Woodstock can be a difficult place to love but it never fails to deliver cool and interesting new hidey holes to discover. This Monday morning started on a great note when driving down Albert street, I spotted a chalkboard sign and I caught the words Cinta Food Market. I managed to catch a glimpse inside the gates and it was enough to whet my appetite to make an illegal U-turn, (Z would have my head), and make my way back to check it out.
Cinta, pronounced “Chinta”, is a Malay word meaning love which encompasses the ethos about this market. It is small for a market, a home which has literally been gutted and transformed into a space for a handful of vendors to showcase their culinary talents. Walking through the gates, you enter a space which was once a front stoep now home to a handful of tables with umbrellas for shade. The furniture is rustic and seems handmade, and the enclosed space has a homely and intimate feel despite the bustling Woodstock traffic just meters away. The venue is quite typical of the new revamped feel of Woodstock. On trend eateries rubbing shoulders with old crumbling buildings and restored industrial spaces. All part of the Cape Improvement District.
I chatted with the owner of the market, Zaki Harris, son of the well known Zainie Misbach who is known for her cooking tours and was also a food consultant on Masterchef SA. Zaki comes from a heritage of foodies, his grandparents having started the original Biesmillah Restaurant and subsequent Noon Gun Restaurant. After travelling and spending time working in the UK and Malaysia he came back to Cape Town and started Cinta as a Malay restaurant and soon after redesigned it into a food market. The halaal offering being a great option to people who would come to the Biscuit Mill but which does not have enough halaal food options. It’s diagonally opposite the Biscuit Mill. From the outside tables you literally have a view of Bromwell Mews which houses the famous Neighbourgoods market. He has carefully selected the vendors with a view to having a true passion for food and people. He wants Cinta food market to be a place where cultures and family come together and the appreciation of food and life is not marred by commercialism. He aims to support local businesses, buying from local butchers and grocers. His vendors, while not all Muslim are required to only buy their meats from Good Hope Butchery. He aims to create a sustainable community that prospers and grows as they grow.
The options at the market include Simms Mexican fusion with a range of Burritos, Quesidillas and other mexican inspired dishes. My Thai, which offers you guessed it, Thai food. The Cape Malay Kitchen is backed the recipes of Zainie Misbach and there is a coffee spot called Habb, which serves only Truth coffee. Another vendor is in the pipeline but has yet to be finalised.
My choice was the grilled chicken quesidillas from Simms and a Rooibos Ice, which is a Red espresso with blended ice and honey, no milk, which did not interfere with my no dairy detox. The quesidillas were tasty, the pepperdews and dressing added a zing of heat which the chilled and frothy ice tea was perfect for. What I loved was that Simms popped over and did not merely check if everything was ok, but asked if I liked the dish and how he could improve it. This is Simms.
Prices are reasonable and service is friendly. I did spot a small dog in the shop and I’m not sure if it was a customer’s or not but wasn’t too crazy about that. Sorry, I’m not a dog person, especially not in restaurant. Parking in Woodstock is always a pain. I parked at the Biscuit Mill and walked across.
The seating at first looks spare. There is a some seating inside but most of it is outside. I spotted a back door and realised that there was more seating at the back. The back section and around the side where once may have been a driveway has been converted into a pretty area with potted flowers and more tables. The only downside is that come winter this will limit the seating capacity. I hope by then Zaki will have figured something out for that.
Well done again Woodstock. My love hate relationship with you currently sits on love.
Breakfast, Casual Dining, Lunch,
Cheap | Under R100, Medium | R100 - R300,