Food24 eats at... Cafe Paradiso

Cathy Marston checks out just how child-friendly Cafe Paradiso really is.

06 Apr 2011

When I came to Cape Town, Madame Zingara’s was the coolest place in town. One fire and several tours with the tent later, owner Richard Griffin appears to have settled down to running a variety of different eateries in Cape Town, many of them well-loved institutions such as Café Mozart. Food24 was invited to try out Café Paradiso and, since I had read somewhere that they prided themselves on being child-friendly, we took them up for a weekend breakfast along with husband and five-year old son.
The Atmosphere
Café Paradiso is by far the most spacious restaurant on uber-trendy Kloof Street with the best views of the mountain. Luckily for us, there wasn’t a breath of wind that morning so we sat in the shade of the tree whilst Charlie drove cars round and round the central fountain. There is a lot less ‘tat’ than at Zingara’s but you still have the impression that you are in a slightly eccentric Aunt’s family home – which impression was reinforced by an elderly lady whisking a broom around the place and greeting us with a cheerful, but absent-minded charm. Inside, there are several different areas to the restaurant with an open plan kitchen operating to the left, facing the central bar.
The Food
There are some very interesting, non-traditional options available for breakfast such as Scrambled Egg Rosti with feta, avo and tomato (R45), a fishy version of Eggs Benedict  (R55)and Savoury French toast with halloumi, pesto and tomato (R45). I had the latter – the be-hatted waitress happily swapping halloumi for feta - and Kevin went for the Classic Stack (R45) which was basically the full English piled up in the middle of the plate.  I was surprised to see there were no kids options since they said they were child-friendly, but the manager explained that it was easier to let parents/kids choose what they wanted and then price it up accordingly.
Everything was hot, tasty, fresh and just the right amount – gone are the days when I wanted to stuff in so much breakfast food that I needn’t eat for the rest of the day – and everyone else was looking very happy with their food as well. If you come later in the day there are interesting-sounding sandwiches and lots of traditional Italian pasta and rice favourites with a few steaks on the side for carnivores.
The Kid Angle
This takes the form of ‘projects’ which your child can undertake in the bakery kitchen at the back. After the day’s breadmaking is finished, the kitchen turns itself into an impromptu crèche with extremely lovely and patient staff helping your child make gingerbread men, pizza or decorate cupcakes. Charlie opted for gingerbread men and soon he was busily rolling out his dough under the helpful eyes of Nandie and Jennifer. He happily sat at the table for most of breakfast, playing with the dough, adding chocolate chip buttons and decorating the lid of a cardboard box which was then used to house his treasures when they came out of the oven. It’s a very clever idea and meant that we were able to enjoy a civilised breakfast by ourselves – a welcome treat indeed.
Perfect for…
…anyone of any age really. I think it’s really important for kids to learn how to behave in a proper restaurant ie not one where you get a free cowboy hat and over-cooked junk food, and this was a perfect example of a good family restaurant where the kids are welcome, but don’t take over the joint and annoy other childless patrons.

Cafe Paradiso was reviewed by Cathy Marston, follow her on twitter.

Read more on: cathy marston

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