Glamorous new hotel Labotessa on Cape Town’s heritage Church Square has just opened to the public, along with a brand-new outlet of Claremont “café crush”, Starlings. Labotessa, an elegant seven-suite space within a charming historical envelope, embodies the essence of what a boutique hotel ought to be – intimate, considered and personal. Starlings matches this locale in both personality and panache and is set to become the city’s new go-to for a quick brekkie for the early birds or a lengthy lunch looking out on the “piazza”…
Given the hotel’s prime position in the CBD – close to a multitude of cafes, restaurants and bars – and considering the fact that guests (both local and international, business and leisure) would want to explore the area during their stay, the duo decided to offer a pulled-back dining element in favour of suites that allowed for in-room snacking, and an inhouse restaurant that catered to a daily neighbourhood crowd as well as hotel guests.
Most importantly, they wanted to focus on a level of quality in line with the hotel’s beautiful interiors and service standards. Du Plessis’ vision for how guests would use and experience the space included casual dining that had the same welcoming and easy ambience as the hotel itself. Enter Starlings Café.
The original Starlings Café, a beloved destination in Cape Town’s southern suburbs that opened in 2008, is known for its authentic and honest food, and it was this, in addition to its low-key nature that attracted the hoteliers and prompted the partnership.
Moreover, their commitment to sustainable, organic and seasonal produce complemented the hotel’s dedication to an authentic experience. ‘We could not be more thrilled to have this beloved culinary hotspot for locals form part of Labotessa. There’s little better than great coffee coupled with simple, honest fare and a smile,’ says Du Plessis.
The classic café-style menu is a nod to the easygoing but high-quality values of both establishments – food with a home-made feel but more finesse. The two menus – breakfast and lunch – are concise but offer good variety despite their brevity. For breakfast, Indian-spiced poached eggs with potato cakes and chilli jam are an exotic way to start the day. Also look out for a classic benedict, moreish muesli and yoghurt, and a hearty breakfast wrap.
Lunch is light, with a focus on health. The vegetable tart is comfort personified, but elevated with an immaculately julienned side salad, while the vegan wrap with crunchy fresh veg and hummus caters to non-meat eaters. And if you’re really looking for some wholesome fuel, the steamed ‘bowl of goodness’ with vegetables, brown rice a soya sesame dressing is health personified – but it makes a menu appearance during the colder months.
Because Starlings is seasonally led, the menu is somewhat of a “moving target”. Now that we’re heading away from winter into summer, the restaurant has substituted the bowl of goodness with the essential chopped seasonal salad due to the warmer weather. Expect agile, responsive menus where there’s always something new to entice…
The blend of nostalgic charm and personal touches inherent in Starlings’ interior offering complements the hotel’s warm and welcoming aesthetic, whose architectural roots are traditional in nature. Spilling out onto the square at ground level, the idea is that the space will become loved by locals and visitors alike, who will come and enjoy the buzz and the food.
‘We don’t advertise. We don’t have a sign on our wall. We aren’t chefs. We are a local that welcomes everyone who comes through our door, offering a respite from the day-to-day. We care,’ says proprietor Trish Kratz, who will manage this outpost of the restaurant too. ‘Everything is homemade and made from scratch,’ she states. ‘All our offerings are simple and based on childhood memories.’
You’ll certainly make new memories of your own at this charming inner-city destination.