It feels a little surreal walking into Café du Cap in Loop Street, Cape Town. This road is known for its relentless bustle; the constant stream of people and cars makes it the very definition of big-city living. But find your way to Cartel House, step through the large glass doors into Café du Cap, and suddenly you’re in a different world.
The café was conceptualised by Samantha Mellor. ‘My vision was always a dark and dingy French cafe with everything squashed together,’ she says. ‘Somehow it’s all worked out and the new industrial look of the building works next to all the old stuff – with marble tables and bentwood chairs squashing in perfectly!’
Samantha’s love for fashion and decor seeps into every facet of the restaurant, where her own clothing label is available to purchase along with vintage French furniture and linen. Beautifully stressed carpets adorn the floors; crates, fabrics, bottles and baskets line the walls; the air is warm and aromatic; French Provincial music plays romantically in the background and the food is the element that ties it all together.
The main counter is lined with dishes: from salads and pies to breads, roasts and bakes, anything you could possibly want for lunch is right here. We opted for steak pie, cooked delicately in a small copper pot, with a side salad of tomato, onion and couscous. The food is as charming as the restaurant itself – flavourful and rich.
After lunch we explored all the treasures inside the eatery. Every corner is filled with something beautiful, but what makes the restaurant particularly interesting is the space it’s in: Cartel House. The building is known for its shared working spaces, where one business flows effortlessly into the next, and Café du Cap shares its space with Dando coffee. Climbing a few steps to the sound of La Môme in the background, we found a barber waiting at a gorgeous leather chair and, across from him a tailor behind a counter, needle and thread in hand, working carefully at a hem. Perhaps we were in a bygone era after all?
Visiting this space is an experience – not only for the good food and atmosphere, but also to see how well shared business spaces can work.
You can find Café du Cap at 113 Loop Street in Cartel House.