There are two Lazari Foodgallery restaurants in Cape Town. The Cape Quarter branch is a passionate pink place, focused on the colour pink, perfect for its location in and therefore attraction to the residents of De Waterkant, known as the pink capital of South Africa. It makes the most fabulous thick and foamy cappuccinos, and is a “European cafÃ©-style restaurant offering hearty easy meals”.
My first experience of Lazari (named after its owner Chris Lazari) soon after opening a year ago was not a positive one, with poor food quality and service. I did not bother to review it at that time. A cappuccino enjoyed earlier last week after the Marine Stewardship Council workshop at Jenny Morris’ Cook’s Playground across the road led me to return for brunch on Sunday. The place was heaving, with families, couples, and De Waterkant residents enjoying themselves. I received perfect service from a character called Willie. Willie was focused on wearing as much pink as possible, including a pink T-shirt, pink watch, pink slip-slops, pink bangles, with a pink and a white striped dishcloth over his shoulder, a self-made name tag in pink, and offering a pink pen with the bill! He is a graphic designer, he told me proudly. Willie’s colleagues wore pink or white T-Shirts, without the other pink additions, all wearing white pink-branded Lazari aprons. Sugar stick holders are pink.
The furniture is a mix of white and …. yes, pink chairs, looking like kitchen chairs of the ‘Fifties, around white square tables. The outside black chairs with see-through plastic backs looked very modern and chic. Lazari has two terraces, a smallish non-smoking one, and a large smoking one, a good call. Some walls are painted pink, and others red. I wasn’t sure about the addition of red in the paint and curtain colours to the pink interior dominance, but it all works somehow. The entrance wall from the centre has “flower power” wallpaper. Raw cement walls are a contrast, but one of them has been used as specials board. The cutlery is “cheap and cheerful”, rolled in paper serviettes.
What is great is that breakfast is served until 15h00 at Lazari. The menu is an unimpressive poorly photocopied page, so badly copied that all the prices on the right hand side of the menu were cut off. Breakfast options are fruit and yoghurt (R37); French Toast (R49); Flapjacks (R46); Health muesli, fruit and yoghurt (R45); eggs and bacon (R39); a most reasonably priced and lovely generous 3-egg omelet at R28, served with wholewheat toast, to which one can add 15 fillings, priced between R 9 – R14 each; croissants with cheese and preserves (R28), or with scrambled eggs and additions (R35 – R52). Eggs Benedict with spinach costs R38, and R52 with salmon. Lunches consist of interesting salads (a range of R48 – R65); a meze platter of four with toasted pita costs R65; pitas can be ordered with numerous additions, even bacon and eggs (R38); and ciabatta can be ordered with haloumi (R48), sweet Thai chilli chicken (R50) and as the “Ultimate Club” (R58). At night soup can be ordered at R35; camembert (R40); as well as mains such as schnitzel (R65); pasta (R60); lean beef, chicken and veggie burgers at R60; and pork and beef bangers (R50). Desserts are unusual too, and lemongrass, coconut and vanilla pannacotta costs R 34 and yummy sounding molten chocolate cake R50.
I loved the Italian-made beautiful cappuccino cup design, with the words “Collezione Portioli” written inside the cup. No one seemed to know the origin of the cups, and it was thought that they were supplied by the coffee suppliers Roastwell. Pink cupcakes eaten by patrons reinforce the colour scheme of Lazari.
A week ago I went to the Gardens branch of Lazari, and had exactly the opposite experience. I stopped there because it was only one of few restaurants open in the area. I sat outside as it was a beautiful summer’s day. A waiter grumpily told me to come inside if I wanted to order, and refused to tell me what was on the board, so that I could stay seated. I decided to leave, and so found The Sidewalk Cafe, subject of a future review.
Lazari will be my new favourite cappuccino stop, when I am in town.
Lazari Foodgallery, Cape Quarter, Napier Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town. Tel (021) 419-9555. www.lazari.co.za (Website is short and sweet, and contains the menus for both Lazari restaurants). Twitter @Lazari_CQ. Mondays and Tuesdays 7h30 – 17h00, Wednesdays – Sundays 8h00 – 22h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage