Bree Street – The Lowdown

16 Mar, 2015

From the very old to the very new and plenty of middle-age spread.

Bree is a street in contrasts, a street in transformation and a real street populated by real Capetonians. At the mountain end you will find historic buildings listed as heritage sites housing décor, bars, eateries, DVD’s, gins and models. In the middle, some seventies uglies face demolition. The next one to implode being The Tulip Hotel and Conference Centre on 22 February. All cheers to that. At the business end, you cannot miss Cape Town’s tallest skyscraper, The Portside Building covering the whole block from Buitengracht down to Bree.

A trip down Bree Street would not be complete without stopping or starting at the Kirsten Goss and Missibaba shared retail space. Talk about dangerous territory for credit cards. Local design and creativity rule with mouthwatering jewellery creations and covetable bags.

Kirsten Goss jewellery epitomises originality in design with surprising aesthetic combinations in merging metal with gems and organic shapes with geometry. Swooping modern forms appeal to those who love the authentic, the local and the spirit of handcrafted.

Make sure you visit Missibaba before you visit Mother’s Ruin. You will need a cool head to still your beating heart in this small space filled with lustful leather bags. Gorgeous African-inspired indigenous design rendered in practical and unique colour combo’s and styles. Local rules with a strong focus on community upliftment and skills development.

At the 4way junction of Bree and Bloem, you will find the aorta of the street. Jason’s Bakery has been pumping life blood into the area for some years now. Packed with locals and curious visitors, Jason’s rocks all day from 7 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. The crowd morphs from the early morning suits to the models waiting for castings to lycra clad gym goers to muscled trainers to tattoo-ed creatives and freelancers. All drawn by the great vibe, perfection in coffee and the kitchens’ yields. Jason’s is a bakery lest we forget in our headlong pursuit of that roasted bean turned elixir of energy. Gourmet sandwiches, pies, breads, croissants and a pain au chocolate that is better than Paris. The baked treats change often and on Saturday I tasted 3 nuggets of pure extraordinariness. Imagine croissant dough twisted into a ring finger size, deep fried and injected with Nutella. I tried to save one for my boyfriend but didn’t succeed. Ask for the Dough-ssant Nuggets.

“Slow food, fast” is the mantra of Cafe Frank who rule the opposite corner. Those in the know head to Cafe Frank for a chilled vibe featuring long communal tables and a daily lunch menu that always includes free-range rotisserie chicken, quiches, pies and salads. The beetroot, pear, feta and mint salad is one to eat and then take some more home. I fess up … I have served it at a dinner party and failed to mention that it did not come from my kitchen. It collected rave reviews. The selection of wines and craft beers all feature the new, the interesting and hard to come by. Dedicated to serving quality lunch-time food to busy working folk, Cafe Frank’s attractive booze options demonstrate a deep understanding of the human state. So much so that a small but growing knot of cool dudes are making sure of having an end of the day beer or 2 at this well designed and attractive corner.

Revolution Cycles have opened a new specialised bicycle and accessories store at 177. They are very busy so please note bicycle servicing bookings are essential. In fact so busy that they have the reputation of being a bit unfriendly at times. However as a coffee-buying non-cyclist, I experienced the polar opposite of frostiness. One of the more age appropriate members of staff gave me quite a sexy wink. Revolution Cycles have a coffee hatch and small bar area called the Ché Cafe and may be responsible for helping to fuel the coffee wars of Bree Street but more about that later.

If you are a bike nut, then consider a detour down Pepper Street to Rapid Sport’s factory shop. This small and down-to-earth crowd are one of the biggest local manufacturers of ski and cycling wear in Africa. As a shopper but not consumer of cycle wear, I love Rapid Sport’s crazy print designs, it’s support of local industry and it’s realistic clothing prices.

