Tamboers Winkel: Cool kitchen on Kloof

Ryan’s Butter Chicken hits the spot.

Cape Town is filled with hidden gems and known favourites, and in the ever-changing landscape of the city you might be forgiven if you don’t recognise places like Tamboers Winkel, a tiny hole-in-the-wall café on Kloof Street. But not for long. You may have walked by without noticing it but don’t be fooled, it delivers big. It makes up for its size with fantastic coffee, scrumptious meals, and friendly staff.

Having frequented Tamboers Winkel a few times for quick breakfasts or on-the-go coffees, I felt I should try out its lunch menu while people-watching from one of their two outside tables that look out over Kloof’s streets. Tamboers Winkel is simple in its design, and its menu, but capitalises on that trait. Rather than over-complicating their look and trying to stay with ever-changing trends, the emphasis is on the café style of old with boxes, wooden tables, metal railings and open-plan design. We arrived to find the small interior packed with a mix of foreigners and locals, allowing us to place ourselves in the warm mid-autumn Sunday sun.

We were warmly greeted by one of the Winkel’s regular staff and presented with the menu listing delectable offerings of both familiar and new breakfast and lunch options. I immediately locked onto Ryan’s Butter Curry, which offers either your standard butter chicken, or chickpea, cashew nut and spinach. It looked set to offer great flavours for all diets. Our other options were the Carrot Lox and Farinata, and before you ask, both were vegan but oh so delicious, even more so than some meat options.

The curry was creamy in all the right senses, and bursting with spicy flavour that doesn’t scald the taste buds. For a dish considered the easier of curries, it can often go very wrong, but Ryan has ensured his curry goes down as a flavoursome and satisfying meal. Vegans and vegetarians should definitely try the Carrot Lox, a take on toast with cream cheese and salmon but replacing the cream cheese with a cashew nut alternative, which I will replace for my normal dairy staple in a heartbeat. The smoked carrot slices give off the flavours of salmon through a vegetable. However, if you have time to spare and aren’t dying from hunger, which unfortunately we were, give the Farinata a shot. It is a vegan version of the classic quiche and provides all the creaminess of an egg quiche, and is a portion to duly satisfy. To wash down your meal, I recommend the delectable iced coffee with chocolate and honey to sweeten the deal. Trust me you will come back for it.

In all, Tamboers Winkel is a fantastic stop during your day in the city, but don’t be in a rush if you want a sit-down meal. Meal preparation takes time, but that’s a perfect excuse to sit back, relax and enjoy watching the city go by.

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