through my many subsequent visits, that everything at Pink! is delicious. Their tea, served the way it should be – in a transparent glass teapot with a sieve alongside, infusing while you chat. Many think that they have found the best lemon meringue – I am afraid they are horribly wrong. Pink! has undoubtedly the BEST lemon meringue I have ever had the pleasure of devouring, definitely worth the extra calories, and the 20 minute drive down taxi-infested Main Road. Lunch is another treat all together – with salads, wraps, sandwiches and burgers that are too tasty to possibly be considered healthy.

Katie, Tayla & I at Katie's birthday tea

Katie, Tayla & I at Katie’s birthday tea

Definitely a must see for tea-lovers and coffee-lovers alike. Pink! really is a special place.

For more details about Pink Coffee Boutique:

Call: 021 762 5510

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pink.coffee1

Email: sandra@faxpack.co.za

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“Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” -Peter Pan

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It’s all in the detail – High Tea

High Tea is a cosy little café located in the tranquil gardens of the Farriers Centre, just off Constantia road in Wynberg. The centre boasts a number of speciality stores, perfect for a leisurely afternoon browse. There is ample parking space, but never fear, if it is a beautiful sunny summer day, one can always park on the grass verge across the road.

High Tea offers a delectable selection of mini cakes and tarts, amongst other goodly things including breakfast, lunch, tea & coffee. The shop has a very relaxed atmosphere and the décor has a very rustic charm: meals are served with albeit fancy, completely mismatching cutlery, crockery and serviettes. This little coffee shop really has thought of all the small details, from the rainbow crystal sugar to the perfect music selection. One wall of the shop is lined with shelves laden with interesting snacks and gifts including speciality teas, spiced nuts, caramel popcorn (DELICIOUS – literally can’t leave without a bag), hand-made tea-cosies, and biscuits amongst other things. The menu reflects the restaurant owners’ mantra, simple and straightforward, with very few options available and only slight variations with changes in season. In addition to the restaurant, High Tea creates exquisite cakes (both in appearance and in taste) for order for weddings, birthdays or any other celebrations. My Mom has already picked out my wedding cake from High Tea, even though I am 20 and marriage is not even a wild possibility in the near future.

For one day in the future :) stunning isn't it?

For one day in the future 🙂 stunning isn’t it?

I was introduced to High Tea by our estate agent, Mary Bailey, in 2009, when my family and I were down for three days to do house hunting (don’t know if it was desperation or efficiency?). Since moving to Cape Town, just over four years ago, I have been there many a time and have shared this delightful spot with many friends and family. With such an amazing spread of cakes, it is really hard to have a favourite, but dozens of tea dates, hundreds of Rands, and thousands of calories later; I have definitely found mine – the SERIOUSLY chocolate cake, followed closely by the lemon meringue.

My SERIOUSLY chocolate cake

My SERIOUSLY chocolate cake

On each of my countless visits to High Tea, I have always been impressed with the service I have received. On one occasion, I was enjoying an almost weekly mother-daughter date, when my mother saw a heart –shaped coat hook on the wall that she just HAD to have. The owners, much to our surprise, kindly obliged and unscrewed the hook from the wall, and let my mom purchase it.

I highly recommend, that if you are a sweet tooth like me, that you make your way to High Tea ASAP – you will not be disappointed, nor leave empty handed.

Me and my Mumsicle <3

Me and my Mumsicle ❤

For more details about High Tea:

Website: http://hightea.co.za/

Call: Cakes 083 7640 760 and Restaurant 021 7971 421

Email: cakes@hightea.co.za (Irma) or restaurant@hightea.co.za (Kerneels)

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“If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you” – William Gladstone

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