I had heard about the newly opened Illyria Coffee Concepts in the recently refurbished and modernised Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch, well-positioned next door to Woolworths.   It is the most stylish coffee shop I have seen in a long time (the last contender for this accolade, Black at 15 on Orange, has closed down).   It serves a collection of stylish cakes and other sweet treats, but disappoints on the savoury side.

The coffee brand Illy dominates visually, and the decor theme is red and white.  There are beautiful white leather chairs and tables, the tables perhaps a little too low for the chairs, and the food is served with very stylish Abert cutlery, a material serviette and small Peugeot salt and pepper pots (I have also seen Peugeot at the Planet Restaurant and at Delaire Graff Restaurant).  

The cakes, muffins and cupcakes are beautifully made, and come from a supplier in Franschhoek.   I was disappointed with my baguette, filled with cheese, tomato, lettuce and cucumber, although tasty and not expensive at R29, did not match the style standard of the sweet treats served at Illyria, and was just presented on a white plate with potato chips out of a packet, which I did not eat, and defeated the choice of the healthy baguette filling.

The menu is printed on a laminated hard board.  What is clever is a number of well-priced combination offers, each including a cup of coffee/cappuccino/tea.  So, for example, a muffin, a small chocolate cupcake and a small carrot cupcake, with the beverage, costs R25; chocolate nut cake, lemon meringue and the beverage costs R45;   chocolate brownie and beverage R30; carrot cake, chocolate cake, baked cheese cake and the beverage costs R 35; and a carrot cupcake, beautiful looking Belgian white chocolate cupcake and the beverage costs R40.    Individual cake slices are charged at R27 – R35.   Salads start at R39 for a salad made with vegetables, and costs R45 if made with pasta or meat.   Sandwiches start at R29, and cost R36 when filled with meat.  A cappuccino is well-priced at R13, teas cost R11, muffins R15, and croissants cost R16 served plain, or R26 when filled with cheese and ham.  Deliveries are done to other businesses in the Eikestad Mall and surrounding area.

Illyria is owned by a family collection of brother Ramon Corie (not the friendliest restaurateur, in my experience of his Manouche, a Lebanese restaurant in the same street in Stellenbosch), sister Shaan and brother-in-law Richard Gaybba, and sister Tamsyn Pienaar.  I was impressed with the Illyria Loyalty Card which I received when paying the bill, offering a free coffee for every 10.

I was impressed with the decor, and I am sure that the new menu that is being worked on will look at improving the savoury offerings and presentation.  It is a very comfortable modern place to relax in, and well airconditioned for the Boland heat.

Illyria Coffee Concepts, upstairs, Eikestad Mall, Andringa Street, Stellenbosch.  Tel (021) 886-8522.  No website.  Open Monday – Friday 8h30 – 18h00, Saturday – Sunday 8h30 – 14h00.

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