Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Spread Your Wings

Sunday Times Neighbourdhood, East City, 2 September 2018, Swan Cafe

Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Spread Your Wings

Sweet crêpes and savoury buckwheat galettes in Cape Town’s first Parisian crêperie

Paris style blends with Cape Town flair both in the food and in the decor at Swan Cafe in the East City. Watching chefs deftly spread, cook and expertly fold galettes as you wait for a table – it’s busy, word of mouth has spread fast since opening in May – eyes are drawn to the huge Leda and the Swan murals.

Designer Haldane Martin worked closely with owner Jessica Rushmere interpreting her personal swan theme in the tiles and beautifully repeating swan motif, and a cluster of gilded birdcages as light fittings. The overall effect is harmonious with France alluded to in the colour scheme – red, white and blue – and plenty of local South African creativity.

Having grown up in France and come to Cape Town 20 years ago – La Petite Tarte in De Waterkant is also her brainchild – Jessica decided it was time we had an authentic crêperie to rival those in Paris. The recipe is simple – a savoury menu of traditional buckwheat galettes made from scratch with naturally gluten-free flour imported from Canada, and a sweet section of classic French crêpes, made with regular flour.

For breakfast in classic French style, the galette with ham, cheese, and an egg cooked in place on the galette is satisfying and nutritious, and there’s a South African version with egg, streaky bacon and mushrooms. Eggs are free range and all ingredients sustainably sourced, the cheese a delicious combo of Emmental and Gruberg that melts into the galette as it cooks and forms a gorgeous almost toasted layer.

I went for a full-on lunch galette, Poulet et Champignons, piled high with chicken, mushrooms with a dash of truffle oil, a judicious base of cheese and drizzle of bechamel on top, sprinkled with micro herbs, it’s a delicious meal in itself.

On the sweet crêpe menu, you can go for simple classics like Nutella, cinnamon and lemon, or salted caramel, or sample Swan’s creative dessert montages. My Lucky Luc orange crêpe came with luscious orange sauce, generous toasted almonds and fresh thyme lending it a delightful element of unexpected contrast.

There’s dark-roasted coffee sourced from a micro-roastery in False Bay and creative tea infusions dreamed up by Jessica exclusively for Swan with the help of the Nigiro tea-master. The Paris Je t’aime rooibos blend is like a warm hug – South Africa meeting France – in marula, vanilla, lavender and rose.

Words: Kit Heathlock
Photos: Micky Hoyle

Originally published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood, East City on 2 September 2018 |  View PDF  / View online