Restaurant Review: Relax at Cafe Max


WhaleTales does not usually write about established restaurants, but Cafe Max is too special to not write about it, and appears to be a hidden gem that few Capetonians (except those living in De Waterkant) know about.   It has been operating for close to 5 years, and is a relaxed homely friendly place, offering exceptional value for money meals, compared to the restaurants in the new nearby Cape Quarter.  A review by Dax Villanueva (RelaxwithDax) was the incentive to try out the restaurant.

Owned by Anna Ridgewell, originally from Zimbabwe, and a graduate of the Silwood School of Cookery, a chef at And Beyond’s Ngala and Kwandwe game reserves, and owner of a guest house in Grahamstown, she came to Cape Town, and bought the space, previously called Cafe Maxime and housing a jewellery and coffee shop, two years ago.   Anna says she is there all day, every day, and is hands-on in preparing and  bringing out the food, and chatting to the guests.  

The main section of the restaurant is a long rectangular room, which was set up with one long table for a function.    Two exquisite Marie-Antoinette flower arrangements in beautiful silver vases attracted attention, especially brought in for an evening function.   The floor has large black and white tiles, a personal favourite, and the walls are painted a silver grey with the finest hand painted blossoms on them.   Three replica art deco-style mirrors dominate the room.  One can step into a courtyard which is covered with a grey and white canopy, and have the benefit of fresh air, and a water feature adds a nice fresh sound-effect too.   A children’s bedding shop Bubble leads from the courtyard.

The menu is printed on a laminated sheet, and offers a variety of breakfast and lunch options.   Breakfasts include Eggs Benedict with ham (R59) or salmon (R69), fluffy scrambled eggs and bacon at R 52, or with salmon at R 65, tartine aux champignons at R 52, muesli and yoghurt at R 39, boiled egg and soldiers (sweet touch!) at R 25, a sunshine breakfast that offers 2 fried eggs, bacon, toast, baked beans, tomato and mushroom, at an astoundingly reasonable R 29 (if you arrive between 7h30 – 8h30, the same sunshine breakfast only costs R 20!), French toast (R 29), sweetcorn fritters with salmon, poached egg and hollandaise sauce at R 59, flapjacks at R 25, and a breakfast baguette costs R 25.  The cappuccino was served in a very large cup, and perfect, costing R 15.   A cute touch was honey served in a small espresso cup.   A chipped stem of a water glass was not.  Presentation of the egg dishes is no-nonsense, with no decoration, but it does not seem to matter.

For lunch a selection of salads (caprese and caeser, at R 45 each), smoked salmon (R 72), chicken or Burger (R 59), and chicken liver (R 45) is offered.   Tartines (“flash toasted” bread), with fillings such as caprese, smoked salmon, chicken, The Max Club, The Max Burger and Chicken Burger, range in price from R 49 to R 85.  Lovely breads and sweet treats (e.g. the most beautifully iced and presented cupcakes) are for sale.

For the second time in a week, a good selection of wines-by-the-glass was seen to be offered (Salt Deli too) to single wine drinkers.  Cafe Max offers 12 wines, and all but one are sold by both the bottle or the glass.   Pongracz, Villiera and PJ Brut are sold in a range of R 20 – R 30 per glass, and white wines range from R 15 for the De May Cenin Blanc and their Rose, and Joostenberg Viognier to R 32 for the Haute Cabriere Chardonnay and Domaine Grier Maccaben Viognier.  Red wines start at an unbelievable R 15 for the Joostenberg Shiraz Merlot and MAN Vintner Shiraz to R 22 for the Stark Conde Pinot Noir.

The Cafe Max catering service was used for a Social Media Marketing workshop, and the tray of finger snacks looked and tasted amazing, and was good value. 

Cafe Max, 126 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant (from Somerset Road take the road alongside PG Glass/Boardmans), and turn right into Waterkant Street to find it).   Tel 021 425 5102.   Open Tuesdays to Fridays from 7h00 – 16h00, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9h00 – 15h00.   Dinner is served on Thursday evenings, from 18h30.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:

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