LA BOCA, CORNER OF LAWRENCE AND CLYDE IN CENTRAL
IT'S BEEN a couple of months since MyWeekend last embarked on one of our cafe cruises and so we saddled up this week to sample some notable nosh (that was the hope).
The MO for our covert mission was simple: Grab a cappuccino at each spot, followed by lunch and a sweet treat before hot-footing it back to the office, ideally in under an hour.
I was joined by my husband and fellow food blogger, Salvelio, who helped me assess coffee, food, service and value at each cafe.
Our first destination was La Boca, which seems to have blasted into Central like a huge breath of fresh air.
La Boca is Spanish for "mouth" and this place, opened by Jo'burg "import" Garth Metrovich in August, left ours hanging open. It has all of the chic appeal of a trendy De Waterkant spot, but none of the rip-off prices. Garth has also put some serious effort into renovating this historic building from the 1890s.
Breakfast was R20 and most of the mains were just R30; we felt like breaking out in song. At these prices, what would the quality be like, we wondered. Turns out there was no reason to worry – far from it.
The coffee: The cappuccinos (R15) were piping hot and intense in flavour without being bitter. There must be a barista who knows his (or her) stuff at this joint. Wish we could have found out what brand they use but the waitress wouldn't divulge it, even under threat of torture.
The food: Salvelio ordered tempura battered hake and chips (R30). The fish was a whopper – thick cut, very fresh and with a gorgeously crisp coating. The fish had been fried at just the right temperature so that it hadn't absorbed any icky oil. The chips, too, were golden and appeared hand-cut – how refreshing not to get a pile of pale taties. My meatball pasta (R30) was another winner. The linguine was al dente, the meatballs (loads of them) really tasty and the tomato and basil sauce had that wonderful sweetness you only get from cooking it nice and slow. You could easily have paid R70 for this plate in any good Italian restaurant. The sweets:We shared a huge hunk of carrot cake (R15). It was moist and heavy and the best carrot cake we've had in PE in ages. The sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and linseed over the cream cheese frosting also made it stand out.
Service and timing: Our waitress, Monalisa, was just darling and really had the personal touch. We were in and out of there in less than an hour.
The damage: Our bill came to R105 excluding tip – practically unheard of nowadays. And yes, we can't wait to go back.