Cosy Dining at The Charles Café, De Waterkant
De Waterkant’s quaint cobbled streets are home to a number of restaurants and informal spots but few are quite as cosy as The Charles Café, located on the corner of Waterkant and Dixon Streets.
Where to find The Charles Café
The restaurant is part of The Charles Café and Rooms (a boutique hotel); its position is prime for the area and the intersecting, busy little corner is perfect for people watching and come summer, the rooftop deck is where you’re going to want to be. Views across the city and shaded seating where you can relax and enjoy great food and wine.
The café is operated by Justine Burger and her partner Mark Wuger and the pair are always around ensuring that things are running smoothly. There is seating outdoors; during the day it is shaded by beautiful low hanging trees (always nice when you’re in the city centre) and by night, the trees come to life with twinkling fairy lights. There is also wonderfully intimate seating inside, complete with a fireplace for cooler nights.
Classic Café Style
Justine, having come from a background in restaurant management, has spent much time planning and crafting the menu and makes seasonal changes to keep things interesting. The menu is classically café-style, with a couple of dishes that give it a little signature Malay Quarter vibe.
To start, we decided to warm up with an oven baked camembert, studded with thyme and served with slices of crisp toast and a sweet preserve. The camembert was baked to oozy perfection and was just divine alongside a glass of Usana ‘The Fox’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
About that burger…
Justine is passionate about traceability and so ensures that only the best quality ingredients are used – this includes a free-range Farmer Angus beef patty that makes for one seriously good burger.
The juicy burger is served on a brioche bun with housemade mustard mayo, cheddar cheese and tomato relish. With it comes a side of the most lip-smackingly good sweet potato fries we’ve had. An all-around winner.
Being that it was a cold day and that we were in the Malay quarter, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have the Lamb Curry served with roti and sambals. The lamb was incredibly tender, obviously slowly braised in aromatics and full of classic Malay spices. An absolute treat scooped up with the flaky roti, with hints of sweetness from toasted coconut shavings and tomato sambal.
In keeping with the location, The Charles Café has a bi-weekly Malay night (Monday and Wednesday from 18h00-22h00) where you can sample this dish along with other Malay favourites such as potato samosas, tomato bredie, dhaltjies and bobotie.
If you have out of town guests this is a great idea for a night out to experience a little local flavour. Don’t forget to leave space for your boeber dessert, a Malay must-have!
Pass me a Croissant!
If you’re looking for a spot for breakfast, The Charles Café serves up a great menu, alongside Hout Bay coffee (the only place you’ll find it outside of Hout Bay) and from what we hear, an incredible almond croissant. They open at 07h00, so you can pop in and pick up something to go, or sit and enjoy the morning if time permits.
Doing it Right
The Charles Café is set apart from many other similar cafés by the attentive service, the commitment to using great ingredients and producing consistently great, wholesome food. In a city where service can often be disinterested and meagre at best, it makes for a welcome change.
We love Justine’s commitment to sourcing organic, free-range produce without making a big hoo-ha about it – she knows it just tastes better and makes for a better dining experience for her guests. And, at the end of the day, shouldn’t that be the point of any dining establishment?
Feeling Cape Malay inspired? We’ve got some amazing recipes for you to try at home.
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