Gongwe I watch too much TV because here I make yet another reference, being the hit TV sitcom Friends. Maybe I was just a big fan of the franchise. I got into Friends in high school, where I was young, fun, and already a social butterfly.
The comedy show is centered on a group of six friends (20-30 years old) living in New York and spending a lot of time in a cafe. I loved the feeling of coziness among the customers and the meeting of different people in a common space.
Finally, during my university years in the Western Cape, I was old enough to drink coffee and experience a cafe like Central Park on Friends. It’s a quick stop in the morning, a great spot from the office for a weekday lunch, a saving grace when you’re hungover on vacation, a place to recover (whether with a book or a laptop fully loaded) , and somehow it fills you with good feelings.
Cafe Dijo, tucked away in a nifty corner of the Kgale Hill Mall complex, epitomizes many of the good feelings I experienced on the previously mentioned show. However, in a cafe, the emphasis is on food rather than coffee, although most cafes offer coffee pairings on their menus. Rouy has been at Café Dijo for 14 of the 16 years it has existed. It was great to hear from him as he has the diverse role of being the host, coordinating the floor and the restaurant.
He believes that the family bond and the love that employees have for each other and for their customers is the key to their success. I witnessed this first hand when the manager called the lovely head baker. She is the one who pours all her love into their famous carrot cake. Every carrot cake in the country is compared to their cake and she is proud of it. The selection of baked goods may vary daily. However, carrot cake is standard and they also had delicious fudge brownies (which are to die for), apple cake and lemon meringue.
I might be a little too cautious about food sometimes, which goes against my belief that food is meant to be explored and experienced. That’s what I thought as I looked up at the huge blackboard menu. It has breakfast on the left, specials in the middle, and lunches on the right. I realized in all my visits to Cafe Dijo that I had only ever eaten Grilled Tandoori Chicken Ciabatta. It’s not too spicy, complex in flavor and therefore filling. I shared this with Ookeditse my server for the day and he insisted on making a recommendation. He recommended one of two “new weekly specials.” There is a long list of promotions. However, only two change each week. I found these to be a hit as they were sold out. A friend from a law firm in Finance Park testified that he often takes clients out for lunch meetings and personally enjoys the weekly special at least once a week. My guest and I shared the Mexican Chicken Salad. It was a hearty and generous portion that could easily convince someone to eat healthier. Fresh, crunchy and colorful with a mouth-watering spicy dressing. I would have asked the chef to slightly reduce the intensity of the sauce if the occasion arose. I was a little distracted while placing the order. My guest felt the salad was too spicy, then ordered a juicy hake with a half and half side of fries and salad. I like the idea of sides that give you the best of both worlds. I then shared a chicken and mushroom lasagna with a side of roasted vegetables and fries with my second guest, come to think of it, we should have done strictly vegetables. The assorted vegetables made me forget about our vegetable shortage problem for a brief moment. They were cooked to perfection and paired beautifully with the impeccably balanced creamy and cheesy lasagna.
Café Dijo offers a beautiful ambience, appealing to all with the outdoor garden dining area and open floor plan seating style inside. Even the kitchen is in full view, allowing transparency and an appreciation of the freshness of all meals. Guests seated inside have a full view of the garden, while those seated outside can also appreciate the artwork and furniture inside. A prime hotspot with rugged palate appeal.