FINALLY, the day arrived that my husband took me down to the local for lunch – about bloody time if you ask me. The venerable Glencairn Hotel has been renamed so many times I can’t really keep track. It’s been The Glen, The Southern Right … And there were times when my mates referred to it as “the Nuisance” (related to the Great Dane Just Nuisance, whose stomping ground this used to be).
Currently, it’s The Glen Lodge, also the site of Bay Café on Glen, which operates out of the hotel. On beautiful days it provides one of the most enjoyable outdoor terraces, and in winter you can huddle indoors by the fires.
Never mind Camps Bay and its botoxed Beautiful People with Big Cars. When the wind isn’t howling, this part of the False Bay coastline is the place to be (and possibly the reason I prefer living in the sticks) and has a wonderful, unpretentious buzz.
The husband and I weren’t the only ones out for Sunday lunch, and we took a chance popping down without making a reservation. This is a popular spot for visitors to pull over for a quick bite before they head on to Simon’s Town, or a scenic drive around Cape Point. (My advice is to book a table.)
The vibe is unfussy and relaxed – possibly too relaxed, as we later found out. The husband usually has his business lunches here, and he waxes lyrical about the burgers, which is what we opted for, but the menu looked promising with the addition of Portuguese-style food to its usual fare of gourmet burgers and a variety of other dishes to satisfy most. Even better (and a big thumbs up from me) is that they stock non-alcoholic beer.
Being health conscious, the husband and I opted to replace our fries with salad, and our burgers arrived looking far more festive than usual. And they were just right – not too dry and very flavourful. The husband had his with the ubiquitous pepper sauce and I went for Camembert and a sweet chilli sauce.
And kudos to the chef for making that salad inspiring. I’ve eaten at far too many places where the idea of salad is limited to a handful of sad lettuce and mealy tomatoes that fail to hide the limp, slimy cucumber.
We knew we shouldn’t opt for dessert, but as the husband says, he always has space in his dessert stomach – but unfortunately this is where the wheels of our dining experience came off. We were able to extricate menus for dessert, but then the staff deserted us. We waited. And waited. I tried the whole “waving not drowning” approach, to no avail.
Whether this was just our bad luck to have chosen a perfect day when the whole world and his wife had decided to lunch there, or just the genuine misfortune of the Bay Café being short-staffed, I don’t know. We decided to bake dessert at home and brew our own coffee.
My verdict: if you’re not in a hurry, and the café isn’t too busy, this is a wonderful spot to kick back and chill. There’s the Stoep & Swing bar next door, and a little down the way you can ogle the motorbike enthusiasts in their leathers as they visit their hangout. With views across the wetlands and the False Bay Coast, all the way to the Hottentot’s Holland mountains, I couldn’t complain too much. Mostly, I enjoyed a bit of sun in my face and relished the fact that I’m a resident of the far south peninsula.
Bay Café on Glen, 12 to 14 Glen Road, Glencairn, Cape Town, is open for lunch and dinner, six days a week. To book, call 021 782 0315.