At the far end of Sea Point, beyond the Pavilion and one road back from Sea Point’s busy promenade, there’s a new café / restaurant that ticks a few of the right boxes.
The architecture of Strolla is reminiscent of a 1920s cruise ship. Divided lengthways with a series of square pillars, it is long and narrow with a glass wall running along one length opening out onto a timbered deck. The décor is dominated by art deco green and grey, with touches of pink, baby blue and gold, the latter headily accentuated by some fabulous hanging lights. We were immediately drawn to the large cast concrete table at the end of the room, with pink-tinged ghost chairs on one side opposite a vast green velvet button-back sofa under a collage of gold-framed mirrors.
The menu has nothing that stands out particularly, but something for everyone. The divisions are a little confusing: there is no ‘Starter’ section, but under ‘Fill the Gap’ is a list of all sorts of dishes from pâté to beef carpaccio to a cheese burger. Then there is a short ‘Salads and Soups’ section, and a choice of three pizzas, while the ‘Soul-Satisfying’ section contains more elaborate dishes from a falafel burger to seafood cassoulet to various steak options.
There’s no signature dish here, but on asking what was popular, we opted for a plate of nachos to share, followed by the Portuguese steak and the seared tuna. The presentation was thoughtful and elegant, but on this occasion the food itself was nothing to sing about. I would recommend rather opting for one of the lighter meals – perhaps the Caprese Pizza or the Gazpacho, or the Baby Calamari Salad.
I liked the sound of the Bacon and Egg too (served, interestingly, with quails eggs). Its inclusion on the menu was a good reminder that Strolla is a great option for morning walkers along the promenade. Given that it is open every day from 7am, what tastier food to tuck into after a good few lungfuls of early morning sea air? Again there are lighter options: just switch from the restaurant to the café menu for croissants, bagels, muffins and some perfectly brewed coffees and teas.
Despite its elegance there is a certain sturdiness to the restaurant that can withstand the ravages of children. We took four along with us, aged between 7 and 11. Again, their food was pretty standard fare but they loved the apparent poshness of it all. And their eyes lit up at the dedicated kids’ playroom. Needless to say they spurned the Lego wall and the colouring books and instead, supervised by an enthusiastic childminder, they played ping pong on the Xbox. With a large glass window between the playroom and the restaurant, parents can keep half an eye on their offspring with all the ease of visiting an aquarium.
I think it is this element that sold Strolla to me the most. Despite four overexcited children, the staff didn’t bat an eyelid. The service could not have been more friendly and helpful, a reflection of the charming manager Bongani Rapoo. Also to the owners’ credit is the free wi-fi, which immediately makes this a good destination for individuals and for meetings. Plus there’s the café part of the restaurant (aka Bootlegger) which adds an extra dimension.
Parking is tricky (but there is a small car park near the beach, and a MyCiti bus stop right outside… and of course the option to walk there) and the restaurant is not actually on the beach (though the roof top sun deck does offer a good view). But despite these downsides, this place is definitely worth a try, if only for craft beers and pizza on the sun deck, or light meals and cocktails (try the watermelon-infused gin and tonic). And really, really good post-stroll coffee.
Strolla Restaurant and Café, 313 Beach Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
Opening hours: 7am – 11pm every day
Tel: 021 430 7778