In an age that sees many restaurants come and go in the blink of an eye, Café Mozart is a stalwart. For no less than 37 years this tiny restaurant has held its spot on the coveted pedestrian section of Church Street, that short stretch between Long Street and Greenmarket Square that almost every visitor to the Cape Town city centre must have walked at some stage, browsing the antique stalls en route.
Previously owned by a great character who used to play Mozart throughout the day, the restaurant was taken over by the Madame Zingara group in October 2010.
In addition to a thorough overhaul and major changes to the kitchen Madame Zingara has needless to say made her mark with eccentricities of her own. The popular tree-shaded outside area is demarcated with a picket fence intertwined with fake roses. Inside, the tiny space of ground floor not taken up by the kitchen offers a couple of small tables and decorations of antique plates and teapots alongside a mirrored mosaic wall that bring a welcome brightness.
Up a steep flight of wooden stairs lies the heart of the café. Previously a rather lost space, this blue-walled room is now cluttered with tables and chairs and liberally scattered with Victoriana, the air scented with joss sticks. Even on a rather cool Friday lunchtime we found every table occupied, and the restaurant bustling both inside and out.
Many of the patrons while we were there had been tempted in by the ‘Table of Love’, a salad buffet special offer, just one of a string of special offers run by Café Mozart each month.
The menu otherwise offers simple fare for either breakfast or lunch: alongside the freshly-squeezed juices and selection of teas is ‘The Full Mozart’ breakfast, a variety of tasty-sounding sandwiches and salads, and a short choice of hot meals including gourmet burgers and bangers and mash. Looking around for inspiration on my choice, I was delighted to see that the soup of the day is served in a porcelain tureen, and the fish and chips in a colander with paper. While we mulled over the menu, our waiter anticipated our request for water, bringing us tall glasses of tap water (hooray!) deliciously flavoured with mint and apple.
In the end I plumped for grilled calamari, served with salad and a couple of slices of full-flavoured ciabatta. Soft and satisfying, it proved a good choice. Equally impressive was my friend’s steak sandwich, served tender and warm, though the recommendation to pair it with a sweet molasses bread is not something I’d have expected to work.
Despite the fast, friendly service, we found ourselves lingering at Café Mozart rather longer than intended, and it was no surprise to hear afterwards that those who arrive for breakfast are often still there at lunchtime.
Café Mozart is open Monday to Friday 7am to +/- 4pm and Saturdays 9am to 3.30pm. Trading hours are extended whenever there is a big event taking place in the area. Café Mozart is licensed to offer wine, or you may bring your own (corkage applies).