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.

The taste of Spain at La Parada

I love Spain and deep down feel the Spanishness of my ancestors in my genes – even though it was a very long way back. So I was very excited when a tapas bar opened in Cape Town a couple of years ago. La Parada is on buzzy Bree Street and I’m pleased to say simply shouts Spain. The restaurant opens out onto the street and you can sit at a counter on the pavement looking in on the action. I’ve sat in many a tapas bar just like this one on the streets of many Spanish towns, happy days!

La Parada’s dishes are generous in size, amazingly authentic and great value And to make it all even better, a new head chef has been lured over from Spain. Andres Condes worked at the legendary El Bulli with ground-breaking chef Ferran Adria and brings his talented touch to the menu which changes regularly. The initial disappointment of not finding one of your favourites is soon overcome by the excitement of trying something new.

Spicy steak is thinly sliced and served on bread topped with sweet tomato.

steak tapas

Amazing tender steak tapas with patatas bravas bringing up the rear

Deep fried fish is a Spanish favourite and this yellowtail was amazingly sweet and tasty, served with a saffron mayo.

fish

Deep fried summer fish that melts in the mouth

The ensalada mixte (mixed salad) has pride of place on every Spanish menu – a simple dish using the freshest of ingredients, topped with hard boiled eggs and a delicate dressing.

mixed salad

A classic ensalada mixte

One of my La Parada favourites, it’s called smashed eggs. A lovely mix of crisp potatoes, soft egg and spicy sauce. It wasn’t on the menu on my last visit…hoping for its return.

smashed eggs

The delightful combo called smashed eggs

Patatas bravas is a tapas classic and it doesn’t come better than these. Piping hot, crunchy on the outside and soft inside with beautifully spicy sauce. Oh and this portion costs R20 (about £1.10)…such a bargain.

IMG_5531

Perfect patatas bravas

I’ve eaten my share of ham croquettes, and again, I can’t remember ever having such perfect ones. The creaminess and crunchiness mix perfectly.

croquettas

Croquettes that are fluffy, crispy and creamy

La Parada also has a fabulous cocktail list – try their Bloody Mary which is made with chorizo vodka. And on a sunny day a bottle of rose completes the meal perfectly. I love this wine bag…have to find out where to buy one.

wine

Bring on the rose

One of the walls is covered in Spanish posters…just fabulous.

wall

Love the Spanish wall

As well as tapas, La Parada also has a range of main-course dishes that I’ve yet to try. I’m still enjoying the tapas too much. This little corner of Spain in Cape Town is a great-value, fun place to go and it’s very popular – evenings (especially wind-free warm ones) can be really hectic with crowds spilling out onto the street. Lunch is a quieter time to enjoy the lovely food, friendly service and get your Spanish fix. Regularly!

laparada

La Parada is at 107 Bree Street, Cape Town and its sister is in Kalk Bay.

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.