The Sidewalk Cafe, Cape Town

I begin with an old favourite. The Sidewalk Cafe in Vredehoek, Cape Town is an intimate, quirky spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The restaurant really is on a street corner, giving the interior a remarkably cosmopolitan feel. Tables on the street side are great during the day, and blankets will keep the breeze off on a summer’s eve. The decor is cute and somewhat tongue in cheek, with painted white kitchen utensils hanging from the ceiling and mismatched tablecloths complementing the kitch aprons worn by delightfully funky wait staff.

As for the food, there is something for everyone on the menu, which changes from time to time, while old favourites are always available. Veggie friendly breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and soups satisfy the day-bug. For dinner, the creamy red coconut curry is deliciously spicy and peanutty, and never fails to impress. The chef is happy to alter dishes slightly on request, and I’ve twice enjoyed the leek, pea and mint risotto with goats cheese balls sans the pancetta. This dish is slightly rich, so it’s great if you’re ordering it as one of a few things to share. Daily specials sometimes include the odd vegetarian dish, so do ask about those. The only dish I’ve had off this menu that I wouldn’t recommend is the Portabella mushroom stuffed with sundried tomato pesto and mozzarella. I thought this was really just a big, poorly seasoned mushroom smothered in far too much pesto. Not only is this uncreative, it is not very filling.

If you’re a fish fan, that’s one thing Sidewalk really does well. Ask about the linefish of the day – I’m always impressed with the way the chef gets his fish perfectly succulent and complements it with something interesting, like wasabi mash. I’ve had great Cape Salmon here. The fish and chips are another must. Chunky, strips of hake fillet battered in the lightest and crispiest crunch come in a delightful little bucket, accompanied by potato wedges and homemade tatare sauce.

All in all, this is a great little restaurant that offers just enough for the vegetarian to keep you coming back until you’ve tried everything on the menu, and then again and again to repeat your old favourites. The service is impecable and fun, and the food is reliably delicious. Don’t forget to book, because it’s a busy little street corner, and you don’t want to hit peak traffic unprepared.

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