I have driven past BREAD in The Bromwell Boutique Mall on my way to the Old Biscuit Mill on numerous occasions. It was a welcome escape from my visit to the Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday. It has been open for 22 months, and I was impressed with the quality and design focus in this beautiful building, housing the BREAD Deli, Boulangerie and Café downstairs, and a fashion, furniture and art boutique upstairs.
The Bromwell is a beautifully restored 1927 erstwhile hotel building, once an ‘infamous house of red doors’, the website says. It belongs to Adelaide Potgieter, the founder of the nearby The mad (Marketing, Advertising, Design) Agency, which handles the advertising and promotions for Shoprite and Checkers exclusively, and her brother Solomon, who is now the CEO of the agency. The building, with its lovely parquet flooring, has been restored, with Heritage Society approval, to its former glory, and works of art are displayed throughout, with prices indicated. In the restaurant, for example, a large painting by Mark Matthysen of the Dalai Lama is for sale at R10000. The entrance is manned by a very smart doorman, almost out of place on a Woodstock street dominated by poverty. At the reception counter a Swiss German lady directed me to the Deli/Boulangerie section, and I followed the path to the right. She was very cagey about providing information about the owners. One steps into the Deli section, with a range of imported and local products, including NoMU rubs, Jenny Morris spice grinders (I had not seen these before), Vanilla Man grinders, Hillcrest Berry jams, pickled walnuts, bottled gherkins, Apfelmuss, olive chutney, different brands of balsamic vinegar, stone ground wheat, Honest Chocolate organic spread, Italian pasta products, and much more. The advertising side of the owners came to the fore in the striking black branded bag that the lady from the Boulangerie offered me to put my purchases into, and the bags form part of the neat Deli display. Opposite it is the Boulangerie (and patisserie!), in which well-lit baskets with wholewheat and white baguettes, country loaves, rye bread, Portuguese rolls, sesame seed rolls, croissants, pain au chocolat, and brioche, are displayed. Glass cabinets display the most beautiful selection of pastries, including velvet cupcakes, triple chocolate tarts, fruit tarts, lemon meringue, milk tarts, tiramisu, Babel chocolate tower, Apfelstrudel, lemon pound cake, marble cake, blackberry tarts, frangipani tarts, and Turkish delight. On the dessert page of the BREAD menu it states: “We produce the best quality cakes, cookies and pastries using only real chocolate, real cream, real butter and the freshest fruits and other ingredients. We simply do not compromise on quality“. The Pastry Chef is Shana Faes and the Baker is Eugene Knight.
Beyond the Deli/Boulangerie is a seating area for the Café, but it had hardly anyone sitting there, so I followed the sound of a guitar to a much nicer second room of the restaurant, with a window to the street, furnished with attractive genuine chandeliers, and the most comfortable restaurant chairs that I have ever sat on, some in red and some in green fabric. Tables have Singer sewing machine-style legs and concrete tops. Red upholstered benches run along two walls. There are no table cloths, but each table has a BREAD-branded material serviette, beautiful Italian Pinti cutlery with the most unusually long handles, yin yang salt and pepper pots, BREAD-branded sugar sticks, and surprisingly, a terribly old-fashioned non-designer wooden pepper grinder. I suggested to Manager Daniel Justus that the Jenny Morris pepper grinders in their Deli would match the designer feel of the restaurant far better. The guitarist walking around the restaurant was an odd touch. One can sit outside too, which some guests did, despite it being a chilly Saturday. A most elegant gentleman, wearing a long pin-striped jacket on a Saturday morning, making him look like the father of a bride, attracted attention. I was told that he is the father of the owner, and is at the restaurant regularly, called the ‘Godfather’ by the staff!
