It was a surprise to discover Skinny Legs & All, a new restaurant on Loop Street, opposite Ebony Art Gallery and next door to L’Aperitivo, last week. It is owned by the delightful twins Jessie and Jamie Friedberg, both rather skinny, probably from working so hard in being hands-on in the restaurant.  Jessie handles the orders and Jamie the kitchen.

Jessie and Jamie are from Johannesburg and studied at UCT, and loved Cape Town so much that they decided to stay and open a restaurant together.  They say they have no experience in running a restaurant, but both enjoy food.   An associate is João Ferreira, and they have used his previous gallery space for the restaurant.  Interesting works of art from Ferreira’s private collection decorate the walls.  Artists include Brett Murray, Mark Hipper, Sanell Aggenbach and Bridget Baker.  Tables have white tops and wooden legs, and were made for them especially by Marko, the owner of Pure Solid and Oiishi delicious Caffe on Kloof Street, as they loved the look of the legs of his restaurant tables.  An interesting collection of white-painted A-frame chairs from their home, and wooden school chairs they found at antique shops, dominate the interior.   Outside stood the Vespa belonging to Jamie and the bicycle which Jessie uses to get to work.

The restaurant is a large open space, but with only about seven tables, and the ability for them to spill out onto the pavement.  The kitchen is open to the restaurant, and one can almost call across the Jessie and Jamie from one’s table to the counter.   They named their restaurant after the Tom Robbins book “Skinny Legs and All”, in which two characters own a Middle-Eastern restaurant in New York. The menu is typed on an A4 sheet, and lists all-day breakfast, lunch, sandwich, and main course options.   Jessie told me that they worked closely with Chef Brad Ball of Bistro 1682 in finding trustworthy suppliers of fresh produce.  The menu is introduced as follows: “Our produce is locally sourced, our eggs truly free-range and we’ve stocked our pantry as if it were home. Every condiment and spread is made by us from the herb mayo and basil pesto right down to the lemon cordial.  A formula based on simplicity – real food unadulterated and unadorned”.   Their eggs come from Mushrooms & Things, and the Country Sourdough and Cedarhouse Rye breads come from Jason’s, previously Jardine Bakery.  Everything else is made by Jamie.

Breakfast options include Raw Muesli with grated apple and sheep milk yoghurt (R35); Fruit salad (R65); Soft scrambled eggs, with tomato (R45), smoked salmon and avocado (R60), and with proscuitto (R55); Stacked French Toast, served with vanilla-infused fruit compote and a ‘dollop’ of crème fraiche (R45); Freshly baked scones, jam and anise crème fraiche (R25); and Toasted banana bread with fresh berries and bluegum honey (R45).    Lunch options include ‘Gruel of the day” (R40); Salad of Fior di Latte, served with proscuitto and almonds (R85); Panzella, a Tuscan salad served with country bread, goat’s milk feta, mint and basil (R65); and Warmed Goat’s cheese salad (R70).   Sandwiches with Cremalat Mozzarella, Franschhoek Trout, or Chicken and avocado cost around R65.  For lunch I enjoyed the scrambled egg with smoked salmon, a generous portion, to which was added slices of avocado, which was not mentioned on the menu, and was a nice surprise. I took home a main course of Wild Mushroom parcel served with wild rice (R68), for dinner.  It was interestingly served in a paper parcel!  Other main courses are Charred lemon and rosemary chicken (R70), and Moroccan-style meatballs (R85).

The cutlery was unbranded and served with a paper serviette.  There are no tablecloths.  The water jug was jam packed with slices of lemon.   The cappuccino was served with a sweet heart-shaped biscuit.  Everything was perfect in the restaurant, except the heat, despite it being a cold winter’s day.  I felt uncomfortably hot.  It was no surprise that Jessie was wearing a summer dress.  In summer it should be perfect, when the door to outside is open.  The restaurant name is very low key on its glass window, and it would be hard to find it if one did not know its location.  I felt very welcome at Skinny Leggs & All, and will be back. 

Skinny Legs & All, 70 Loop Street, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 423-5403.  www.skinnyleggsandall.co.za  Monday – Friday 7h00 – 16h00, Saturday 8h30 – 14h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter:@WhaleCottage