Light Side Café
Situated in De Waterkant, NOW SHOWING has opened up their fashion space to the pop-up store, The Light Side Café, which sadly only lasted for 2 months ending on the 22nd January. NOW SHOWING is quite an inconspicuous space and we would never have thought there was a fashion store, nevermind a restaurant, if not for google maps and some persistence to find a 4-course VEGAN meal. Yep, you heard me correctly, 4 courses, It’s a delectable tasting menu created by cookbook author Neil Roake. The tasting menu might be slightly out of your regular weekday lunch budget, but it’s definitely worth the extra expense.
The second floor of NOW SHOWING has been transformed into; part restaurant and part miscellaneous goods store, where you can find anything from rose quartz crystals to plants and playing cards, everything is integrated. The restaurant plays off the quirky and enigmatic products and the store benefits from your casual browsing while awaiting your next course. The tables are well decorated with centrepieces that are for sale and vintage books for you to browse through while waiting for your drinks to arrive, which is a choice between the Rosalie Rosé if you feel like a boozy lunch or a cold bottle of sparkling fruit-flavoured soda by Galvaninia (all organic and sugar-free).
With friendly and efficient staff who are incredibly knowledgeable and engaging it was easy to decide between a simple lunch of sourdough bruschetta with avocado, hemp seed coriander pesto and crispy onions or the 4-course vegan tasting menu. To be honest it didn’t take much convincing. Our waiter took us through the menu, highlighting each course with incredible enthusiasm for the food they had on offer.
The Light Side Café tasting menu was unlike anything we’ve ever eaten in Cape Town before. The four courses consisted of a starter, soup, something savoury and a surprise. All of which stunned you with robust and unusual flavours.
To start we received pani puri bombs with puduni pani water and chilli cumin chickpeas – this was my personal favourite part of the entire menu. Why? Well because I got to play with my food, as every 27-year-old hopes to do in public without looking like an ignorant idiot, obviously. Pani puri bombs – little pods of happiness – as we discovered are a common street snack food found in India, it’s a round hollow fried to a crisp bread that you crack open (using your spoon) and fill with flavoured water (puduni pani water) and in this case chickpeas. Not being the biggest fan of a strong cumin flavour, it was quite surprising how much I actually enjoyed the chilli cumin chickpeas. I think it had more to do with how wonderfully the flavours all balanced out.
The second course was a chilled chargrilled cucumber and horseradish soup served with a soy sunflower and flax tapioca crisp. We recently did a gazpacho recipe, where you may have read about our hesitancy towards cold soups, but food has a habit of changing your mind. This soup brought all kinds of flavour to the palette, at first we’d forgotten what the menu actually said and couldn’t pinpoint the exact star ingredient. But the waiter kindly reminded us and the flavours just came bursting through, you eat with all your senses remember. The sunflower and flax tapioca crisp made the soup a joy to eat, snapping and crunching away.
Our last savoury dish was black lentils and carrots served with petit poise hummus, zucchini marinaded in shitake oil and topped with coriander hemp seed pesto, crispy onions and orange segments. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed the lack of coriander in our recipes, but both Kaeli and myself have an intense dislike for coriander (apparently it’s genetic), but their coriander hemp seed pesto, was neither overpowering or put us off from demolishing the delicious food that lay beneath. The hummus was all kinds of creamy while the black lentils and carrots burst with strong flavours.
We finished off with “a lolly for your dolly” which was a simple citrus flavoured ice lolly that completed what we felt was a wonderful, unexpectant lunch perfectly. Their ingredients are simple, but what makes their meals so fantastic is their combination of textures, spices and flavours. Nowhere would we have topped out lentil-like stew with orange segments or marinaded zucchinis in truffle oil. But all these things worked so beautifully it’s difficult to understand why we’d never done any of it ourselves.
We discovered the NOW SHOWING space a little late we do admit, and probably left this review of their pop-up store The Light Side Café a little late, but don’t let that stop you from doing your own research and finding their next venture, in Cape Town or Durban, whatever the owners of the NOW SHOWING space and The Light Side Café have up their sleeve, we have no doubt that it will be another memorable experience.