It’s a bitch finding brunch-time parking at Italian eatery/patisserie Caffe Milano, probably because it’s in the heart of Brunchland... near Melissa’s and next to Manna at the top of Kloof St.
But as soon as I walked into the restaurant, my formerly flustered self started calming down. It might have been the beautiful cakes and pastries on display, the buttery smell in the air or the relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere. But it was probably the groaning table of fabulous flaky deliciousness by recent Milan-export and Michelin-star-trained pastry chef Andrea Lecchi, where I quickly pulled up a seat.
Flaky croissants, buttery biscuits (some made with ground boiled eggs, how interesting?), pasties de nata... yup, I had one of everything. (Okay, I had three of the hazelnut meringue biscuits. But you would have too.)
We were told that Italian patisserie is lower in fat and sugar than its French counterpart, and you can tell, although – obviously – this is still a, um, ‘high indulgence’ brunch. Portions are also small, allowing for more sharing and sampling.
Giorgio Nava's baking skills...
Just when we had started openly applauding Lecchi’s handiwork, Executive Chef Giorgio Nava reminded us that he’s also a dab hand with more than butcher’s knife, by bringing out a selection of savoury pastries he made himself. (Highlight? A feather-light almond-topped square, good enough to wonder why almonds are ever wasted in sweet dishes.)
I stayed far longer than was professionally necessary, and treated the chocolate mousse cake Giorgio bestowed on me with ridiculous reverence, even taking it out of the fridge the appropriate hour before dessert time, so as to give my family the full impact. (Verdict? Best ever.)
Next time I’m up that way, I plan to try the bacon Eggs Benedict, and then try to buy pastries to take home before I really notice what I am doing. There is also a very appealing simple Italian evening menu, with a very well-priced wine list.
Try it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Sam was hosted by Caffe Milano at a press brunch to introduce new pastry chef, Andrea Lecchi.