I enter the café/deli to be greeted by a warm combination of chatter, exquisite smells and welcoming smiles, a gorgeous clash of business folk, art students and passers by.
The layout is clean and uncomplicated; a pretty combination of mismatched chairs and wooden tables with hats, old photos in frames and trinkets dotting the walls. A large blackboard is painted across one wall with the menu options and other delights written by hand and signed ‘Love Jamie and Bonnie’.
If it sounds delightful, that’s because it is, and I haven’t even started on the girls or the food...
Bonnie and Jamie
Jamie is the owner/chef who put this little dream into reality. A graduate of Silwood, she’d previously worked as a caterer delivering her own range of healthy-eating options to the people of Knysna.
She then moved to the big smoke and, whilst exploring the inner city one day, stumbled upon the empty building. With a strong arm, a serious scrubbing brush and the will to make it happen, she created: Love Food.
Bonnie graduated from Capsicum before working at both dw eleven-13 and The Fat Duck, and although she loved it, became tired of the impossible working hours required in the fine-dining industry. She called Jamie inquiring if she needed another chef. Jamie was a little unsure, but took Bonnie on for a few trial days and…she never left.
When I met the two of them I was certain that they’d been friends since childhood, so on hearing they’d never met before Love Food, I ask how their friendship blossomed so quickly? ‘We’re both left-handed’ Bonnie laughs, Jamie adds that her boyfriend thinks they should have a TV show called ‘Bonnie and I’ (after meeting them I’d have to agree).
They tell me that their different cooking styles compliment each other and that they work well as a team - which makes the friendship part easy.
Bonnie and Jamie conceptualise, cook AND serve the food. It was difficult for Bonnie to get used to the idea of being both a chef and a waitress, needing to deal with the customers face-to-face, but with a little encouragement and Jamie’s ‘get over it’ attitude, she soon, well, got over it.
They serve an array of breakfasts from 7-11am, the French toast and the bacon stack being the most popular. Lunch is from 11-3pm and it’s about whatever tickles the girls’ fancy that morning; they make 5 salads, a dish of the day and 3 proteins. Everyday is different, but everyday you’ll find wholesome, healthy food, made with love.
You can choose between 3 and 5 salads for R34/R48 and add a protein for approx R14.‘Burger Fridays’ are extremely popular and once a month they have a dinner club where Bonnie gets to show off her fine-dining flair with a 3 course menu for between R250-R300.
Jamie serves me a plate of orange and almond roasted sweet potatoes, honey-mustard peas with feta and mint and fresh coleslaw made with home-made mayo; it’s fresh, aromatic, subtle, citrusy and dynamic (I think I’ve found my new favourite lunch spot).
As I try to eat politely, taking care not to moan loudly or lick the plate, I ask Jamie if she and Bonnie have ever had any awkward moments with customers when asked to fetch the chef or the owner… Jamie laughs and says when they ask, she responds ‘with pleasure’, turns around and walks to the kitchen, turns around again, walks back and says ‘Hi, I’m Jamie, the owner, how can I help you?’ – I can tell they have a lot of fun here.
I urge you to go and try this deli/café/kitchen. Yes, it is in Braamfontein, but it’s right opposite SAB and Liberty, it’s on a light and busy street and there is security and parking so you have no excuse about worrying about safety. It’s a splendid place run by splendid people and, whilst they are busy enough not to need your business, I can honestly say that they deserve it.
F.Y.I. They are closed on weekends.
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