A Facebook post and a subsequent Tweet alerted me to the opening of Tamboers Winkel in De Lorentz Street in Gardens, in the space of the previous cheesecake home of Chez Chez.  Owner Theo van Niekerk has opened up the kitchen for all to see his homecooking, and has created a warm homely space with excellent food to eat as ‘communal feasting’ or to take away.

The centrepoint of the smallish space is a wooden table seating ten, and the nice part is that one sits down and starts talking to someone else at the table that one may never have met before, as ‘gesellig’ as the long table at my Laundry is.  Whereas the previous interior was modern and red, the new Deli and Café is dominated by wood, with the wooden table and chairs, wooden shelving on both walls, and wooden counter tops in the shop window.  They have one outside table too.  The most modern part is the Deli counter, filled with delectable salads, charcuterie, and cheeses.  Theo told me that Marcii Goosen had done the decor, and the styling is beautiful, especially the section with the croissants and breads, which are supplied by Manna Epicure from around the corner and displayed in an old suitcase, and the free-range eggs from Montagu, which are beautifully presented on straw. Old photographs hang overhead.   On the shelving are balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustards, a carob and nut spread, orange and black pepper salt, relishes, Deluxe coffee, and other home-made treats, all available to buy.

On my first visit Clarissa Lee was behind the counter, and served a lovely phyllo pastry chicken pie, with an apple and pea salad and nutmeg and yoghurt dressing served in a tea cup, both presented on a wooden board, gorgeous to look at before taking a bite. The cutlery looks like it comes from ouma’s kitchen, the knives having old-fashioned yellowing handles.  I returned a few days later with my friend Bettie Coetzee-Lambrecht, and she loved it too. She is a photographer of note, and gave me some styling tips before I took the photograph of the chicken lasagne and butternut, feta, and couscous salad, the salad also served in a tea cup.   On Friday the table was full over our lunchtime visit, just two weeks after opening.

Theo was previously the Manager of Van Hunks, Oblivion, and Carlyles. Tamboers Winkel is his first own venture.  He grew up in Ficksburg, and has fond memories of his grandmother’s homely farm kitchen, which he has tried to replicate the atmosphere of.  Clarissa, Theo’s right hand, is equally adept at making things happen in the kitchen behind the counter, as she was in serving us, with a very friendly nature and clearly passionate about food.

The Deli counter sells a selection of cheeses supplied by Get Stuffed, including Gorgonzola, Karoo Blue, 3 month aged Cheddar, Bocchini, Emmental, Pecorino, as well as Brie and Camembert.  There is a guava preserve with vanilla and star anise, as well as a red wine and pear preserve.   Salad options are a chickpea and Bocchini,  the apple and pea, and butternut and feta, all at R 19, or served with the hot dishes of the day, at R40. Sandwiches range from R28 – R35, and include Black Forest and poached pear, roast chicken and aioli, and winter vegetable.  A cheeseboard with crispy bread and olives costs R55.  One can order free-range chicken fresh and hot off the rotisserie. Roast chicken and salad costs R 79 for a whole, R54 for half, and R44 for a quarter chicken.  The charcuterie comes from Twelve Pigs, and includes coppa, pancetta and Bresaola.  Breakfast is kept simple, with a choice of croissants or frittata. Everything is written onto a blackboard, which means that the menu can be updated regularly.

Its convenient location, homely interior and service, convenient opening hours, as well as its small selection of healthy foods and Deluxe coffees already have made Tamboers Winkel a popular stop in the Gardens area, just off Kloof Street, for a sit down chat or a friendly take-away service.

POSTSCRIPT 27/6: Marcii Goosen, the interior designer, was at Tamboers Winkel today, and was a delight to chat to. She was planning a shoot for the website.  Clarissa baked chocolate brownies today, and cupcakes are coming next, Theo said.

POSTSCRIPT 11/7: Lovely Breakfast Frittata made by Clarissa this morning, as well as a new addition to the menu, being beautiful cupcakes. On Twitter Tamboers Winkel was described as ‘the hottest new place in Cape Town‘.

Tamboers Winkel, 3 De Lorentz Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Tel (021) 424-0521. www.tamboerswinkel.com Twitter: @TamboersWinkel Tuesday – Friday 9h00 – 18h00 (from 2 October).  Saturday and Sunday 9h00 – 16h00.  Can cater for private events in the evenings, by arrangement. Free wi-fi.

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