Tale of two coffee shops

Spicy chicken livers and toast. The toast was supposed to have garlic.

Spicy chicken livers and toast. The toast was supposed to have garlic.

Published Dec 10, 2023


Arts Café

Where: KZNSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood

Open: Tuesday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm, Saturday 8.30am to 4pm, Sunday 8.30am to 3pm.

Call: 031 277 1702

The Glass Guy and I popped into the Arts Café for breakfast last weekend. I wanted to visit KZNSA Gallery to look at the BuzzArt exhibition.

I felt it was disappointing this year, and overly expensive. Admittedly, we were looking at everything through the gloom of load shedding, but little jumped out. A couple of beautifully fine ceramic pots, some intricate art glass, a portrait I liked until I saw the R20 000 price tag. But little to get the pulse racing.

The coffee, however, did precisely that. The Glass Guy ordered a Spanish latte (R43) on the coffee menu. It was spiced up with cinnamon and bitter orange. Too milky for me ‒ lattes always are ‒ the flavours with the coffee were good. He really enjoyed it. It was a hot day, so I enjoyed a coffee milkshake. We were happy to sit outside under the trees and catch up.

The menu is simple, there’s little space in which to work. There are any number of ways with eggs for breakfast, plus many light meals. Salads include Harissa chicken, niçoise, and couscous. There are sandwiches on rye, a no-frills burger, falafel wrap, and chicken strips. A specials menu takes in cannelloni with beef ragu, prawn pasta, calamari and chorizo, spicy bean enchiladas, and butter chicken. There’s a beer and burger special for a reasonable R100.

Café breakfast at the Arts Café – eggs, bacon, mushrooms and roast tomatoes.

The most interesting breakfast of courgette cake, corn and red peppers, rocket, avo salsa and basil pesto, to which you could add an egg or bacon, was off the menu because they had run out of courgettes. Odd: Woolworths is down the road. Instead, I had the café breakfast (R85) which was enjoyable. Well, bacon and eggs are always enjoyable.

The Glass Guy had the spicy chicken livers (R65) with garlic butter toast which he enjoyed. Not sure what happened to the garlic on the toast though.

Afterwards, we decided to try their flapjacks topped with butter and syrup (R50). These were on the heavy side, and there was little sign of the butter they so desperately needed, or some cream even. Just overly sweet from all the syrup.

Flapjacks and syrup, unfortunately without any sign of butter, which would have helped.

Food: 3



The Bill: R281

Manna Café

Where: Corner of Helen Joseph and Bulwer Road, Glenwood

Open: Daily

Call: 076 352 4262

I popped in this week for breakfast at Manna Café, also in Glenwood. Many will have seen it spilling out onto the pavement on Saturdays when live music is played. It looks very lively. Last Saturday Robin Opperman held his Artemis exhibition in the restaurant. It’s a gathering of people who make interesting and creative things. There were some interesting chandeliers and glass works and art for sale.

I knew Manna had something to do with Moses’s wanderings through the desert, or the dessert as I once wrote at school, only for my English teacher to take umbrage. Oops, 40 years wading through the sticky, creamy stuff couldn’t have been much fun. I looked it up. It was food miraculously supplied to the Israelites while desperate in the desert. So it’s food as sustenance rather than the Greek ambrosia, food for the gods, that implies heavenly treats.

And that pretty much sums up Manna. The fare is basic but comforting and inexpensive. There are brekkie rolls filled with either eggs, bacon or cheese, or all three. For a man-sized hunger you can double these up. There’s a quiche, a few burgers and a variety of ways with chicken schnitzel.

Service is friendly, the atmosphere decidedly homespun. I enjoyed a cappuccino (R28). They use a blend called Bluff Bru which has unusual dark chocolate and cocoa notes to it. I enjoyed it.

They can do any number of traditional breakfast options. I opted for their full breakfast of three rashers of bacon, two eggs to order (sunny side up), sausage, roast tomatoes, caramelized onions, toast and chips (R95). I asked them to lose the chips. It was exactly as one wanted. Although note for future: when serving eggs, it’s better to serve them on a hot plate.

Full breakfast at Manna Cafe, so more eggs, but without the chips

I enjoyed it and would have liked to linger for a second cuppa, but didn’t have time. Instead I took home a packet of the choc chip cookies they specialise in. They were busy making a new batch while I was there.

With coffee the next morning, I attacked those biscuits. They were both manna and ambrosia.

Food: 3

Service: 3

Ambience: 3

The Bill: R168 (including cookies)

Independent on Saturday