Tasty tapas at La Parada on Cape Town’s Bree Street

Today we’re heading back to Bree Street on the edge of Cape Town’s City Bowl District (CBD). My favourite street in Cape Town – it’s restaurant and bar heaven and perfect to stroll down sampling places along the way. Start at the top (Table Mountain end) of the street and weave your way down the hill.

It’s the sort of street you keep going back to and although there are myriad restaurants to try we regularly find ourselves drawn to La Parada on the corner. We even head straight for the same seats each time – if they’re not available we tend to feel somewhat peeved.

La Parada has been open for several years and serves tapas. A lot of the dishes are authentically Spanish and there’s also a nice South African twist to the menu. While the food has always been good, this year it seems to have been elevated to a different level – and on our first 2018 visit our waitress informed us that they have a new chef. He’s certainly put a little something extra into the dishes.

We visit Spain as often as we can and love Spanish food. Today’s gambas Pil Pil was authentic, with sweet, plump, fresh prawns flash fried in olive oil, chilli, garlic and lemon. The perfect combo of flavours giving a lovely garlic undertone and a real chilli bite.

La Parada: prawns

Luscious prawns in the perfect chilli, garlic sauce

Another Spanish classic – the ham croquettas were made with smoked ham and served with mustard aioli which they were sitting proudly on top of. Loved the slightly non-traditional presentation. The croquettas were delightfully crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy inside and the mustard aioli was a wonderful addition.

La Parada: croquettas

Beautifully soft croquettas with crunch

Served with star anise caramel and toasted sesame, the pork belly was sweet and sticky with crispy crackling and a lovely coleslaw-style salad . The sesame flavours came through wonderfully and I do love a bit of star anise.

La Parada: pork belly

Sweet and sticky pork belly

Possibly our favourite dish we’ve ever devoured at La Parada is the Champinones al Ajillo. A soft-poached egg is served on toast and a bed of mushrooms and truffle oil and topped with grated pecorino. So satisfyingly rich and earthy, I would order this every time I visited – come to think of it, I believe I have.

La Parada: mushrooms

The ultimately indulgent mushroom dish

La Parada: mushrooms

Topped with a perfectly poached egg

And then there’s the Patatas Bravas. Possibly the best-cooked potatoes in the world, this simple dish has been spiced up. After frying the morsels perfectly – crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft inside – the chef dusts the potatoes with paprika, giving them some heat. They are served with two sauces – aioli and rich tomato chutney. If all potatoes tasted like these I think I’d live off potatoes alone. Who knew such simple food could bring such joy?

La Parada: patatas bravas

Crisp, spicy potatoes with delicious dips

Lunch at La Parada is inevitably accompanied by a bottle of chilled Rose. I love their wine coolers – a sturdy plastic bag of sorts crammed with ice and water. Well, I do love everything about La Parada and I’m sure we’ll be back soon for some more delightful Spanish treats on my favourite street.

La Parada: Rose

A chilled and tasty glass of pinkness

Today’s price point

Finally, here’s what we paid. Our five tapas dishes cost R375 (around £23 at today’s exchange rate). Plenty for a substantial meal for two.

Wine starts from R135 (£8.20) a bottle for rose, R110 (£6.70) for white and R150 (£9.20) for red.

There are three branches of La Parada in Cape Town – Camps Bay, Constantia Nek and our favourite, Bree Street.

 

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell on Bree Street

Today we’re heading for lunch at SeaBreeze on Cape Town’s Bree Street. It’s a street on the edge of the City Bowl District (CBD) that I love meandering up and down. It’s home to our favourite pub The Crazy Horse (which sells English bitter to my husband’s delight), and plenty of bars, coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. It seems every year more open, yet none close so there’s even more to chose from. It’s all happening in Bree Street.

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell is up towards the mountain end of the street. Always handy when you have  something as  magnificent as Table Mountain to use as your landmark. It describes itself as “Celebrating the Mother City’s seafood heritage” – bring it on I say.

What’s on the menu

Of course it starts with with oysters. Three kinds in this case – Knysna (from the Garden Route), Saldhana (from the West Coast) and Luderitz (from Namibia). Everyone who loves oysters has their favourites, for me they can’t be too big or too creamy so it’s Knysna every time. They  have that perfect just-from-the sea flavour.

