Starling's Cafe: Shabby Chic Coffee and Breakfasts

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Starling's Cafe is a quirky little coffee shop at 94 Belvedere Road in Claremont, Cape Town. From the outside it looks like any other house, but when you walk inside you see beautiful white-washed wooden panels, a selection of pretty tables dotted here-and-there, and shabby chic décor replete with mis-matched roses, watering cans and chalk-boards. It was the ideal escape from the torrential rain outside!

We (myself and my wedding-dress-making-and-expert-baker-aunt Robyn) went there at around 11am midweek, and I was alarmed at how very busy it was. We joined the queue at the door and waited to be seated. I've been here a few times before so I know already to look out for the muffins on the table (banana and dark chocolate is a particularly good flavour, and I hear that their savoury spinach and feta muffins are equally good for those who don't lean towards sweet treats). I also know that their coffee is fab, and their tea is equally lovely and served in beautiful glass pots - and there is a large variety to choose from, too! We had a lot to consider as we waited for our table.

We were finally seated at a charming little table in the middle of the coffee shop. It was formerly a house and, as such, it comprises various rooms that have been converted for coffee-shop purposes. Everything is very charming: the art work on the walls is vaguely oriental, each table has its own vase for roses and olive oil jars, and there are lots of things to see - the chalkboard menu, the suspended watering can used as a pot for white roses, wicker-woven hearts.

There is a standard menu available every day with additional extras on the cake stand area and advertised along with today's specials. It is quite dark inside the main 'room' of the cafe, so after getting very acquainted with the menu up-very-close (and promptly setting it on fire for getting it too close to the single tea light candle on the table!) we had decided on our order. Unfortunately banana and dark chocolate muffins were all gone so we opted for something a bit more traditional: I had French Toast Brioche with cinnamon and sugar, pecan nuts and syrup.

Robyn opted for the traditional breakfast with two poached eggs with parmesan, basil pesto and wholewheat toast, and added in a side of button mushrooms.

Dining at Starling's Cafe is always a pleasant affair but this time it was very rushed and we felt that we had to leave almost as soon as we had begun. Ordinarily the beautiful outside area is open and full of tables but, as I mentioned earlier, it was positively thunderous and rainy outside so that wasn't an option. It's good to see that this little cafe is still doing so well - almost two-and-a-half years since I first visited and had my pick of the tables! Nowadays it's a little pricey and very busy, but if you're lucky enough to get there at a quiet time and find a nice nook, you're in for a treat.

You should definitely pop in if you're ever in Cape Town and be sure to get there early to take advantage of their slow-brewed teas and comfortable sitting rooms. Do try and get a table in the outer room offering up views of the garden, and be sure to keep a look out for the banana and chocolate muffins. If that fails, I'm sure we can find ourselves a delicious recipe somewhere.

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