Skinny Legs & All….My ThoughtsPosted: November 4, 2011
“Skinny Legs & All” is the name of one of Cape Town’s inner city café’s which opened a few months back. Set in an unobtrusive section of Loop Street, the “Luxury café”-which takes its name from the book written by Tom Robbins, is easy to miss but once you’ve driven around the block countless times and eventually found parking, any displeasure’s soon melt away once you step into the calm, serene space.
Previously an art gallery, the simple, clean, earthy-zen styled cafe is run by twin sisters, Jess and Jamie Freidberg, who both relinquished their studies at UCT after realizing that their hearts lay in making delicious food. “We’d always talk about what were going to go home and make for lunch”, says Jess with a smile.
My friend Mieneke and I made ourselves comfortable at a corner table from which we had a generous view of the intriguing artwork that adorned the walls. In fact the waitress (who happened to be none other than Jess herself), was forced to come back several times to take our order because we were too busy gawking at the interesting choice of paintings and images; each one creating its own talking point.
My favourite is the one that hangs in the open kitchen- a portrait of a woman with a great fifty’s hair-do. Being the curious cat that I am, I asked who she was. “Everyone thinks she’s our great aunt”, said Jess laughing. But in fact it turns out that the woman is a famous South African artist. “We both love art” Jess explains.
The café appeals to anyone looking for a quiet, peaceful sanctuary- away from the bustling noise and general “hurry” of the City Bowl. As I said, it took us forever to peruse the menu- there’re a good number of breakfast options including a toasted banana bread dish that I simply HAVE to go back for! Lunch options are also substantial; think open gourmet sandwiches, goat’s cheese-sprinkled salads and warm vegetarian soups. Then there’s the selection of home-made baked goods. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the display of hazelnut chocolate brownies. Those unfortunately also had to wait until next time.
We finally made our choices and went with a porcini mushroom risotto (for Mieneke) and a Mediterranean quinoa salad for me. To drink we both tried some of the fresh lime, ginger and grapefruit juice. I found it a touch too sweet but the flavours were well-balanced and I would have preferred to have had it served in a normal highball glass and not a small, itsy-bitsy two-sip thimble.
Our food was presented in gorgeous olive green pottery bowls which were specially made for the restaurant by someone in Woodstock. (I like the unique element of that). Mieneke’s risotto was perfect; oozing with mushroomy goodness and deliciously creamy, but my salad on the other hand was rather disappointing. The quinoa (although lightly spiced with cinnamon), was very under-seasoned and there were literally 3 small pieces of roasted aubergine. I do however commend the girls for complimenting the salad with a decent-sized handful of raw almonds (I know how expensive they are!). But I did find the prices rather high for a place that prides itself on a “back-to-basics” approach. Hardly any of the lunch menu items fall below R50.00- making a meal at Skinny Legs quite out-of-reach for a lowly student like myself.
We could not leave without sampling something sweet, so Jess suggested we try the chocolate chip cookies. After deciding to share one, Mieneke and I both found ourselves in deep biscuit decadence! It was perfectly crisp with big melting specs of dark chocolate that had us gauchely licking our fingers. I don’t even care who was watching.
I’m not sure exactly what is meant by the term “luxury café” but I expected a little more from the state of the restrooms. There was all but one toilet- devoid of windows or paper towels. I thought the presence of one single half-damp hand towel was a touch unhygienic but maybe that’s just me.
Although I think there are places that could rival Skinny Legs & All, there’s definitely something a little different about it. Perhaps it’s the twins and their interesting story. Perhaps it’s the café’s intriguing and quirky name. Or Perhaps it’s the smell of granola baking in the oven. Either way, I’m going back for that toasted banana bread!