Latitude33 is another stop that flies in under the radar attracting locals in the know. The street savvy eschew the crowds down the road in favour of wholesome food and killer coffee right here. Good times ahead in this collaboration of food, fashion and art. Drop some threads into the trolley, pick up some fine art and chow down on one of their generous menu options like the Smoked Salmon scramble with scrambled eggs, cream cheese and chives or the black mushroom wrap with grilled haloumi, rocket and tomato. The team at Latitude33 seem to have put together a space filled with things that they like and that is why it works; we find we like it too.

The lightness of being and overstuffing of everything at Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room. Be excited, very excited, the food is delicious and generous. Take the Grilled Cheese at R46 as an ordinary-sounding but extraordinary example. Ample Colby Cheddar and Cloud Cottage’s goat’s cheese piled onto chewily delicious bread. Clarke’s ratio of filling to receptacle goes in the right direction for me. There is a cult following for the Heuvos Rancheros (refried organic black beans on butter fried toast with two eggs, pico de Gallo, coriander, avocado and queso fresco). Plate after plate of this inspired dish fly out of the kitchen into the arms of hungry and adoring fans. After watching the devout devour this creation, I had to use the famous line from When Harry met Sally “I’ll have what she’s having”. It is not something I regret and I didn’t even need to fake it. The atmosphere is where the lightness comes in. Fresh, friendly, great music, unhurried and happy.

“Fokken Mooi Winkel” says a comment in the guest book of SAM, the South African Market. Well said, clear, to the point and captures the local flavour perfectly. This airy space is a one-stop showcase of the best in South African design. Explore local brands like Long John Silver, One for the Birds, Selfi, Titch bags, Handmade By Me and Loam & Yarn. Shop homewares, clothing, stationary, jewellery, art and accessories. Make it your number one destination for gifting but always remember the golden rule of gift shopping. “One for me, One for you”. If you first buy yourself a gift, the process of choosing a gift for your friend will go a lot smoother.

Barnet Fair Barber Shop is a man cave for lumbersexuals. Let these “Shit Hot Barbers Make You Look Sharp”. Apparently drinking and swearing is encouraged. I am still planning on investigating.

Hard-Pressed Cafe

I was drawn like a moth to a candle in the wind, wild horses couldn’t keep me away… Cheesy, I know but with vinyl, coffee, retro grooves and chairs with pictures and music lyrics. Hard-Pressed Café had me written all over it. Smooth beans, croissants, sandwiches, bagels and salads complete the picture. A quote from their blackboard sums up the spirit of this commitedly caffeinated joint, “between all the staff members here at Hard Pressed, we have a combined work experience of 19 years. Not one of us understands decaf though.” If you love retro-cool, then don’t miss the Hard-Pressed Café. It resides at the base of Bree’s most modern glass structure, a great study in contrasts. The oxymoron of the street, for sure.

Just visible from the T of Bree is Freres Bistro, off Hans Strijdom Avenue serving their legendary Sirloin Cafe de Paris with duck fat tempura potatoes and green beans. I wish to nominate them as honorary frat members amongst Bree Street’s finest brothers for their sheer kitchen brilliance and happy, casual vibe.


The Hit List


229 Bree Street

021 424 8127


Kirsten Goss

229 Bree Street

021 424 3453


Jason’s Bakery

185 Bree Street

021 424 5644


Cafe Frank

160 Bree Street

021 423 0360


Revolution Cycles

177 Bree Street

021 423 5191


Rapid Sport

15 Pepper Street

021 426 4044



165 Bree Street

021 424 9857


SAM (South African Market)

1st floor

107 Bree Street

021 4222898


Hard-Pressed Cafe

4 Bree Street


Freres Bistro

42 Hans Strijdom Avenue

021 418 1609


Heritage Sites to check out in Bree Street

Jan de Waal house

93 Bree Street

This erf was granted in 1752 and the house is a great example of Georgian character.

122 Bree Street

One of the few remaining Georgian double-storeyed houses in Cape Town

173 Bree Street

Victorian double storey from late 1800’s.

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