SeaBreeze: oysters

Juicy, saltily delicious Knysna oysters

The grilled prawns came deshelled with red slaw, sesame mayo, chilli nuts and some crispy noodles on the side. The sesame mayo was a wonder, perfect to dip those plump prawns in and add a bit of crunch with nuts and noodles. As we were up for a long lunch we asked if we could finish our starters before we ordered our main courses, our waitress was more than happy to accommodate us. What this did mean is that one of our party liked the prawn starter so much she ordered it again as a main-course portion. Now there’s a good dish!

SeaBreeze: prawns

Tasty, fresh prawns with plenty of crunch

I love fresh tuna but can’t face it if it’s been even slightly overcooked. I don’t know it seems to take most of the flavour out and and also gives it a mushy sort of texture, terrible way to ruin a beautiful piece of fresh tuna. So I was happy to hear the words: “Well done,  medium, rare or blue” when asked how I wanted mine cooked. Blue is the answer obviously. And this is what I got. A perfectly seared plate of delicious tuna served with charred cos, anchovies, quails egg and tomatoes.

SeaBreeze: tuna

Perfectly seared blue tuna

And now for something different – fish bunny chow. Bunny Chow (or Bunny) was originally a fast food dish of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry that was created in Durban, where there’s a large Indian community, in the 1940s. According to Wikipedia was also sold in Gweru, Zimbabwe during World War II and is still sold in Kadoma, Zimbabwe which is where I was born and grew up. Now there’s a bit of a surprise! Can’t say I saw any of those sort of bunnies around town in my childhood.

SeaBreeze: Bunny chow

Bunny chow with creamy Malay flavours

The bread was beautifully light, kind of brioche-like and the curry was Cape-Malay style, so mild and creamy. A delightful dish, one that makes me want to return purely so I can have one!

SeaBreeze: Bunny chow

Taking the lid off the bunny chow

SeaBreeze has a lovely chilled atmosphere and as befits its name has a seaside feel to it even though you’re not that close to the beach. The menu is all about things from the sea, though there is a steak choice available. But really you need to go there to celebrate the flavours of Cape Town’s choice seafood.

SeaBreeze: interior

The beach-style interior in blue and white

Today’s price point

Lunch for two including two starters, two main courses and a bottle of wine comes out at R655 (around £39 at today’s exchange rate).

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell is at 211-213 Bree Street.

Where to eat and drink on Cape Town’s Bree Street: Part One

So today we’re heading for Cape Town’s Bree Street. It’s on the edge of the City Bowl District (CBD) and I’ve watched the street develop into one of my favourite Cape Town areas. It seems like every year when I return a whole raft of new bars and restaurants have popped up and all the old favourites are still there. Consequently it’s a real challenge to keep up!

In fact, there’s so much going on I’m going to do a series on places you must visit in this buzzy street (lucky you). Here’s Part One.

Every year Bree Street has its Open Streets Day in January. Open Streets is a worldwide movement where a street is closed to traffic and all sorts of events take place. It’s a trend that’s growing in popularity around the world and such a great idea to watch people coming together to enjoy live music, street art, street food and eating and drinking in many of the lovely places.

The Station on Bree

Like at The Station on Bree. They bill themselves as the only underground station in Cape Town and all their signage is modelled on London’s tube system. As a Londoner I felt instantly at home here (I have spent many hours on the Underground after all!!).

Welcome to The Station on Bree

There are plenty of nooks and crannies to be discovered at The Station.

Follow the Underground signs to find your perfect spot

We settled in on the pavement under the enormous tree to enjoy some chilled Castle Light beer and people watching. We even won some Castle Light sunglasses – what style.

Showing off our prize sunglasses

Part of the street was turned into a work of art which everyone contributed to

La Parada

I eat at La Parada regularly – my love for Spain and its food is well documented. The best place in Cape Town for an authentic Spanish experience and food. Close your eyes and it seems like you’re in Spain. There are several La Parada restaurants in Cape Town now – one at Constantia Nek and one in Camps Bay- but this in my opinion is still the best one.

Tender salt and pepper squid and crispy patatas bravas

Fabulous mushrooms topped with a soft-poached egg

Delicately creamy croquettas

An amazing plate of pork belly

Of course, you don’t have to wait for Open Streets to visit Bree Street. Thankfully! Any day is a good day. And on the First Thursday of every month, as well as all the usual attractions,  you’ll have the chance to enjoy art and cultural exhibitions.

I’m going for dinner there next First Thursday. Hooray.

Watch this space for more on my series on Bree Street.

Do you have a favourite place you frequent here? I’d love to hear about it.

The Station on Bree is at 207 Bree Street.

La Parada is at 107 Bree Street.

It’s all happening in Bree Street, Cape Town

So Cape Town is World Design Capital for 2014. It’s the first African city ever to have been awarded this honour, in recognition of the city’s efforts to use design for social, cultural and economic development. Throughout the year there will be more than 450 officially recognised projects going on as well as hundreds of open events.

A special colour, Cape Town Yellow, has also been created (Pantone 109C) and it’s being used all over the city. The iconic Clocktower in the Waterfront is now a wonder in  yellowness.

The sunniness that is Cape Town Yellow

The sunniness that is Cape Town Yellow

And what this means to me is I’ve got yet another excuse to get out in this beautiful city and find out exactly what is going on. First stop Bree Street on the edge of the City. There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants to savour as well as some tempting shopping opportunities. Here’s what we found.

Jason Bakery (No 185) sells all kinds of tempting pastries, sandwiches and the most fabulous coffees.

jason

Terry and Candy, having enjoyed the delights of Jason

The most delicious egg -and sun-dried tomato tartlet at Jason

The most delicious egg -and sun-dried tomato tartlet

Skinnylaminx (No 201) is the inspiration of self-taught illustrator and designer, Heather Moore. She designs a range of beautiful fabrics that are now sold all over the world. In her lovely shop you will find cushions, aprons, tea towels, table runners, napkins, bags and plenty of other  goodies. My friend Candy has bought me several of her designs which you should have seen popping up in some of my blog photography. All of Heather’s products are made in Cape Town.

Skinnylaminx all decked out in Cape Town Yellow

Skinnylaminx all decked out in Cape Town Yellow

My latest acquisition from Skinnylaminx

My latest acquisition from Skinnylaminx

For more local produce, there’s SAM (South African Made) which sits above a great new tapas bar (more of that later). You’ll find original artwork, unique greeting cards, fab notebooks (how I love a notebook), clothes, bags and more.

Just off Bree Street (it counts it’s only a minute away) is House of Machines (84 Shortmarket Street). For a minute I thought I’d been transported to Amsterdam as the building it’s housed in wouldn’t look out of place there! It’s home to a US-based custom motorbike shop that “will build everything and anything” (motorbike-wise that is) and a coffee shop. You can also visit the Prohibition Bar which is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 5pm to 10pm.

Stop for refreshments at House of Machines

Stop for refreshments at House of Machines

Local wine bar Publik (again just off Bree at 81 Church Street) is a bar that focuses on more unusual and interesting wines. And you can sample a selection of charcuterie, cheeses, olives and nuts, depending on what’s available. It’s only open from 4pm to 10pm Monday to Friday so unfortunately I couldn’t visit it this time. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.

There’s also old favourite andunion (No 110), a totally chilled bar that serves craft beer, a range of wines and fabulous sausages and burgers.

And then there’s newcomer La Parada (No 107). I’ve been commenting on the lack of Spanish restaurants in Cape Town for a while now…and even once entertained the (very brief admittedly) thought of opening one. Well, Spain has arrived in Cape Town at long last. This tapas bar serves wonderfully authentic tapas as well as some larger dishes. You can sit on the pavement facing into the restaurant (so Spanish!) and soak up the atmosphere. To start off you’re brought a tasty concoction of roasted peppers on bread and marinated olives.

Smoky roast peppers and marinated olives

Smoky roast peppers and marinated olives

We then tucked into an array of tapas dishes, including tortilla, croquettas, patatas bravas, chilli prawns and pata negra. All delicious and authentic.

Classic Spanish croquettas

Classic Spanish croquettas

Chilli gambas and fabulous melt-in-the-mouth pata negra jamon

Chilli gambas and fabulous melt-in-the-mouth pata negra jamon

An authentic touch of Spain in Bree Street

An authentic touch of Spain in Bree Street

So there’s just a taster of what you will find along Bree Street. Just so you know, it is just a taster as there are plenty of other spots we didn’t get a chance to try. Even I can’t eat enough meals in one day to sample everywhere.

Do you have a favourite place in Bree Street? Or do you have a favourite street in Cape Town to tell me about? I’d love to hear from you.