The Market Deli, Salt River
Sun to Friday: group bookings only, min 15 pax
Legal Cafe: Saturday 09:00-13:00
Price Range (p/p)
Cheap | Under R100
Medium | R100 - R300
The Market Deli is now only open for walk-ins on Saturdays 9am – 3pm and only does pre-arranged functions of 15 people or more in the week. The Legal cafe operates on Saturdays from 9am – 1pm
Not in a million years would I have pegged Salt River Market as a go to place to locate a funky restaurant. Located behind the iconic Good Hope butchery, right on the busy Salt River circle, the market certainly has an abundance of history and old world charm. The area always drumming with traffic, both cars and people, noisy, crazy and busy is more known for the industry, the dodgy shops and prolific crime. However, the city’s initiative to uplift key areas known as Improvement Districts have seen positive changes here and in adjoining areas like Woodstock. The old Salt River Market is undergoing a facelift and it’s here that The Market Deli has decided to open up shop.
Z and I snuck out midweek for a quick lunch date. Having heard about the deli via the grapevine and not knowing too much about what to expect we were basically prepared for anything. And finding this little gem, incongruously tucked into the corner of ye olde Market, actually made my day. The deli is bright and airy inside. Not at all small as you’d expect a deli to be. Quite big enough to take a decent crowd. Funky bright red plastic chairs offset dark solid wood tables. The walls are adorned with shelves carrying ornaments and paintings depicting the history of Cape Town, Salt River and District Six. Old decorative tea tins you may have seen in your grandmothers house sit alongside copper pots and old steel milk cans. It’s a visual and historic feast and it feels like home.
When we got there they had just been cleaning the floor and the smell of detergent was a bit strong. But we were welcomed warmly by the host Amina Osman, and shown to a table. She proceeded to chat animatedly to us about the menu and what was on offer. I opted for the unusual, a Venison Burger, I had never had venison before and was being adventurous, and a chocolate milkshake. Z had the Beef Burger. The menu is not huge, 3 types of burgers, some wraps, salads and stir fries. They are still busy tweaking their menu. Considering they are open barely 3 weeks, a lot of it is work in progress for now.
Amina proceeded to tell us more about the Market Deli while we waited for our order. Owned by herself and 4 others, the restaurant helps them facilitate other initiatives they are passionate about. Right next door they have opened “The Legal Cafe”. Two of the owners are lawyers and together with other lawyers offer legal consultations at a very affordable rate here. So you can meet with a lawyer to just discuss an issue and pay a small fee, before breaking the bank to take matters further if at all necessary. They also run a Youth Leadership programme which has been going since 2009. The restaurant has already hosted a programme on Human Rights Day with students from various schools being addressed by leaders in the community. The deli also has a Single Mothers programme where they aim to help single mothers by stocking products made by them for sale in the deli.
Meanwhile, our burgers had arrived. I liked the presentation on craft wooden boards and unexpectedly, the burger came with all the trimmings, cheese, pineapple and egg. Luckily, I was fine with all of that but do say something if you’re not into any of that as the menu does not specify what is all on the burger. The venison, which is supplied by 2 of the partners who hunt and slaughter it halaal themselves, was a bit gamey but I enjoyed the flavour and did not mind the distinctive taste at all. Z, too was very happy with his burger. The chips I would have preferred crispier, but everyone likes their chips a different way. These were quite acceptable. My Nutella shake was good – thick and tasty – yes, my detox was “na die maan” (out the window).
It’s casual and family friendly. Prices are quite reasonable. Burgers start at R60, Wraps R60 and Stir Fry R85. Our meal totalled R180. The venue has ample parking. Downside is that they don’t have their own toilets yet. They do use the market toilet and have one designated only for their customers that is locked and kept clean by them. They are in the process of getting their own. Upside is that they have Salaah facilities on site with a Wudhu khanna.
I really like the social conscience behind this restaurant. I think that these are the types of initiatives suited to the whole idea of uplifting the area and it’s people and I think that Salt River Market will likely see more new and trendy spots opening alongside The Market Deli.