Food24 eats at... Casa Labia Café

Chef Caro de Waal and wine ed. Cathy Marston went along to check out this new gem.

by: Cathy Marston

Setting – it's like nothing I have ever seen in South Africa! When the original Count Labia settled in South Africa and married his ‘Rand Lord’ wife, Ida, he built a house in Muizenberg which was intended to double up as both a family home and the Italian Legation.

All the fixtures and fittings were imported from Venice and the house is fabulously decorated with rich wall hangings, stunning chandeliers and exquisite wrought iron decorations and gates.

It’s like a piece of Italy in South Africa and is as surprising as it is impressive. Outside, a lawn and ornately-laid out garden give you beautiful views over False Bay. Upstairs in the house is an art gallery and an outlet of popular Afro-chic shop, Africa Nova.

The Food – presiding over the Casa Labia Café is SA Food Doyenne, Judy Badenhorst (ex-River Café). Her menu is Italian comfort food with elegance and style and she has sourced some amazing ingredients for her new venture including a smoked sailfish carpaccio which I could eat forever.

On the table beforehand are delicious homemade breadsticks and the homemade foccacia was also divine. Portions are good to huge (the Butternut Risotto was enough for a couple of hungry men, let alone two female journos halfway through a 4 course meal!) and attention to detail is great.

Delicious spinach pancakes and the special of the day, a Roast Quail, were also good. And we finished off with a truly delicious Apple crostata with Amaretti ice-cream.

The Wine – Judy’s son is fashionable Swartland winemaker, Adi so unsurprisingly, his wines feature on the list! But so do a host of other excellent choices and prices are more than fair considering the ENORMOUS serving size – anyone who normally thinks they can have a couple of glasses and still drive had better stick to one! The glassware is beautiful and classic, especially the champagne flutes.

Price Range – Most mains are in the R50’s or R60’s which is ridiculous value for the portion size. Specials are pricier but the value is still very good and the quality of ingredients, excellent

Perfect for – ladies who lunch or romantic meals with the hubby sitting outside in the intimate little courtyard at the back. Leave the kids at home – you’ve earned a day off!

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