Visiting Cape Town need not be limited to staying in the city centre, city bowl or CBD area, where there are the New York-type loft apartments. Cape Town’s suburbs can be attractive venues for tourists. More particularly, the southern suburbs, such as Mowbray, Newlands and Rondebosch, are on the main routes and close to shops, hospitals and theatres. Quite close to the city and within reach and against the traffic flow is the suburb of Little Mowbray, with Durban Road running through it. The suburb lies on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, part of the Table Mountain range.
Mowbray was established in 1853, but its derivation from its original name in Dutch, “Driekoppen”, is anything but enshrined in glory. It is here that three slaves, under the rule of the Dutch East India Company, were impaled following their execution for insurrection in 1724. The subsequent name, Mowbray, most likely derives from the name of the owners of the original farm there, who came from Melton Mowbray in England. Today, Little Mowbray is a sought after residential area, close to schools and other facilities. Driving through the leafy suburb presents the traveller with many opportunities, lovely little restaurants to have supper at, as well as the sights of interesting and different architectural styles in the buildings, both commercial and residential. Many of the residents living here today are lecturers at the University of Cape Town, a few minutes away by car.
Then, there are the schools, many of them – such as St George’s – dating from the middle of the nineteenth century. The grounds of these schools are spacious and characteristic of South African schools that offer sport as part of the curriculum, in addition to a good all-round education. Visit the school’s website at www.sggs.co.za, as well as those of neighbouring schools Bishops (www.bishops.org.za), Rustenburg School for Girls (www.rghs.org.za) and Rondebosch Boys’ High School (www.rondebosch.com/high). Both St George’s and Bishops have their roots in English independent schools, such as Radley and Winchester. The South African model of school, with its strong sports programme because of the favourable weather conditions, makes South Africa a sought after destination for learners from all over the world. A little higher up the slopes of Devil’s Peak lies the University of Cape Town, established in 1829, with a current enrollment of approximately 30 000 students.
Uber is very well represented in Cape Town, where the traveller can choose from the ordinary four-seater sedan (Uber X), the minivan taking more passengers (Uber XL), the more luxury Uber Executive and, for specific needs and assistance, the Uber Assist www.uber.com/cities/
However, in the Rondebosch, Rosebank, Mowbray and Little Mowbray area, there are more than enough places to choose from for dining for the tourist not to have to venture off very far. Information on these can be accessed at www.dining-out.co.za/restaurants/Mowbray/727, and they are worth trying. Especially, the area around Durban Road has some really nice eateries, which can be easily accessed, as long as one takes some form of transport – taxi or Uber – always advisable. Perambulating along the sidewalk made me realise just what a little gem the place is. Record and turntable aficionados would delight in the fact that there is not only a vinyl record shop there, but also a place which repairs turntables, called The Turntable Guy (Jacques Passier, www.turntableguy.co.za/contact-me, top quality records and repairs to turntables). Next door is Kandi Records, on 77 Durban Road (082 450 0581, firstname.lastname@example.org). There seems to be a trend back to records, with their rich and groovy sound coming from the vinyl, for which the plinth (base) and quality of needle are paramount for propagating the best quality sound through speakers.
Eateries in the area abound. Try A Taste of Thailand on 65 Durban Road, Little Mowbray (021 689 61 56/7 or 071 233 8761). Try their delectable tom yum soup (recipe at www.eatingthaifood.com/tom-yum-soup-recipe), followed by a scrumptious main dish, such as a duck or chicken dish, although there’s much more to choose from. You can get sushi all day at Roseberry Sushi (see the review at www.zomato.com/capetown/roseberry-mowbray/menu) or Monk’s Chinese Food (www.monkschinese.co.za, or see the reviews on www.tripadvisor.co.za/ShowUserReviews-g312659-d6550861-r393254277-Monk_s_Chinese_Food-Cape_Town_Central_Western_Cape.html).
One of the hidden gems in the area is definitely Curry Quest (see the review at www.zomato.com/capetown/curry-quest-mowbray/reviews), where chef-patron Vani Moodley has a loyal following for her fiery style of homemade Durban curries. All daily dishes on display are freshly made – try the signature dish, the deboned lamb or butter chicken, the prawn curry or lamb mince on roti or rice, the biryani or a bunny chow.
It was on a lovely summer’s evening that I set out specially to try the pizza at the renowned Breugels. With the restaurant named after the Flemish artist Pieter Breugel, the proprietor has tried to recreate a place of artful design blended with delicious food. The flavour is distinctively Italian, with the speciality being very thin, crispy-based dough. The mission was to test, try, taste. Arriving in the place is like being in an art studio; in fact, drawing with colour crayon on large pieces of drawing paper is encouraged. Many an aspiring artist has his work firmly appended on the walls of this astonishing eatery – friendly, nice and very cosy-colourful.
Only the best quality ingredients and products are used at Breugels, as in the Italian picture-perfect salad, which oozed freshness.
But, it was the pizza I was after. Being a regular traveller to La Bella Italia and having enjoyed pizza from the southern to the northern regions of the country, I can be quite discerning: too thick, too thin, too doughy, too much filling – although, one might say, pizza is pizza, no matter what. But, when one is dealing with a product from antiquity, from the time that it was fashionable to produce flatbread with toppings, then the discerning pizza lover has a right to be fussy.
And, so it was! Delectable, fresh, crispy and really good. One virtually orders one’s own pizza very much like painting one’s own picture – the product: a colourful creation much like a Breugel painting.
For Breugels, see the review at www.zomato.com/capetown/bruegels-pizza-studio-mowbray/menu. To see more, go to http://www.food-blog.co.za/bruegels-pizza-studio (99 Durban Road, Little Mowbray; 021 685 6046).
Little Mowbray has much to offer the visitor looking for more of a suburban experience in Cape Town: guest houses are aplenty, especially now with Booking.com and Airbnb. Many pleasant surprises await!
- All photos by Paul Murray