The Rhubarb Room is the cutest decor/coffee shop hidden away on Upper Buitengracht Street in Bo-Kaap. It attracted attention again, after previous visits, when its logo was spotted on the @2oceansvibe blog, listed as one of the sponsorship logos “Seth Rotherham”, the blog owner who uses this pseudonym (his real name is Will Mellor), lists on his blog. Mellor is the “king” of bloggers, and has a large following, both on his blog and on Twitter. A @2oceansvibe sponsorship can be worth gold, given the top brands that are listed as sponsors, their fees affording Mellor to enjoy a lifestyle without work, mainly hanging out in Camps Bay in general, and at Caprice in particular.
I asked Lauren Marshall, the Rhubarb Room co-owner, how she got to get her brand on the @2oceansvibe website. She appears to have a trade-exchange deal with Mellor, resulting from her boyfriend, Jason Slinger, being a friend of Mellor. Slinger negotiated the use of the penthouse in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel for Mellor. Lauren sounds chuffed about the news of her branding on the illustrious website. She admits that she has not yet embraced social media marketing, and Twitter in particular, and she is given a shorthand course and a set of notes!
The Rhubarb Room has more than half of its space dedicated to a decor shop, as well as a clothes shop in a separate room. One feels at home immediately, sitting in the shop, or on the terrace looking on to Table Mountain, at non-matching eclectic tables and chairs, adding to the charm. The far wall has a rhubarb-and-white stripe painted pattern, which is the only evidence of the name. I asked co-owner Sone’ Jacobs how their name came about, and she explained that the building exterior was the colour of rhubarb originally, when Lauren and her mother Maureen Marshall first used the building as an interior decor shop. The building has since been painted a brown colour.
The menu is so informal that it is not on paper. Lauren tells you the options as far as salads and sandwiches go for lunch, as well as a selection of cakes, some of which come from Jardines, she admits. The coffee is Illy, and the cappuccinos are excellent. Lauren types up the menu so that I can take a copy with me. She says that the menu changes daily. For breakfast one can have fresh fruit and muesli at R 32, a fresh fruit smoothie at R 18, or muffins. Sandwiches cost R 38, and a choice of Gypsy ham, cheddar cheese and onion marmalade; and roast chicken, rocket and parmesan is offered, while salads cost R 45 for two choices: parma ham, nectarine and parmesan; and roast chicken, feta, red pepper and rocket (the salad was served with balsamic vinegar, and the olive oil was optional – I would have preferred it the other way around) – yet was very tasty. Cakes include fresh blueberry and coconut; baby chocolate cakes with pistachio chocolate icing; and apple slices, all costing R 20.
Lauren’s mother Maureen and I connect, around having a dentist (Dr Toni Bedford) in common, and knowing two persons who have just passed away. When I left it felt as if I had spent the whole afternoon at the Rhubarb Room and not just an hour, and really enjoyed the friendliness and the connections.
Rhubarb Room, 142 Buitengracht Street (i.e. Upper Buitengracht Street), Bo-Kaap, tel 021 424 2004, www.rhubarbroom.co.za. Open Mondays to Fridays from 9h00 – 17h00, and on Saturdays from 9h00 – 14h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage