A new and buzzing casual restaurant and deli has opened opposite the iconic Dalebrook tidal pool in Kalk Bay and its already a stalwart.
The Kalk Bay community is legendary for its arty residents, its quirky businesses, time-honoured drinking and dining destinations and of course its historic tidal pools that see swimmers young and old take their daily dips in summer – some in winter too. Newly opened Dalebrook Café, situated directly opposite Dalebrook tidal pool in the landmark building Dalebrook Place, is set to become a Kalk Bay favourite, thanks to the careful renovation of the heritage space and an on pointe, right-for-the-times menu by owner Charmaine Lilje of Chardonnay Deli fame.
The seaside sibling of Constantia-based Chardonnay Deli pays homage to its historical roots – the building is over 120 years old and has almost always been home to both businesses at street level and residences above.
“We wanted to reclaim that sense of place and history with the café, which is why we’ve left the beautiful original brickwork we discovered exposed and why we worked so hard with local craftsmen to build a space that has integrity from the woodwork up”, explains Charmaine, herself a Kalk Bay resident who before starting her own catering company and later opening the popular Chardonnay Deli, cut her culinary teeth working at the legendary Olympia Café just down the road, followed by a stint at La Colombe restaurant under then-chef Franck Dangereaux.
Charmaine has a passion for authentic, seasonal food, often with a rustic touch and this is especially evident in her menu development for Dalebrook Café. “I really believe that people are moving back to basics with a wish for simple, uncomplicated good food and good vibes”, she says – and judging by the hum of ‘hello’s’ across the café as people greet each other and the buzz of people as they tuck into hearty breakfasts and wholesome lunches, she’s certainly hit the mark.
Signature dishes on the menu include an avocado smash breakfast served with salmon and poached eggs, a raw energy bowl, seafood risotto, grilled linefish and of course homemade pies and quiches along with a coffee menu fuelled by Uber Coffee.
As with Chardonnay Deli, the deli side of the business is just as important as the breakfast and lunchtime trade and customers can stock up on just-baked artisanal breads as well as delicious deli goods, and in time – meals to go.
“We want people to know they can pop in and stock up on homemade, quality basics and some spoils too”, says Charmaine, whose business is already a favourite with locals and out-of-towners alike. “I think living in Kalk Bay and knowing the area has given me some insight into the mood of the place and with Dalebrook Café, we want to serve quality products and be as inclusive as we possibly can – we’re really happy for people to come in barefoot from the beach”, she laughs
It seems Charmaine’s quest to create an authentic eatery is definitely what people have been waiting for. Dalebrook Café is already an all-day pop in coffee spot as well as a linger-longer lunch destination. Early morning swimmers know they can grab one of the best coffees and pastries in the ‘hood before or after their swim, while cyclists who used to zoom past the building are putting in extra kilometers so they can justify the delicious calorific intake at Dalebrook Café a little later.
A lovely touch for locals and regulars alike is the wall of lockers where people can leave their keys and phones before popping to the pool for a dip – just another detail that emphasises just how tapped into what people want from a local Charmaine really is.
With the summer season in full swing, there’s no doubt Dalebrook Café will be doing a roaring trade but it’s the focus on authenticity that no doubt will see it become a Kalk Bay old faithful in years to come.
Dalebrook Café opens for breakfast and lunch daily from 07h00 to 21h00 and offers dinner three nights a week: Thursday, Friday and Saturday.