imageDespite having been open on Main Street in Plettenberg Bay for the past four years, I only noticed Clare’s Cakes (& Deli) on my visit to Plett last week.  It offers very reasonably priced cakes, cupcakes, breads, as well as Deli items, in what is a pristine clean outlet. Service is its downfall.

It was immediately clear that Clare was not on duty on Saturday, and that the two waiters were not very efficient in dealing with the bustling coffee shop. Finally we got lucky in having Manager Gary Scott come to the table, and he was really helpful in providing information about the Coffee Shop, despite only having worked there for a month. Gary comes from Cape Town, having worked at The Wild Fig for a long time, as well as the Rondebosch and Camps Bay branches of Hussar Grill.

Gary filled me in as to the origin of Clare’s Cakes, saying that imageowner Clare Roode had two sets of twins, during which time she started baking cakes from her garage, eventually moving Clare’s Cakes to the Main Street premises, and opening Clare’s Deli next door two years ago. Clare comes from a talented hospitality family, her late aunt having owned the Christina Martin Cookery School in Durban. Gary also told me that the Christina Martin Culinary Arts Studio has just opened in Harkerville outside Plettenberg Bay. Clare’s father is Russell Stevens, Founder and Chairman of the Three Cities Hotel group, co-owner of Plettenberg Park, and of Quartet in Plettenberg Bay.

imageBlack and white photograph posters of Clare’s children adorn one of the walls. In the centre a shelving unit displays the treats, including carrot, red velvet, lemon meringue, chocolate, chocolate caramel, and vanilla cupcakes (R12); bran and blueberry muffins (R15); chocolate brownies (R18); energy bars (R16); scones (R12);  single biscotti and rusks at R3; big colored meringues (R5); and choc chip cookies (R8). A farm style white bread costs R12, and a seed loaf and kitke R25.

A separate refrigerated cake display unit looked empty and less attractive, with Red Velvet (R26), Lemon Meringue (R16), imageCoconut Fruit squares (R16), Carrot Cake (R28), Apple Pies, Pecan Pie, Chocolate Ganache, Cheesecake (R35), and a Hazelnut Meringue cake (R28), which looked quite messy but was very good.

Another shelf displays products to buy, including rusks, shortbread, gluten-free Biscotti, Gingerly Snapping, and African coffee meringues (which looked very suspiciously like those which I had seen at Ouland Royale the day before, and Gary imagecould not explain if they had been bought in, saying that they bake almost everything themselves, but if they are low on stock they will buy in).

The outside tables look odd and very old fashioned, being round with a printed green and black design on the table top, long past their sell-by date. The inside tables are square, and looked far more presentable, with pink rose motives on the tops. The table number is practically written on a ceramic sugar stick holder, and there is an unbranded pepper grinder, as well as a salt grinder with a Clare’s Cake sticker on it.

On weekdays they offer a Harvest Table at a very reasonable R15,50 per 100 gram, but the menu does not state that it excludes Saturdays. The sweetest Johannesburg couple sitting next to me told me that it is fantastic, very similar to that of the W Café at Woolworths, with a meat dish and very good salads.

Coffee is by LavAzza, and the coffee milkshake was good. All-day Breakfasts include Müsli (R25), blueberry pancakes (R26), French Toast (R30), scrambled eggs (R28), poached eggs (R25), omelettes (R39), Eggs Benedict (R50), and a Bakers Breakfast at R53.

The Deli sells pies, quiches, Asian sauces, olive oils, herbs imagein bottles, frozen berries, soups, ready-to-bake rolls and croissants, balsamic vinegar, olives, yoghurt, some leftover German Christmas biscuits, chickens, free-range eggs, pickled gherkins, duck fat, ready-made dishes such as chicken curry, coconut oil, and chicken live pâté.

The prices at Clare’s Cakes are exceptionally reasonable, and it is not difficult to see why the locals as well as visitors to the town fill it up. Service by the waiters needs a helping hand. Manager Gary has a good touch, and knows most of his customers. It is the Melissa’s of Plett, the only difference being its more reasonable prices.

POSTSCRIPT 28/1: Very rudely the Tweeter for Clare’s Cakes thanked us for our ‘review’ and told us to ‘refrain from retweeting the post’. A few further Tweets followed. In eight years of blogging we have not ever been demanded to stop Tweeting what is our intellectual property, and in such rude terms, publicly!

Clare’s Cakes & Deli, Shop 2, Marine Buildng, Main Street, Plettenberg Bay. Tel (044) 533 0000. No website. On Facebook. Twitter: @ClaresPlett  Monday – Friday 8h00 – 17h00, Saturday 8h00 – 13h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog  Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here