Breaking bread on Bree

Breaking bread on Bree

Cape Town’s hippest street is packed with more flavours than ever before. Here are Keith Bain’s top picks

Dapper Coffee Co.

Sharing space with vintage-car showroom Club 9, Dapper allows you get to ogle swoonworthy automobiles while tucking into beautifully prepared food. It’s an all-day breakfast-brunch-lunch kind of place with brilliant coffee and a menu that strays from the obvious. This means you can order your sourdough toast covered with stewed chickpeas and topped by poached eggs, or opt for the simplicity of chef Luke Wonnacott’s truly scrumptious burger. As you’d expect from a place centred on vehicular eye candy, its atmosphere is decidedly masculine – dark wooden floors and charcoal walls are offset by white tiles and marble accents – plus there’s the joy of witnessing sightseeing petrolheads wandering in with their jaws hanging open at the sheer elegance of the machines on show.
dappercoffeeco.co.za

Chefs Warehouse & Canteen

This isn’t a place for lingering or staring through candlelight into your lover’s eyes – it’s a place where you fall in love with Liam Tomlin’s exquisite food, applaud his genius, and make efforts to arrive early enough to score one of the available places. Every mealtime is different, so you simply get stuck in and enjoy each morsel – there are eight tapas items that arrive in three rounds, designed to be shared between two. Seating is limited and they don’t take bookings. If you don’t immediately make the cut, there’s a little bar underneath the restaurant where you can wait for your turn.
chefswarehouse.co.za

La Tête

The name, in case you’re wondering, means ‘The Head’, which you could take to refer to the fact that the heads of animals will be used in the kitchen. Or it could indicate the incredible amount of thought that’s gone into the menu, which veers far from the norm and delivers what any truly innovative restaurant should: a meal you wouldn’t ordinarily have at home. Chef Giles Edwards racked up a decade of hard-edge experience in London, where he learnt to prepare dizzyingly good crispy pig tails, how to grill an ox heart to perfection before adding mint and peas, and how to make the best fish sandwich imaginable.
latete.co.za

True Italic

Behind its red-wall exterior and hole-in-the-wall front door, lies an abundance of honest-to-goodness Italian food prepared with passion by an honest-to-goodness Italian named Luca di Pasquale. It’s all very down-to-earth: wooden benches at wooden tables, exposed brick walls littered with soccer shirts and artworks, and a chalkboard listing meals prepared from whatever’s fresh from the market. Arrive ready to tuck into fresh pasta with sauces made from handed-down recipes. There’s a wonderful sausage ragu, a squid-ink seafood sauce that’s tangy and flavourful, and sublime Italian cheeses that add character to everything. It feels like an underground discovery: a little rustic, very homely, and immensely tasty – without one iota of pretence.
trueitalic.co.za

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell

Among the string of side-by-side restaurants towards the mountain end of Bree, the blue exterior of this seafood-focused haven is unmistakable. It’s mostly blue inside, too, with white accents creating a Mediterranean atmosphere that’s precisely right for a leisurely dinner with freshly shucked oysters, flutes of South African bubbly, and delicious fish dishes that range from hake ceviche to a flaky fish pie with a creamy thyme-infused hake-and-angelfish filling. For all the availability of wild langoustines and seared tuna, there are also simple favourites such as hake and chips – done to perfection with a marvellous batter.
seabreezecapetown.co.za

Mink & Trout

Years ago, before Bree Street showed any signs of evolving into the hippest stretch of road in Cape Town, a Namibian woman with impeccable culinary nous established a country-style restaurant in this heritage building. It was called Birds and promoted concepts such as free-range produce and seasonal eating well before these became dining trends. Birds was sold to an industrious cheffing duo (who also bought the cafe’s famous chicken pie recipe) and who have retained the calm, poised ambience. Today, everything – whether it’s an unusual deconstructed mushroom risotto or bone-marrow-crusted fillet – is sensationally plated, designed to impress the eyes. Dishes are flavoursome and intriguing, and prowess in the kitchen is mirrored by warmth from the servers and pretty decor.
Facebook: Mink & Trout

Love Thy Neighbour

The indoor-outdoor space that was once &Union is now in the capable hands of Cypriot chef Nick Charalambous, who has brought with him a menu of authentic Mediterranean dishes and a focus on woodfired cooking. All the meat is free-range and free of hormones and antibiotics, which adds a dimension of wholesomeness to a convivial restaurant that’s focused on slow cooking. They do beautiful meze platters to share, sardines prepared with vine leaves and skordalia, and calamari done with harissa, aioli and za’atar. Nick’s souvlakia are sublime: he does one with pork neck served with a heavenly tahina sauce; another is made with lamb belly and accompanied by harissa yoghurt and mint. The wholesome food is accompanied by good music and that whole outdoor dining vibe.
Facebook: Love Thy Neighbour

Hank’s Olde Irish

You have to cut a line through Love Thy Neighbour’s outdoor area to reach this underground pub with a connoisseur’s focus on spirits. There is a fine selection of whiskies (distinguished Scotches, astonishing Japanese spirits and some single-pot-still potions from Ireland), along with a few whiskey-based cocktails. Wines have been carefully curated, and the owner’s time in Mexico means you can sink a few high-grade tequilas and specially imported mescals as well. It has the atmosphere of a well-kept secret, and you can complement your tipple with food from Love Thy Neighbour’s menu.
hanks.co.za

The Crazy Horse

This pub delivers what it promises: pub grub and loads of beer on tap. Served here are all those dishes that constitute ‘English cuisine’: ale pies with mash and gravy, beef Wellington, Yorkshire pudding, and gammon served with egg and pineapple on top. It’s the kind of food that goes well with flagons of beer – and there’s plenty of the stuff to quaff here, including the in-house Horse Piss Lager, which tastes nothing like its namesake, a gorgeous Black Cab Stout, and a madly drinkable BrewDog Punk IPA. The bar snacks are ballsy, too – there’s black pudding and delicious pork scratchings served with mustard-mayo.
thecrazyhorseza.com

Cabrón Taco Bar

Decorated in the Mexican idiom, with every colourful skull, cactus and Frida Kahlo image the owners could assemble, Cabrón does precisely what it says on the sign – serves tasty tacos: tuna, beef, pork and even a veg version. All you have to decide is whether it’ll be a hard or a soft shell. Okay, according to the concise wall menu, they also have burritos, nachos and a corn salad. But you’re here for the tacos. Tacos with a Corona. Tacos with tequila. Or tacos just to line your stomach as you settle in for a long sociable session over frozen margaritas.
Facebook: Cábron Taco Bar

Arcade

Don’t overlook the food at this Pop Art-styled bar – the names of their dishes are sufficiently offbeat to inspire curiosity. They’ve even named a burger after Kanye’s daughter, North West, which could either frighten or amuse you. The Pink Flamingo pizza comes with salmon, rocket, crème fraiche, pickled red onion, and an enviable fior di latte mozzarella that they put on virtually everything here. And there are salads with names such as Dandelion and Communion, for hungry punters on a strict supermodel diet.
arcadecafe.co.za

Raw and Roxy

This health-focused restaurant is a godsend for vegan and raw-foodies. Everything is plant-based,  grain-free, sugar-free and uncooked. The food is very deceptive – what you think is a small portion turns out to be so rich with flavour and nutrients that you soon feel satisfied and energised. There’s a divine baby-marrow-based, no-pasta lasagne layered with cashew cheese, pesto and tomato relish; and a heavenly pizza comprising a buckwheat-and-flaxseed base topped with dollops of nut cheese and avocado. Besides a range of nutritious health drinks, there’s an energising coffee replacement known as ‘rocket fuel’, and it’s worth making a separate trip just to sample the Magnum-style ice creams coated with raw chocolate.
Facebook: Raw and Roxy

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