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The Drawing Room Café and Art Gallery in Observatory
Nibble on eats while admiring striking works of art at this multipurpose Southern Suburbs coffee shop
A blank canvas.
That’s the first thing you face before beginning a sketch or painting. And then you fill it up – with lines, squiggles, doodles, splashes of colour – and it comes to life. This is the process I’d like you to keep in mind as I tell you the story of The Drawing Room, a new unpretentious café and gallery that has joined the bustling creative scene in the Southern Cape Town suburb of Observatory.
The tale starts with Durban-born husband-and-wife team Derek and Candice Allison, who, after spending a few years in London, returned to Mzansi, combined their areas of expertise (he’s a photographer and she’s a curator) and their interest in art, found an empty space full of potential and slowly imbued it with colour and personality to ultimately create The Drawing Room, a very special multipurpose space.
“The name of the café has a double meaning,” explains Candice. “In Victorian times a drawing room was a part of the house where people would play games, have a drink and relax. But to us, it also means a place where you can actually come to draw.”
In line with the first interpretation of the name, visitors are, indeed, invited to unwind and enjoy some leisure time at this eatery, and they can indulge in a range of hot and cold beverages and tuck into a small selection of fare while they do so. More specifically, guests can munch on homemade toasted sandwiches with fillings like brie, grape and avocado or pulled chicken and coleslaw; lactose-free muffins (there’s a banana, cinnamon and coconut cream option); heavenly cupcakes (think beetroot, dark chocolate and cream cheese) and more. And the best part? All of the eats draw inspiration from the couple’s history, experiences, travels and passions to make for an eclectic yet simple offering that complements what the rest of the establishment has to offer.
As far as the second meaning of the name goes, well, part of the space is actually dedicated to showcasing the work of those who draw (and paint and sculpt and sketch).Some creatives that have already worked with The Drawing Room include Maria Lebedeva (illustrator), Lucy Stuart-Clark (ceramicist) and Stoan Galela (dancer). The events side is also jam-packed: hosting everything from exhibitions and Show and Tell evenings to film screenings, this multipurpose space provides people with a colourful palette of activities to choose from.
Speaking of colour, the venue’s walls are adorned with a constantly changing array of works, and the continual evolution of the display means the space is always transforming. Otherwise, aesthetically, traces of the couple’s story can be found in almost every corner of the eatery-cum-gallery. Some walls are draped with green, brown and white bunting, which was made by Candice and her grandmother for her DIY wedding (the pair tied the knot in 2014), shelves are lined with Candice and Derek’s book collection and a few board games (available for anyone to use), a fireplace glows in the belly of the space (hello winter) and the window sills are laced with tiny cacti in teapots and zinc cups (Candice’s little treasures), making The Drawing Room incredibly personal.
Et voilà! The endearing aesthetics of the shop come together with the owners’ tale, the food and the art to fill up that once-blank room and create something that is a work of art in its own right. And one that certainly deserves to be enjoyed and admired.
Tip: The Drawing Room hosts a Show & Tell evening in collaboration with Open Studio entertainment every second Friday of the month. The event aims to introduce Capetonians to up-and-coming local artists, and it also features a local DJ, drinks and eats. For more information, visit the gallery’s Facebook page or call +27 (0) 82 672 0515.
The Bill: The eatery’s prices are quite reasonable. Breakfast items cost between R25 and R35, toasted sandwiches range from R30 to R40 and baked goods are priced between R12 and R16. Cold beverages ring in between R8 and R18, while hot drinks cost between R13 and R18.
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 8am – 5pm; Thursday – Friday: 8am – 10pm; Saturday: 9am – 10pm.
87 Station Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0) 82 672 0515
by Dudu Luthuli
Planning an overnight stay in the area? Have a look at our write-up about African Heart Backpackers in Observatory.
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