The stoep is packed to the rafters and the guests seem quite content to hang around till they get the pretty chairs pulled out from under them. Stepping inside we are welcomed into a smallish rustic space, home to Graze where husband and wife team Jero and Catch bring their lifelong passion for Italian cooking to their small cafe on Queen Victoria Street.
When we inquire from Jero whether we might have a look at the wine list, we are informed that the liquor license hasn’t quite come through yet, but we are welcome to help ourselves from the Tops next door (which luckily stocks a few fantastic locals).
Jero, salesman of note, pulls up a chair and starts explaining the menu. Absolutely everything has me drooling, and before we know it he has cashed in on our tantalized taste buds and taken our order, all 3 courses off it, including coffee, leaving us slightly astonished but heartily looking forward to the meal.
The keyword at Graze is certainly home-made, cause everything is!
Jero and Catch grow all the veggies in their award-winning natural backyard garden, which dictates the seasonal blackboard menu.
You are only as good as your suppliers, says Jero and that makes Graze damn good! Ass Jero explains: all the cured meat and sausages are made by my Italian friend down the road, the fish is supplied fresh each day by Boetie Vis, a trusted Gansbaai fisherman, everything not grown by them they source from neighbours (ie local) and so he goes on. He and his Italian father-in-law even takes to the rocks themselves on occasion for fresh mussels and octopus. Ok, enough already, you had me at local…
For starters we sample the caprese -R65 (with home-made mozzarella from a local tannie) and the locally cured bresaola-R60 (the Italian friend again). Both are absolutely Flippen fantastic, drizzled with copious amounts of karoo olive oil (supplied by a buddy in Prins Albert) and has us mopping up the juices with Jero’s artisanal bruschetta (Pana di Mare), made with his- not so secret anymore-ingredient: seawater! Yum!
We order hake – R110 for mains, which arrive as we are still finishing off our starters, and sadly we feel a bit rushed savoring the last few bites of juicy soft mozzarella. Once our mains arrive for the second time, the fish is slightly overcooked, but still a far cry from dry, or any of the usual tasteless frozen hake varieties we get exposed to almost everywhere, and which gives this fish a sadly undervalued rep.
We demand a 10 minute hiatus before dessert. Josua mentions to Jero that he would never have ordered dessert if he knew how stuffed he would be at this point, to which he receives a sly sideways grin which says ” exactly” . We should not have feared though, for dessert was worth every mouthful, and even the unmentionable lifetime on the hips. We sampled the panna cotta and tiramisu as well as a dark chocolate shot glass (more like a thimble) filled with coffee orange liqueur ( need I add home made by…).
These guys are hands on, planting, sourcing, baking, cooking and serving…and it shows!
Their food is natural, unprocessed, local, with little or no interference with nature. Not only that, but they recycle, compost and donate any leftovers to soup kitchens, heck even the business cards are printed on recycled vinyl.
Graze slow food café is open on Friday nights and Saturdays for breakfast and lunch. You’ll find them at 21 Queen Victoria Street. Booking is recommended! Phone them on 082 491 8317 or email firstname.lastname@example.org