The red leather menu and beverage list cover contains well-presented information printed in white on black laminated paper. The first page contains a piece written about bread by Nataniël (the Checkers cheese spokesperson and avant garde singer), starting with “She was old, but she was wise and powerful. Give us food, we told her. Make us strong. Teach us magic and endurance. She gave us bread. We ate and came alive.” The lyrics are framed and hung in the restaurant too. The breakfast options are unusual, a twist on familiar items. I had a BREAD Benedict, and the requested removal of the prosciutto or salmon trout accompaniment probably made the dish look less attractive, with only one free-range egg served on a delicious slice of wholewheat bread with hollandaise sauce, for which I was charged R35 instead of the usual R65. The menu proudly emphasises for each dish which items are free-range and organic, probably adding a premium to the prices charged, but a commendable touch. Most egg dishes cost R45. Fried egg is served with ‘free-range mozzarella’ (an odd concept), slow-roasted tomato, and home-made mayonnaise. Bacon and mascarpone scrambled eggs served on a baguette sounded interesting, and would be a choice for a next visit. ‘BREAD Frenchie’ is a home-made brioche served with bacon and maple syrup. The Breakfast Cocktail contains organic muesli, ‘free-range yoghurt’, and ‘organic mountain honey’. The ‘Morning Yorkie’ is a take on Yorkshire Pudding, served with banana, bacon, tomato pesto, and maple syrup. A croissant with ‘free-range cheese’ and preserves costs R35.
Starters are soup of the day (R30), a platter of breads, dips and patés (R35), and tapas from R25 each. Salads cost R55 – R60, and some are unusual: Chicken and Chorizo, Kudu Loin carpaccio, Butternut and Danish Feta, Camembert and Fig, and a warm Bocconcini Bowl. Sandwiches range from R45 – R65, and include Wild Turkey, Spicy Prego, Smoked Salmon bagel, Club sandwich, roast beef, Green curry wrap, and garlic chicken. Main courses include ‘Lucky Fish’ of the day, lamb burger, chicken burger, melanzane, and prawn tagliatelle, all under R100, and ‘Sir Lowry’s Medallions’ 25-day aged sirloin (R120), and ‘Beef on the Bone’, being oven-grilled short rib (R110). The dessert offering is the pastries from the Boulangerie, costing R10 for croissants, and R15 – R25 for the tarts. I took home a most delicious, rich, creamy chocolate mousse topped with strawberries in a BREAD-branded container.
The winelist has an unspecified red and white wine by the glass at R25. Rosés are by Boschendal (R70), Delheim (R80), and ‘Solms’ (R100). Twelve white wines are separated by variety, being Chardonnays (R100 – R170), and Sauvignon Blancs (R85 – R160) in the main. Twenty red wines, not all identified by vintage or variety, range from R95 (Beyerskloof Pinotage) – R1000 (Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2005). The cappuccino costs R19, and was served with a mini-meringue on the side.
Upstairs is a collection of rooms with beautifully displayed furniture, decor items, hand-made leather ballet shoes by Coastal & Koi (on my wishlist despite the R1100 price tag!), clothing items, jewellery, handbags, paintings, and sculptures. No-photography signs are visible upstairs, and I was given permission to photograph when I told the manager that I wanted to write a story about this amazing design centre. About a week ago, Top Billing featured the launch of a new clothing range by designer David Tlale, which was held at The Bromwell during Cape Town Fashion Week, I was told by Daniel.
I’ll be back to try more of the BREAD menu, to eye the shoes again, and to buy some of the wonderful bread. Waiter service was disappointingly slow, even though the restaurant was not full, and there appearing to be enough staff on duty. The lady in the Boulangerie was very service-driven, being proactive. Daniel was helpful in copying the menu for me, offering this service. He told me that they are working on an integrated POS system, which allows the restaurant to add Deli and Boulangerie items to the bill, which caused a hiccup in my case, and had to be added by hand. I liked the health focus of BREAD, many products supplied by Mushrooms & Things, Eureka Milling, Espresso Lab, and Imhoff.
BREAD Café, Boulangerie, Deli. The Bromwell Boutique Mall, 250 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. Tel (021) 447-4730. www.breadcafe.co.za. (The website has the menu, but no Image Gallery, nor a link to The Bromwell Boutique Mall website). www.thebromwell.co.za (The website is a collection of photographs, and contains a link to the BREAD website). Monday – Friday 8h00 – 17h00, Saturday 9h00 – 17h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage