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Coffee cocktail saves the day at The Gallery Cafe

THE girls and I got carried away when we visited The Gallery Cafe last Friday afternoon for lunch. Not only was it the start of the weekend to celebrate, but Mary had at last thrown away her Zimmer frame after a successful knee operation, and Anne was just back after a protracted stay abroad. So we went the whole hog, ordering starters, mains, dessert and coffee liqueurs.

Frangelico coffee liqueur at The Gallery Cafe

The Gallery Cafe is in College Road, overlooking the far reaches of the UZ campus in Mount Pleasant. Parking is outside, and a uniformed gate keeper welcomes visitors with a friendly greeting. Before going down the garden path to the cafe, make sure you explore the retail outlets at the front of the house. The Tile and Bathroom Gallery sells Earthen Fire ceramic and porcelain tiles and a selection of bathroom fittings, while a long verandah and at least three interleading rooms are stacked with antique and collectible furnishings, ornaments, glassware and tableware. There is even an egg shaped bath tub for sale, similar to the one Cleopatra’s servants filled with donkeys’ milk (preserves youth and beauty) for her daily bath.

The cafe is at the back of the house, overlooking an inviting-looking swimming pool and garden. You can sit in the garden, or on the cool, shady verandah. Our table was stylishly set. A rich gold and maroon overlay was placed on top of a pale gold table cloth; wine glasses and flatware gleamed, and a candle flickered inside a tulip-shaped glass candle holder. Our waiter introduced himself as Sweden, and promised to attend to our every need.

The starter menu included fashionable favourites, such as baba ganoush (aubergine dip flavoured with tahini and olive oil) and garlic mussels in white wine sauce (both $96). Retro classics like leek and potato soup, and prawn cocktail, were also priced at $96. Smoked salmon, my all time favourite ($96), was served with a small salad. Smoked salmon needs nothing more than a squeeze of lemon juice, but this had been salted, and was inedible. I munched the home made bread roll (nice) and had several sips of Porcupine Ridge sauvignon blanc to drown the taste of salt, and to clear my palate. Anne’s starter of brie fried in phanko (sic) bread crumbs ($64) never materialised, as our waiter mistook her order and brought deep fried phanko (sic) prawns ($128) instead. For phanko please read panko, a light and crunchy Japanese-style bread crumb made from white bread.

This was a celebration, so we skipped the wraps, salads and quiches, and zoomed in on the steak dishes (all $176) on the main meal menu. Fillet steak was ordered medium rare, but ended up being overcooked. Presented on a sizzling platter, it continued to cook long after it was served. The French fries, however, were well-cooked and tasty. Sweden solicitously enquired if everything was all right, but there was no response from the cooks in the kitchen when I told him that the smoked salmon tasted salty, and the steaks were overcooked.

Elegant table setting at The Gallery Cafe

Carrot cake with pecan nuts and figs ($48) was off the menu, so Anne and I shared a slice of very rich ‘double chocolate’ cake ($64). Mary’s pancakes with maple syrup ($80) looked light, fluffy and delicious. Espresso and cappuccino coffees range from $20 to $30. Needing to drown my disappointment in the starter and main courses, I opted for a coffee cocktail. Frangelico hazelnut liqueur coffee ($35), topped with a dollop of whipped cream, was delectable and easily the best offering of the day.

Our celebratory lunch may not have been a great culinary success, but the wait staff were pleasant and attentive, and the ambience charming. – A Matter of Taste  Charlotte Malakoff

The Gallery Cafe
College Road
Mount Pleasant
Mobile: 0772 402 910
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