Monday, October 10, 2011

Café Society at the Long Street Café

One lovely, sunny early Spring day, Eugene and I strolled along Long Street to the iconic Long Street Café. The brightly lit and unapologetically brash cafe sign winked boldly at us as we approached.   It blends so perfectly with this street that is a melting pot of all the cultures past and present that have inhabited it.  Life here hums and buzzes with alacrity.

Walking through the marvellous Art Deco wooden portals, one finds a mellow, laid back scene that belies the energy and pulse that drives the LSC.  We chose to sit inside as the pavement heat was too intense.   Immediately, a friendly face sprang forward to welcome us and show us to a table.  The menus are large laminated single sheets. We settled down to study them and to make a choice in a reasonable space of time.  We are great ditherers

There is a large bistro/diner ( I mean diner, not dinner) style menu with choices of lighter dishes for lunch and heartier options for bigger appetites or for dinner.  I love the exact descriptions of the salads and the sandwiches.  You can choose from  a selection of  burgers served with fries, coleslaw and onion rings, pastas, pizzas from the bright pink pizza oven or light meals that include deep fried calamari, fish cakes and nachos and 'mains' that are more fulsome.  A deli platter of tapas and a meat platter are available to munch on and enjoy with drinks before a meal, or maybe that will be your meal.  Breakfast is served from 9.30 am until noon and includes a full English breakfast, omelettes and muesli, again with detailed descriptions of all the ingredients.

Where to begin?  Eventually, Eugene chose the LSC burger and I settled for a Thai Chicken Wrap from the 'Mains' section.  Sadly, I cannot eat highly spiced food, so I discussed the possibility of a less spicy Thai sauce.  No problem!   We ordered soft drinks in spite of a wonderful selection of  beers, cocktails, liqueurs and much more.  The drinks menu is on the reverse of the menu.  There is a small but carefully chosen wine list and I was delighted to see that all the wines are also available by the glass.

While we waited for our food, Eugene gazed at the beautiful people and I went exploring.   The space is large, but not cavernous. It is an Art Deco tribute to the restaurant's long and distinguished past.  It is estimated that the building is about 100 years old and previously other benevolent spirits occupied it.   Cranfords Book Shop was once located here, but has since moved further down the street.  I love the Art Deco and Victorian graciousness that the decor presents.   One can choose to sit at one of the many round or square tables with highly polished wooden tops, bar stools at window ledges or in a comfortable upholstered chair in one of the cosy corner sections.   I spotted many people tapping away on their laptops and ipads.  Of course, there is free wifi in this establishment.   Wooden floors and a red and black colour scheme echoed by the waiting staff's outfits, complete the picture of a diner or deli cum bistro of days gone by.  Oh yes, standing proudly and defiantly on all the tables are bottles of tomato ketchup.   Again shades of another time and place.

There is a well-stocked bar with a long wooden counter where you might sit while waiting for a table.  Pillars with large wooden framed mirrors break the room into smaller sections. The lights and chandeliers are Tiffany styled and reflect a warm comforting glow.  One of my favourite bits of eccentricity is the upholstered red velvet throne, cheekily placed in one of the windows and affording a wonderful view of the goings on outside. And for that matter, a princely seat for outsiders looking in, to gawk at.   One can watch the kitchen staff beavering away in the open plan kitchen.  Everyone wears protective hair nets and the equipment is a picture of cleanliness and orderliness.  Large industrial extractors ensure that there is no smell of food preparation escaping into the restaurant area. 

The food arrived and we got stuck in with gusto.  The legend on the menu describes the Long Street Café Burger as 'homemade ground beef, lettuce, tomato and gherkin and mayo on a fresh bun'.  The beef patty was beautifully cooked, just on the right side of medium, as Eugene had requested.  It is a large patty on an even larger bun.  The chips, or fries as they are described on the menu, are the best I have ever tasted.  Lovely crisp coleslaw and onion rings made up a plate of delicious food.  My Thai Chicken Wrap was just lovely.  Not too spicy, as I had requested, and filled with chicken fillet slices and julienne vegetables.  I made short work of my portion of fries.  Normally I push chips to one side or give them to Eugene.  Not this time!   And that is where the tomato ketchup became the condiment of choice.

Long Street Café is open every day of the week from 9.30am till late.  There is a 'Happy Hour' everyday and on Tuesday, Happy Hour is all day.   A programme of events and specials for each day of the week is written on a blackboard.  It all looks like fun and that is what this place is all about.   Fun, good food and a happy untroubled interlude in a hassle-free environment.

Telephone:   021 424 2464
Address:      259 Long Street, Cape Town.

Eugene and I love eating out and we always pay for ourselves whenever and wherever we go.


Michael Olivier said...

Nice piece Leslie. I have always loved that building since I worked round the corner in 1971! I am sure that you and Eugene will remember the Waldorf Café too - Cy Sacks at the microphone singing to my grandmother who loved the milkshakes there! Luv Mx

Leslie Back said...

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your lovely comment. Eugene and I certainly do remember the 'Waldorf'. Wonderful memories of another iconic café.