I was strolling around Fish Hoek (a suburb of Cape Town in South Africa) the other day and noticed that a new restaurant had opened on the Main Road. It was called La Sal (Spanish for "The Salt") and boasted the somewhat intriguing signage "The Salt of Life" and "Meet. Eat. Drink". The interior was fairly small but light and airy, with lime-washed wooden tables, cushions and a cocktail bar-style counter. Blackboards advertised various Specials of the Day. There were a couple of other patrons in the restaurant, sipping wine and reading magazines.
I sat down and perused the menu. Initially I'd thought the place was a coffee shop, but it became apparent that it was more of a restaurant - the menu had a selection of starters, main courses and desserts rather than simply light meals and cakes, and the opening hours were advertised as being from 7:30 AM to 10 PM. That is rather unusual for a small eatery ; it's very difficult to be open for 15 hours every day and satisfy both the early-morning breakfast run commuters as well as the late-night dinner crowd.
A friendly waitress came over and took my order - cottage pie and vegetables (the Special of the Day on one of the blackboards) and coffee. I had spied a proper espresso machine on the end of the counter so I was hopeful that the coffee would be better than the muck you often get at bar-style restaurants. And indeed, when the waitress returned with my coffee I could see immediately that it was an Americano (espresso-based coffee topped up with hot water). That was the good news ; the bad news was that she told me there was no more cottage pie left and I'd have to order something else. The waitress was extremely apologetic about that fact that she hadn't scrubbed the special board clean so it really wasn't a problem. Besides, the coffee really was superb - rich and strong, with the distinctive smoky taste of an African blend.
I ordered an omelette instead, which came quite quickly and was delicious - juicy, thick and filled with the extra ingredients I'd asked for. Comfortably replete, I ordered another coffee ; it was as good as the first one. This was turning out to be a most unexpectedly enjoyable experience.
I wish the owners of La Sal the very best of luck with their restaurant. The location they have chosen is one that several restaurants in the past have occupied with minimal success, so history is not on their side ... however, they seem to be doing things somewhat differently (and certainly far better) than their predecessors, so I'm hopeful they will be able to make a go of it. They undoubtedly have the best coffee in Fish Hoek, and for that reason alone I'll be back. My only word of caution is that some of their main courses are probably too fancy and expensive for the kind of people who are likely to be going to La Sal for dinner or lunch - I think a couple of simpler main course items are needed. This is Fish Hoek, after all ...
La Sal Cafe|
90 Main Road
Phone +27 21 782 3649