I know the name of Martin Senekal, from having been impressed with his beautifully designed quiches, cake slices, and other foods, at his stand at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. I was told earlier this week that he has opened a ‘hole in the wall’, as a resident of De Waterkant called it, in Jarvis Street, called Cafeteria, and selling a small selection of home-made take-away sandwiches, wraps, soup, and confectionery. They also offer a delivery service in the area.
Martin studied at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, and then worked as a classic chef in a hot kitchen, as well as pastry chef at a range of hotels and restaurants, including the Cape Grace Hotel, Manolo, The Showroom, The Blue Danube, and 96 Winery Road. Five years ago he went on his own, and created the brand ‘Martin Senekal Confectionery Design’, using the Neighbourgoods Market as his retail outlet on Saturdays, and taking orders for his amazing works of cake art (like the sweet potato and peanut cake above). Martin assured me that he is not into doing theme cakes. He does classic cakes, in full size as well as miniatures.
The Cafeteria opened three weeks ago, and is difficult to see in Jarvis Street. It is a surprise to see a very small white space, with only three wood and glass counters, made by Senekal himself, to display his sandwiches, wraps, macaroons, tarts, cake slices, and biscuits. A blackboard lists the styles of häzz coffees, and another the sandwich and wrap options and prices. There is couch-like seating, with some magazines on a table, but I got the feeling that it was more for design than use. The space is cordoned off with a white muslin curtain, and the wrap that I ordered was made in the space behind the curtain. In about six weeks Senekal will open the next door space, for a sit-down service. Given Senekal’s reputation for confectionery creativity, and the intrigue of this almost hidden space, one can predict that Cafeteria will become a trendy spot.
I ordered a wrap containing a Waldorf salad, with apples, walnuts, raisins in yoghurt dressing and Camembert, a unique combination, and fresher than fresh. There are three other wrap options: roast vegetables and goat’s cheese; coriander pesto chicken with Brie and watercress; Cape Malay spiced yoghurt with green beans and cashews; and Chermoula chicken, slow roasted plum tomato, and wild rocket, all costing an unbelievably low R20. I didn’t see the soup of the day, at R25. Sandwiches cost R30, and options offered on rye or sourdough are Chermoula chicken, mature white cheddar, gammon, and rare roast beef. Baked phyllo vegetable roulade costs R20. Parmesan-crusted quiches costs R20, and come as two options: butternut and goat’s cheese, and oven-dried rosa tomato and olive. Special dietary requirements and flavour combinations can be catered for, the menu says.
It is the sweet treats that make an impact, being in the central display cabinet, with their colour and beautiful design, clearly reflecting Senekal’s passion. Petit Tartes, being Belgian chocolate and lemon meringues, cost R10; milk tarts R15; cake slices R20, with a choice of carrot cake and gluten-free chocolate cake; Belgian chocolate brownies cost R15; Macaroons are offered in twelve flavours (the more unusual ones are peanut butter, gooseberry, passion fruit, and raspberry) and cost R5, and miniature cakes cost R40. The emphasis is on freshness, and flavours and choices change regularly. The häzz cappuccino did not taste good because it was served in a paper cup, but understandable, given the take-away concept.
Cafeteria, 20 Jarvis Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town. Tel (021) 418-2830. www.martinsenekal.com. (The website has mainly photographs of Senekal’s cakes, beautifully shot, reflecting the range of creative ingredient combinations and beautiful ‘packaging’. There is no information about Cafeteria on the website). Monday – Friday 9h00 – 15h00.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage