Picture yourself in a vintage scene on a cobbled road in Paris. The smell of roasted beans draws you to an elegant patisserie bathed in the late afternoon sepia sunlight. You are welcomed by a dapper young maitre’d who dressed in elegant beige linen welcomes you to your table and pulls your seat out for you as you drift down into soft brown leather. Now picture all that in a far more relatable setting right here in Cape Town.
Cavendish Square boasts the opening of the flagship store of Coco Safar. An internationally conceptualised brand that has chosen South Africa to launch in and has global aspirations to open stores in major cities around the world.
It’s quite fitting to have launched in Cape Town, it being one of the biggest hot spots of coffee culture nowadays. As, coffee is certainly the prime focus of this brand. I was invited for a Coco Safar experience this week and I call it an experience for a reason. Firstly, the walk up to the restaurant reveals the stand alone espresso station outside where you can have a quick cuppa on the barstools or grab a takeaway. Espresso station doesn’t quite give you the full picture. It’s more like an elegant vintage, steam punk style coffee bar. You want to play it cool but you can’t help but stop and stare.
As you enter the double volume coffee shop, on your right they have a beautifully fitted coffee emporium, where they sell Coco Safar branded coffee capsules. They offered us a coffee tasting to sample their unique Third Wave coffee. You’ll hear this phrase thrown about a lot. What exactly is Third Wave coffee? It’s a movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity (wikipedia). One of the baristas Lucien, talked us through the origins of their coffee, sourced internationally from select producers and packed in capsules locally which are further individually sealed in plastic pockets with 99% of the oxygen vacuumed out to retain the absolute freshest flavour. The coffees range in intensity from 1 till 5 and are all a medium roast. They prefer the rounder full bodied flavours of medium roasting so they don’t offer very dark roasts. We tasted the mild Havana at a 3 intensity which I found too mild and the stronger Napoli, a 5 intensity which suited my palate much more. The flavour was so good I had it without sugar. The capsules are beautifully boxed, Nespresso compatible, sold 15 in a box and start at R149 a box.
We were then seated at our wooden table with gold inlay. I took the dark green plush booth seat against the wall and Zulfi was seated in a tub leather dining chair. The attention to detail and comfort is impressive. The feel of the shop is a bit British Colonial with French overtones, very “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. Lighting is subtle and not as bright as the rest of the mall. I love also that they source and use a lot of local crafters. The blown glass lampshades come from an outfit in Paarl. The leather finishes against the wall is from a small business in Parow and the handmade clay crockery is sourced from a small business in Muizenberg. The venue is small and tables a bit close together so it feels quite intimate. They were full when we were there at 12pm and staff tell me they’re just as busy all day.
The menu is very much cafe style with light meals and dessert options. You are not going to Coco Safar if you’re super hungry and need a big steak. The fare here is paired down but beautifully presented. Each dish is a work of art. We had a spiced tonic to start which is a delicious ginger, lemon and mint drink with the slight bitterness of tonic and a pressed juice of grapefruit and orange which was just as good. We opted for the Goat Cheese, butternut and mushroom frittata which came with a zuchini rosti and a fresh grapefruit and orange salad in a honey dressing, as well as the Foldover with sundried tomoato and goat cheese. My frittata was served in a shallow bowl which made it much like a quiche. It was delicious and flavourful with notes of warming nutmeg. The Foldover, which is essentially a pastry with a sweet or savoury filling was more subtle in flavour but still delicious. Perhaps a bit small for lunch but that meant there was room for dessert, the pièce de résistance. The one side of the shop is taken by a long curved counter with an array of sweet and savoury pastries, chocolate bon bons, eclairs (an understatement), Mousse domes, (another understatement) and Safajores, which is a slightly different take on Macarons. You cannot call this just dessert, it’s “Couture Patissirie” as they put it and I couldn’t agree more. We had a Salted Caramel and Pecan dome and a Chocolate Orange eclair. While the eclair looked nothing like you’d expect it was a work of art. But it was the Salted Caramel dome that stole the show. The texture of the ‘marshmallowey’ mousse was perfect and the flavours of caramel and salt were balanced just right without being overwhelmingly sweet. Cappucino was served on a small wooden tray in handcrafted clay cups with a small glass of sparkling water and a tiny Madelleine on the side. They are a bit on the pricey side. Our meals were both in the R100 range.
Presentation is everything here. Even the waiters are dressed in linen. Our waiter was helpful and very knowledgeable of the menu. They have made sure that a lot of training has gone into their staff. The management of Coco Safar have told me they are fully halaal. The meat that they serve is sourced from a halaal supplier. They are currently busy with the halaal certification process and are awaiting the outcome.
For an elegant dining experience you can find them on the ground floor in Cavendish Square.
Tel: 021 671 1607