Jimmy Killed the Prawns but what of Caffe Milano on Kloof Street

Whites.  Before my charming and dapper friend Jimmy Manyi introduces forced removals and relocates you to the dusty streets of Polokwane there is one thing you have to do.  (I’m not so stupid as to reveal that activity immediately but don’t worry I will after a couple of paragraphs of my usual drivel.) 

Caffe Milano
+27 (0)21 426 5566
153 Kloof St
Cape Town
5/5 stars

If you are lucky enough to be given the choice, pick Limpompo’s capital, as our Freudian-slip prone politicians pronounce Limpopo, because it is slightly less dusty than Nkandla, the other option.  Foodies there is also a Spur Steak Ranch in Polokwane unlike in the Zululand hamlet, despite the development of a shopping mall and a maternity hospital there for Jacob Zuma’s wives. You will have to settle for Kentucky Freud Chicken – mother-fuckin’ good – or a shisa nyama.

Jimmy will introduce an Aryan pencil-test and those sans straight blond hair will likely be consigned to Nkandla.  (Share tip: buy stock in the Krok twins hair-straightening peroxide empire.  Word on the street is that they have also developed a pigment machine to be called Black Like Me.)

Polokwane over Nkandla because the hunting is better in the bushveldt.  You will unfortunately have to give up your beloved blush in summer and pinot noir in winter and turn to Klippies en Koke.  Unless you want your hunting rifle turned on you.  On the positive side you will become a senior government official with a fatter salary than the parsimonious pay in Cape Town.  This due to the under-representation of white management in the north’s civil service. 

All is not lost though – if you apply for a dompas from Cape Tourism’s Mariette du Toit-Thunderbolt you will be allowed two weeks pass in the Cape during its mild, dry ‘secret season’ winters. 

Take a trip out to Jimmy’s newest wine estate La Motte.  Here you will find the former winemaker Hein Koegelenberg tending to the vines after a punishing February of picking grapes in the 45 degree sun.  Use the back entrance for your Valiant.  Hein might even share some of his dop (system) dooswyn with you.  Back in the manor house Jimmy will be receiving opera appreciation lessons from former owner Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg.  After that she will be teaching him the difference between steen and chenin.  When she isn’t making Jimmy koeksisters in the kitchen, or dusting his Pierneefs. 

Okay I lied that is more than a couple of paragraphs.  The ‘one’ thing you have to do before you are relocated to a white spot is: brunch at Caffe Milano. 

Caffe Milano, located next to Manna Epicure, opens out onto a great little shaded verandah.  Inside the walls are a tinted beige, decorated with a shelf of gleaming colourful coffee machines.  Fruity pastries wink at you from behind the glass counter.  The current fashion for dainty picture perfect tartlets is beauty before taste.  Is this the case here? 

The comfy wooden chairs are shaped to fit arse and back and the designer Carthage who knows about these things likes the rubber stoppers under the feet: 

“Getting these small details right shows real class.  When you move the chair it is as if you are moving it on a cork floor.  No scraping or squeaking.” 

To start I chase a good Americano down with a refreshing beetrooty orange and melon frulatto (that’s fruit juice to the rest of us). 

Then it’s bloody good eggs benedict, executed perfectly, from soft poaching to crispy bacon and the Hollandaise sauce.  The buttery sauce is a medium caloried one (well for a love handle on a plate sauce at least).  Neither health-pluck runny nor so rich that it’s simply a private indulgence, like climbing into the cupboard to suck on an entire can of condensed milk.  But what really sets it apart is the sour dough toast, just a hint of curdle to pare down the luxuriance. 

Other breakfast dishes include a fry-up of course; muesli with Greek yoghurt and goji berries (now that is a health food I do like); croissants, including with creamy mozzarella and tomato; bombolone (a Tuscan doughnut with filling or a large bomb); and cannoncino (a roll of crisp pastry filled with cream).

Lunch options include pukkah aged Parma ham and melon; a salad of smoked mozzarella with Morgenster olive oil; a roast chicken salad; smoked tuna; and a spinach and ricotta lasagna.  But the best sounding of all is La Tartare de Manzo: chopped raw fillet, egg, onion, olive oil, capers and parsley.

France, Austria and Italy have huge reputations for their sweets, be they pastries or cakes but the best pastry I have ever eaten is a humble Pourageesh one here.  Pasteis de nata, a little baked tart with flakey pastry filled with the comfort of custard.  The best bit is the burnt skin of custard on top.  Reminds me of my grandmother’s giant bowl of baked custard, though I think that had burnt sugar drizzled over it.  Men, buy your women a surprise pastry take out here.  Even if she ain’t of the I R Cupcake crowd, it will work better than a diamond.  And remember the downside of diamonds – they are forever.

A good medium-sized wine list that befits a café too.

With apologies to the pint-sized, high-heeled, Irish tax avoider:  There has been a lot of talk about this restaurant, maybe too much talk.  This is not a rebel restaurant.  Me: there hasn’t been enough talk about this restaurant.  In short. Go.

Explanatory Notes

Dooswyn is box wine.  In a heinous crime of past white rule grape pickers were paid, partly in wine, though in those days it was a papsak, or a sack of wine.  We live with the tragic consequences today. 

Shisa Nyama is the Zulu term for a butchery with braai fires alongside.  You buy the meat and do the cooking yourself, along with a loaf of bread and a litre of Fanta at the café next door.  Then you eat it all on the street.  My former boss Mzwai Faniso took me to one of the most famous ones at the Noord Street taxi rank in Joubert Park, Joburg. 

An Afrikaner farmer from the racist Platteland’s branded posters of his meat cuts adorn the walls.  It is an irony not lost on the chattering classes.  But the millions of black Africans who catch public transport don’t give a shit.  It is simply fine meat.  Gas grills and extractor fans have replaced wood barbecues and fresh air.  But you still eat on your feet outside.

Jimmy Manyi is a greedy racist endeavouring to build a black elite by short-cut.  In his spare time he is also the cabinet’s spokesperson.  By the way he is a nice fellow to chat to about anything other than the above. 

This is the second time wunderkind Jimmy has starred in eatcapetown.  Read the other one here: Carne, which is a kinda upmarket shisa nyama.

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee and pastries.  Closed Monday.

 5/5 stars over brunch

Tom Robbins
Posted March 4. 2011

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2 Responses to “Jimmy Killed the Prawns but what of Caffe Milano on Kloof Street”

  1. Chris Brunette says:

    Very enjoyable read, thanks Tom!

  2. Rich Hall says:

    Hmmmmmmm… very nice Mr Robbins.
    Biting Restaurant reviews…
    With a twist!
    Now I can surf for great eateries and quell my Hayibo withdrawal in one fell swoop!(Meant in the original sense.)*

    *Shakespeare either coined the phrase, or gave it circulation, in Macbeth, 1605:
    MACDUFF: [on hearing that his family and servants have all been killed]

    All my pretty ones?
    Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
    What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
    At one fell swoop

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