Bubble Wrap: Cafe Paradiso
Cafe Paridiso, 110 Kloof Street, Cape Town, 021 423 8653
“Kitchen open from 8am to 10 am 6 ½ days a week and the bakery never sleeps”
Madame Zingara has waved her magic wand over another long, lost Capetonian eatery. Cafe Paradiso such a beautiful venue, who had lost it’s sparkle and didn’t meet it’s enormous potential. Under the previous owners, one always hoped that it had just been an off day when you went there you wanted to go back due to the awesome setting, but that alone.
Now with it’s new lease of life, and Madame Zingara’s creative imagination, you never want to leave. You walk into Madame Zingara’s wonderland- almost like an Italian Santa’s Grotto where immediately you feel warm and nostalgic. She has, yet again, created an atmosphere like no other but yet so familiar. Cafe Paradiso sets the ultimate Italian atmosphere emphasised by dim romantic lighting and a bustling sound filled with laughter and happiness. The icing on the cassata is the bakery at the back and homemade pasta area with tables set amongst.
The staff are very well trained- almost over the top, a slight fakeness in some, or one. Especially when we were deserted for a local celebrity. But still very friendly and accommodating. On a night when the ‘Cape Doctor’ was an uninvited guest, we were sat in front of the door and as the patrons rolled in, everything from our table circulated around the restaurant they noticed our pain and as soon as another table became available we were moved.
I was so excited to divulge into this much talked about, mouth watering, menu; expecting to oooh and aaah over the delicious options, I was rather disappointed that nothing stood out or slightly tempted me; nor my companions. I resorted in asking, the slightly coy, waitress what she suggested; both suggestions came from the special menu. The suggestions were devoured with pleasure. Obviously you can’t ask the prices on the special recommendations as not to look like a cheap skate, so I later found her suggestions to be a lot more expensive than anything else on the menu. Good up selling chickie!!!
So to start with, I happily took the recommendation of the Springbok Carpaccio with rocket, parmesan perfectly pairing with pomegranate dressing (R55); which was as it should be; out of this world! For mains, also advised, I went for Cafe Paradiso’s ‘Surf and Turf’ (R180): Lamb cutlets and prawns served with a medley of beans and chunky salsa. I love the idea of surf and turf but get so involved in the turf I forget about the surf! This time I acknowledged the prawns but unimpressed, devoured the perfectly cooked lamb cutlets as preference. My friend; Mr Spice, who also chose the same sublime special, would rather his meat dead for a couple of weeks then see blood on his plate, wasn’t happy with his beautifully cooked cutlets. I agree they should be served the medium rare but the customer must be given the choice to how he would like it. The Organic Sirloin with black mushroom, rocket and parmesan (R135) looked like it should have a sauce or jus of sorts but was so tender, that in it’s own juices it was succulent enough.
The dessert options are always difficult for me; I’d rather another starter then search for a sweet tooth. Sensing my despondence to the dessert menu but desperation for port, our new waiter suggested he tailor make a cheese board for me. N.B I think all restaurants should have a generous cheese board on offer; if it doesn’t then the waiters must be able to accommodate in such an effortless way. The latter being the case at Cafe Paradiso.
The bill didn’t come by unnoticed; but not unreasonable for a stunning and thoroughly enjoyable evening; as Madame Zinagara makes magic happen once again; this being no exception to her trail of decadent and delicious beauty.
I "heart" you Madame Zingara as does my fulfilled stomach. Until next week... adios.