I’m often pleasantly surprised at how Cape Town supports ventures which are very out of the ordinary. I first encountered Birds Cafe a few years ago when a friend of mine was using it on Friday evenings as a tapas restaurant. I found the place to be quite eccentric. There were no pictures on the walls, the tables were just long wooden boards on trestles and the chairs were plastic crates turned on their ends. The kitchen was separated from the dining area merely by a curtain. I was not convinced that Cape Town’s notoriously fickle crowd would linger there long with the absense of luxury. In fact, Birds was basically the complete opposite of Manna which was doing very well.
My second encounter with Birds Cafe was recently. I was trying to find a suitable venue for a Just Add Heart event. The event was a presentation by Abalimi and Harvest of Hope, so I thought somewhere that was organic oriented would be nice. That was one thing I knew about Birds, the simple decor was an extension of their belief in keeping food simple and natural. I phoned them and spoke to Heike (the daughter in the mother-daughter owner team) who was very keen to host us, which was very kind of her as they normally close at 4pm and our presentation was set for 6:30pm.
At the JAH event I had some of their homely soup and bread which was fabulous and having spotted the breakfasts on my earlier reconnaissance mission, I knew I needed to have breakfast here pronto. So this last Saturday I popped in with a friend to have some breakfast. The decor has not changed much except for different cushions on the crate chairs and some light fittings. Birds is one of the few places that offer shared tables as the only option. They have about 6 tables that seat 8 and everyone just finds an open space and sits there. They also have a long dining room table which was being used for a baby shower that morning and it was wonderfully tablescaped.
We found ourselves a table next to the window which also turned out to be next to the speaker. After wondering for a while where the birds were that we could hear, we realised the sounds were being played out of the speakers. We surveyed the menu stuck to the wall and I ended up going for the scrambled eggs with bacon, mushroom and tomato (R42.50) and my partner had the creamed eggs with mushroom and tomato (R25.50). Strangely they both came as omlettes. The menu did hint with comments like ‘Birds Style’ and ‘like an omlette’, so we weren’t completely surprised. They were both delicious and generous portions. Toast is extra though (R6), I believe their bread comes from Knead. I had a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (R10) and a coffee (R12), my partner had a pot of tea (R20).
When we arrived at about 10am the place was quite empty, but it was full when we left, so it had a nice vibe. The service was a little slow, but I don’t think it’s the kind of place you should go in a hurry anyway. It’s a relaxing, homely, unpretentious place, which I recommend.
127 Bree Street, CBD
Tel: 426 2534
Birds Cafe was recently sold and reopened after some changes had been made. So I decided to stop by for breakfast and see what had been done.
The major change is that the curtain which used to separate the kitchen, has been removed and replaced with a stepped wooden wall which allows visual access to a large portion of the kitchen. There are no more tweet sounds playing in the background and the crockery is a mixture of modern and handmade.
The major elements such as the trestle tables, and crate chairs with cushions on top, are still there. But the place looks a lot better with funky design elements like upside down steel buckets for light fittings.
Overall I would say that visually there have been major improvements.
The food is still pretty good. I had the poached eggs with bacon and beans on toast (R40) which was pretty good and the eggs were beautifully poached. My dining partner had the cooked organic oats (R25), served with cranberries and honey.
We loved the freshly squeezed orange juice (R15) and the coffee wasn’t bad either (R16).
They have plans to open in the evenings and they also run a catering business from the same building.
I’d say Birds is still well worth a visit.