Most people in Cape Town will remember the Boer & Brit Pub. I certainly spent many happy evenings at this historic pub at the Alphen Hotel in Constantia. When I was told that it was due to close down I was astounded. Now where I was I supposed to go for a glass of red wine next to a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night or for a cold beer on a warm summer’s evening under the trees on the terrace? If you are feeling the same, fear not. The pub may no longer be with us, but something rather delightful and delicious is in its place.
We arrived at La Belle Cafe & Bakery on a fresh autumn afternoon and had no sooner got settled at our table when my friend spied the cakes inside. In a flash she was gone, leaving me to decide on our drinks, and when she returned she was beaming from ear to ear. “I think we should skip mains and just order five different desserts!” she gushed, “It’s just like a Parisien bakery in there! Go have a look!”
Her enthusiasm was so infectious I think I saw about five people leave their tables at the same time to go have a look at the Parisien-style bakery, now taking pride of place where the pub used to be. I doubt they were disappointed. I certainly wasn’t (and I am not really one for cakes). A giant glass display cabinet was filled to the brim with all sorts of decadant and beautifully crafted goodies. There were brightly coloured Macaroons, Melktarts (Melktartlets actually), pecan pies, blocks of individually iced carrot cakes and exquisitely decorated summer fruit tarts that would make even the most anti-fruit person want to eat them. There were beautiful cakes too, but apparently those need to be ordered beforehand if you are having a celebration of sorts. They look so good I think you should just have a cake celebration and order one to take home anyway. All their cakes and tarts are baked on the day and when they run out, they run out. So if you have a sweet tooth like my friend, I suggest you get in there early!
After all the excitement over cakes and tarts, we settled down to peruse the menu. Now we were in another quandry. It all sounded so good that we couldn’t make up our minds. Of course not having much breakfast that day didn’t help as our tummies just screamed “Food! Give it all to me!” Our friendly waiter must have returned to our table at least three times before we eventually made up our minds. Whilst our order was being prepared we went back to discussing what we were going to have for dessert and how many tarts we could take home and feasibly eat over a day or two.
My braised lamb pie with sweet potato, tomato, cinnamon and cumin arrived with the pie in a pot and the salad to one side. It was served on a board so one could take out bits of lamb and add them to the salad on your fork before putting the tasty combination into your salivating mouth. The lamb “pot pie” had a slight curry flavour which I wasn’t expecting, but I was not complaining. However I do have one complaint – slices of bread should be served on the side so you can mop up all the rich gravy that sadly gets left behind in the pot! My friend had the mustard and herb roast chicken with olive oil mash and green beans. The meat just fell off the bones and the mash was smooth and creamy. She finished it all, despite mumbling about leaving room for dessert! In fact being the gluttons we can be, we had also requested a side order of shoestring fries, which I then used to attempt to mop up my lamb pie gravy.
Quite frankly we could have gone home at this point. Our tummies were full and our eyes were drooping. But it was such a lovely afternoon and the tarts were beckoning. Who could resist? I have a love for granadillas so I opted for the passion fruit tart whilst my friend went for the raspberry and white chocolate tart. She was right … we could’ve skipped the mains (although delicious) and had five desserts. There are no words and I haven’t the inclination to look for a Thesaurus. I couldn’t finish mine without physically exploding so took it home for later as there was no way I was leaving that little piece of heaven behind. My friend did the same and also bought some extra macaroons on the way out. Enough said.
La Bell Cafe & Bakery
Daily from 07h00 to 22h00.
Expect to pay:
Breakfasts from R35, sandwiches from R60, light meals from R60 (although these are still quite ample portions), main meals from R80, desserts from R10.
A sampling of what you’ll find on the menu:
- Croissant with cheese and preserve (R35)
- Full English breakfast (R70)
- Eggs Benedict (R70)
- Champagne breakfast with poached eggs and smoked salmon (R250)
- Spring pea and plum salad (R70)
- Smoked salmon salad (R90)
- Chicken and brie sandwich (R65)
- Prosciutto sandwich (R80)
- Braised lamb pie (R90)
- Chickpea burger (R70)
- Meatballs & taglietelle (R85)
- Passion fruit tart (R30)
- Macaroons (R10 each)
All kinds of drinks are available, from tea and coffee to raw juices and smoothies, to cocktails, wine and beers.
What else can you get?
The restaurant also features a deli section where you can buy local and homemade treats including charcuterie, cheeses, confectionaries, condiments and preserves.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome too. Water bowls are provided.
Need to know:
If you were a Boer n’ Brit patron now feeling a little disgruntled that your favourite watering hole is no longer, pay La Belle a visit anyway. You will not be forced to eat cakes and tartlets (although you may be tempted) or to have a meal. You are most welcome to simply pop in for a pint or a glass of wine. But here’s betting you go home with a bag of Macaroons…