There is a certain allure about a going inside a place that you think will barely take 3 tables and then discovering a whole other world inside. That’s what is was like for me visiting Batavia Cafe. My friend and I had decided to come for breakfast and enjoy a long overdue catch-up. The unmissable blue building, paints a striking picture, even in the colourful Bo Kaap cityscape. And the surrounding cobbled streets and Cape Town views are a photographer’s dream.
Before going inside, I was delighted to see several tables, a cushioned park bench and a sort of love seat in 2 places outside the restaurant. On going inside, the small entrance across the counter has a large trestle table and benches beaming in the sun from the large windows. One step up the wooden floors leads you into what feels like a living room and is the main section of the restaurant where there are several smaller tables for 2 or 3 people and several larger tables for bigger groups. Also quaint little hidey holes with armchairs and a side table if all you’re wanting is a coffee and to read your paper, or smart phone for that matter. It is the 21st century after all.
We sat down and started looking at the menu before we noticed a door leading to what I hoped was a patio area. I decided to explore and passed another little nook with 2 tables before going through the door and discovering what was indeed a kind of enclosed patio with some small tables and a colouful bench topped with pillows. Lots of plants gave this area a very outdoorsy feel even though it was not really open to the outdoors. The inside walls are adorned with lots of interesting artwork, some for sale. And there are also local clothes and ceramics tastefully showcased for sale. The co-owner, Zayaan Rasdien is responsible for the interior design of this restaurant, and has brought together a visual feast for the eye, and all this even before I’ve placed my order.
The young Spanish manager who later revealed that he was the other owner’s brother chatted with us while he took our order and made suggestions. Our waitress who later served us was sweet and pleasant as well. The menu has a nice breakfast selection along with sandwiches, craft burgers, light meals and some sweet stuff. There is some Spanish and French influence in the food and a touch of Cape Malay tossed in as well.
We opted for the Beef burger with mushroom sauce which comes with chips and a roast chicken open sandwich with roquefort sauce. My hand made beef burger was tasty but a bit too rare. I like my meat deader than dead, and can handle a tiny bit of pink but had to send this back to cook further. The plan was to share the two meals so we would both get a taste of everything. Now normally I like different cheeses, everything except blue cheese. But I also like to give everything a second chance once in a while. So every now and then I try something I’m not wild about to see if my palate can handle it this time. Such was the case with the Roquefort sandwich. My experiment failed, the sauce was too sharp for me and the sandwich was just not going down. My friend however enjoyed it on her own. I do this experiment about once every two years with a Mcdonald’s burger and about 2 bites in, wonder why I keep torturing myself… My meal was accompanied by a mint lemonade which was delicious and refreshing. We rounded off with a lemon tart which seems to be a popular standard dish, an excellent flat white and an English Breakfast Tea. I found the lemon tart yummy but a bit too “tart”, and was glad I was sharing it.
Prices are not bad. The sandwich at R50 and burger at R75 and the rest of our meal was R250 for 2 people.We could have easily eaten for under R100 each but we had dessert as well. Batavia Cafe is located just around the corner from the Hilton hotel. The location is coveted and parking is a prize commodity. It’s a great place to stop for a quick lunch or linger over brunch on a Sunday morning. Yes, they’re open till 2pm on Sundays too. But be prepared to hunt for parking or if you live or work in the Cape Town area, take a walk and work up an appetite. It’s worth it.
Breakfast, Buffet, Casual Dining, Dinner, Lunch,
Cheap | Under R100, Medium | R100 - R300,