Superette, café in the gentrifying dodgy end of Woodstock

This trendy joint knows when to be size zero and when to be size sixteen, when to be an emo boy in skinny jeans and when to be super size.  This adaptability isn’t immediately apparent on entering Superette.  Indeed the first impression is quite the opposite – filling me with apprehension of lean and tasteless fodder. 

+27 (0)21 802 5525
218 Albert Rd
Cape Town

 You are greeted by a table containing a bowl of muesli and yoghurt; and wheat-free muffins.  Then there is the menu behind the shop counter – the most expensive item is a salad (R50).  It doesn’t even have chicken in it.  Although I don’t recall that ingredients are exclusively organic, a feeling of, fat-free, seasonal, air-mile-free food is created.  With quinoa on the side.

Then my eyes scroll down the big black board menu, stopping dead in their tracks when I reach the pork belly on toasted ciabata.  Pork belly versus raw vegetables.  No contest.  The arrival of its fatty-piggy highness blows me away.  They’ve kept one of the finest and cheapest culinary traditions alive: three strips of the crunchiest pork crackling on the side.  The meat in the sandwich is trimmed of much of the flab but retains a juicy greasiness, cut by the sharper sweetness of apple, cooked slowly to ensure it isn’t too tart.  On the day one of Cape Town’s great meals at R45.

This simple sandwich reminds me of one of Michael Pollan’s* 64 food rules of eating wisely: “Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.”  Of course Superette’s isn’t technically home-cooked but one suspects it is devoid of frying in repeatedly re-used oil, preservatives, excessive salt and sugar as well as other features of big corporation food. 

The aforementioned winter salad may be the priciest item on the menu but viewed through the glass cabinet beneath the counter it looks both fresh and filling.  Bowls of ingredients that include chick peas; and ribbons of pasta with veggies suggest it is far more substantial than traditional rabbit food. 

The coffee is good and my partner, who works nearby, wolfs down the toasted sour dough with avo, rocket and cream cheese sarmie (R30) almost every day.  Other options include borscht (the beetroot soup made from an organic plant today); and another meat choice, the bratwurst sandwich with mustard and pickles. There is also an all day breakfast.  Another sign that one size doesn’t fit all.  And they know it. 

The interior a bright and sunny retro take on a post-war corner keffy.  They also retail some fresh produce and tableware.                                                                                  

Superette also made a cheeky announcement here that they would be closed for a day due to a planned Eskom power stoppage. 

Closed at night and on Sundays.

4/5 stars.  Just remember this isn’t really a restaurant. 

Superette is owned by the same people that operate the Neighbourgoods food market at the nearby Biscuit Mill.  Read about the area in the intro to this review of La Mouette

Nearby Bromwell have taken gentrification of Woodstock a bit too far with a doorman wearing a coat and tails.  They also insist that you hand over your ID book before entering their apparently posh upstairs boutique mall.  Is this legal?  I hope they are burgled blind to teach them a lesson in privacy violation. 

Bread the café-bakery downstairs, where you don’t have to hand over your ID, do an almond croissant like no-one else in this country, according to a friend who lived in continental Europe for years.  And then there is also Amadoda Braai, which looks like an upmarket shisa nyamacome-shebeen** in the still super sleazy are next to the railway line.  When it comes to night-time Woodstock and neighbouring Salt River revert to dodginess.  

Read Brandon Edmonds’ great review of Birds Boutique Café in Bree Street, which has a vaguely similar vibe to Superette, on Mahala.  (This is not so much a review of the café but rather of the customers.)

* Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan 

** Shisa nyama (loosely Zulu for hot meat).  Originally a butchery providing braais for you to barbeque your own meat, often near a transport hub

Tom Robbins
Posted July 30, 2010

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