Café Paradiso

Madame Zingara magic on Kloof Street

Under a canopy of trees, rough wooden tables groan under the weight of wine and bread. In winter, the picture changes to roaring fires and the smell of baking wafts through the cosy, sprawling house. The imagery I’m conjuring is not of a dream home, but of a restaurant on Cape Town’s Kloof Street – a touch of country in the middle of the city.

Café Paradiso is part of the Madame Zingara empire, a dynasty made famous by its collection of somewhat odd, always eccentric, but definitely entertaining restaurants and cafés.

Head honcho, Richard Griffin, seems to have something of a magic touch. All of his restaurants are infused with a playful wonderment, and Café Paradiso is no different.

Generous plates in a cosy atmosphere

Our canvas today is the one with the roaring fire. We’re seated in a nook lined with bottles of red wine. Very cosy indeed.

The menu is a tempting array of light meals, such as homemade pastas and risottos, to the more serious grilled sirloin with Café de Paris butter  and roasted chicken dishes. There are antipasti platters too, and decadent breakfasts, from French toast drenched in maple syrup to poached eggs and hollandaise—if that sounds too rich for you, then try ‘the really cheap breakfast’ at R30.

But back to our lunch, our waitress waves her wand, and we order the specials she recommends. To start, we split a warm Portobello mushroom salad. My main dish is seared tuna in a pistachio crust with pan-fried baby potatoes and buttery leeks. My partner’s dish looks like autumn on a plate: pork neck steak, all russet pink, with thin sweet potato crisps balancing like fallen leaves.

We end our warming meal, with the perfect combination of hot and cold; gooey chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream.

Children are not only welcome, they’re invited

Café Paradiso makes a point of being family friendly, and I don’t mean in a horrible, ‘crayons on paper placemats’ kind of way, their approach is unique. On the menu there’s a section called ‘kids’ projects’.So while the parents wine and dine, the offspring can get their hands dirty in the bakery making things like pizza, ginger bread men, cup-cakes and cookies. The projects run daily until 8pm, and costs R45.

So bundle up the kids and come breathe some country air—right in the heart of the city.

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By Malu Lambert

Tip: There’s a festive atmosphere here; so put Paradiso on the list as a place for the celebratory moments in life, whether it’s a kitchen tea or a birthday party.

Bill: Starters clock in at R40 to R70,  and mains from R70 to R120. The specials of the day are often more expensive.

Café Paradiso
110 Kloof Street | Cape Town| +27 (0)21 423 8653
Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am - 10pm, Sunday 10am - 3pm.

Madame Zingara’s magical collection

Theatre of Dreams: dinner and a show that sees a sumptuous feast paired with stunning feats.

Skollywood, otherwise known as The Bombay Bicycle Club (famous for ribs and tequila shots).

Then there’s Sidewalk Café and Café Mozart, both gorgeous cafés that seethe with regulars, and delight with simple, moreish food.

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