The latest offering from the Melissa’s group of coffeshop-delis is a fully fledged restaurant, and can be found on the famous Camps Bay strip, on the first floor of the former Tuscany Beach, above another newcomer to the area, The 41. Once we’d climbed the stairs we were wowed by the gorgeous panoramic view of the beach and palm trees revealed through the large glass panels that slide open and shut depending on the weather. The restaurant is immediately identifiable as an offspring of Melissa’s, with the familiar black and white café-style rattan chairs dotted around. But, this is no ordinary Melissa’s; this is Melissa’s on steroids – and a foray into the first of its new style of eateries.
A bar counter with seats runs down the side of the room allowing beachgoers and other casual diners to cross the busy road for a cocktail, beer, coffee, or light meal. The charcoal-patterned wallpaper behind the bar, exposed ceiling beams, and sand-coloured floors throughout create a chic, modern atmosphere, which is enhanced by the interesting artwork, and a photograph of swimmers on Camps Bay beach.
Arrive at sunset
We arrived at 6.30pm on a windy Friday evening in time to see the sun setting over the ocean – #Spectacular. The restaurant was busy – with a large family enjoying what looked like a very late lunch, a smattering of elegant couples, and plenty of hip and happy diners who arrived throughout the evening. Managers and part-owners Ian Smith and Stehann Burger (a third manager, Simone Ruthven was off that evening) greeted us on arrival and we were promptly seated in the main section – the lower window terrace was too sunny even at that time of day. Our waitress Lauren brought us the menu and we settled in to enjoy a glass of delicious Oak Valley sauvignon blanc for my companion and an unwooded Rustenberg chardonnay for me, while pondering the menu.
Dinner with a view
As we were peckish, we ordered the tempting Mantra salad to share followed by grilled prawns for me and a thick-cut sirloin steak, accompanied by Mantra’s own Bearnaise sauce. The salad was excellent – fresh butter lettuce with nice-sized chunks of avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds tossed in a sweet honey-raspberry dressing, topped with a generous serving of Parmesan shavings. A crispy thin-based pizza bread cut into slivers, topped with olive oil and grated Parmesan was the crispiest and tastiest I have had in a long while…so moreish and we will definitely be back to try one of the seven pizzas on offer.
My order of grilled prawns, served with delicate pea shoots was accompanied by herbed potato chips on the side. The portion of eight was generous, perfectly cooked to my taste with a lemon, garlic and herb butter, not too saucy and finger-licking good. A finger bowl was presented for sticky fingers – a nice touch. Other diners may consider the prawns a tad overdone as several were not so easy to remove from their shells, but as I like to savour the skin as well as the meat I enjoyed them that way.
My companion’s sirloin, ordered rare, was perfectly cooked – just warm on the inside as it should be, and accompanied by an untraditional but flavourful Béarnaise sauce. The meat was topped with a perfectly roasted garlic clove, quickly gobbled down by me, but for those who don’t eat garlic, let the waiter know when ordering. The Mantra burger with dill pickle, red onion, tomato and melted cheese on a toasted brioche bun and the thin–based pizza served at a nearby table both looked yummy.
The rest of the menu
Open from 8am till late for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffees and teas, cocktails and dinner, Mantra Café is on track to be a roaring success. The menu is well thought out and there’s something to suit all tastes. Breakfast items include the usual suspects – muffins, croissants, scones, and a range of classic cooked breakfasts including eggs Benedict, traditional English breakfast, omelettes and the delicious-sounding smoked salmon hash browns.
Mantra plates – at around R100 each – include a Caprese salad, a choice of Patagonian calamari fried and grilled, sticky chicken wings, tuna ceviche and beef carpaccio – are perfect for a quick snack or to share with friends after a day at the beach. You’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing a main, with dishes such as the Sassi-friendly battered hake and chips, mussels and yellowtail, wood-fired chicken, wood-fired pork ribs with sticky BBQ sesame sauce. Vegetarians are catered for with Aubergine Parmagiana.
Melissa’s luxury shop at the entrance to the restaurant sells its signature bottled fruits and vegetables, relishes and pickles, as well as beautiful table linen, crockery and gift items. And don’t miss the gorgeous cake stands by potter Gemma Orkin on which the delicious cakes are displayed. Although not for sale yet, Gemma may be persuaded to make one for you if you ask.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 12pm
Contact 021 437 0206, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Melissa’s Mantra Cafe, 1st Floor, 43 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town