Malay Monday @ The Charles Café Local, organic and delicious meals in De Waterkant


It’s hard to put a finger on what I liked most about The Charles Café. Is it the cosy ambience in the quaint De Waterkant village, the brimming smiles and super friendly service of the waiters, the down-to-earth, tasty meals made with love or the fact that the food is sourced locally and mainly organic? I guess it’s a combination thereof.

We meet Justine Burger, the owner and manager of The Charles Café, for a lovely chat and to try their new themed evening, #MalayMonday.

Justine’s story starts some 30 years ago up in the north. Having lived most of her life in Johannesburg and London, Justine had succumbed to the fast-paced lifestyle of a big city. She didn’t pay too much attention to what she was putting into her body and worked in the stressful retail and food serving industries. But eventually, the stress caught up with her and her health took a severe toll. At that time, she met her partner Mark, a Swiss-South African, who introduced her to the idea of eating wholesome, organic food to regain her health.

In 2014, they moved to Cape Town and when a friend, the manager of The Charles Guesthouse, showed them the place, the idea to open a café serving healthy, honest food was born. An idea that took shape in May 2016, when The Charles Café opened its doors at the corner of Waterkant and Dixon Street.

When it comes to sitting, guests are spoilt for choice. On a warm summer’s day you can sit outside in the shade of the big tree, on the stoop or, my personal favourite, on the roof deck with great views of the city centre (especially at night with all the city lights). In winter, a crackling fire is going to keep you warm inside.

But that is not the only choice guests are spoilt with. Just have a look at their menu online. The Charles Café serves breakfast (until 11:30!), lunch, sweet treats and dinner, with a fair selection of coffee specialities, loose-leaf teas, wine and other alcoholic drinks. In addition to your standard breakfast dishes, you can order bacon & leek risotto with a poached egg for example. Lunch starts at 12:00 pm and whether you are in the mood for a salad, open ciabatta sandwich, soup, fish, burgers or steak, you’ll find the right meal. Vegetarians will also find numerous dishes (not just salad) to their liking. Meals are freshly prepared, so you shouldn’t be in a rush, but instead enjoy the view and your company.

The food is sourced locally and organic options are used as much as availability permits.

A detailed list of their local suppliers such as Houtbay Coffee, Lady Bonin’s Tea parlour, Honest Chocolate, Farmer Angus (beef), Usana Farm (eggs and wine) and Woodstock Bakery is given on their menu.

The story of the Malay Mondays started with a local guest having breakfast at The Charles Café. This Cape Malay lady commented on the history of the neighbourhood and the food that used to be eaten here. Justine, always eager to give new things a try, researched Cape Malay dishes (not very common in Gauteng) and decided to share this unique and intriguing cuisine, so closely intertwined with the history of Cape Town, with others.

#MalayMonday launched on 3 April 2017 and has been a success story from the beginning.

Five different typical Cape Malay dishes and three desserts are on the menu, but the taster (a little bit of everything) is a very popular and filling option.

Booking is highly recommended! Please note that the food is not halal.

But Justine and Mark have more plans up their sleeves and the idea of a Tavolata, a communal table, is in the making. We are very excited about this idea as it is so close to the Food and Chatter concept, so watch this space!

So, whether you in town and want some breakfast or a yummy lunch, meet a friend for coffee, have a brief business meeting or enjoy a leisurely dinner with your family, The Charles Café offers you all plus great views and the warm smiles of the waiters will definitely brighten your day!

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Alexandra is a tourist guide, writer, translator for German & English, improviser and environmentalist with all her heart and soul. She enjoys experimental vegetarian/vegan cooking with high emphasis on organic and locally grown food. She is also a tea connoisseur (read: total tea snob). If she isn't hiking up some mountain, enjoying a glass of wine at sunset or getting down and dirty in her little garden, she is happiest driving down an unknown road and ending up at a place that turns out to be a still undiscovered gem.
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