A little hidden gem in the center of Cape Town, that offers a warm and welcome escape from the cold winter, is the recently opened Piroschka’s Kitchen. It offers a very small selection of only four dishes, inspired by the Hungarian grandmother Piroschka of sisters Jutta Frensch and Inge Niklaus.
I had heard about Piroschka’s Kitchen a few months ago, but could not find it when described as being opposite the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, but I was looking on Loop Street. It is one of a collection of outlets underneath the Saint Stephen’s Church on Bree Street, near Cheyne restaurant and &Union. Jutta was on duty, and our German roots and guest house experiences connected immediately. When the other guests had left, she sat down, and told me about herself. She came to South Africa to follow her sister Inge, who came to live in Cape Town fifteen years ago. Jutta is an architect by training, and worked on a house she saw in De Waterkant, which became the guest house Cedric’s Lodge that they created, followed by another in Greyton.
As if the two guest houses are not enough to challenge them, the two sisters took on the responsibility of looking after the two children of their late housekeeper, and put them into private schools. To pay for their education, the sisters had to earn extra income, and they decided to start at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, selling Flammkuchen there. The downside for them was that their home smelt of onions, and so they sought a venue in which to prepare it. They found the Bree Street premises, and loved the space, its natural stone walls, and the fact that it offered them a small and cosy space in which to set up a tiny restaurant with a few tables inside. A bar counter takes four chairs, and one can sit outside when the weather is good.
The first thing you feel on entering is how warm it is inside, a modern gas fireplace creating the heat. A welcome sight is the sign that says that Gluehwein is served – a good start to the weekend on a Friday afternoon. The menu is on a flyer on the table and also written on a blackboard, the latter containing the prices. The tables are covered with a sheet of white paper, and a small container with crayons encourages the inner child to come to the fore, and to decorate one’s own table cloth. Jutta tells me that they will photograph the best designs, and make tablecloths from them. Mine served as a handy sheet on which I made all my notes while we chatted.
I ordered the “Hungarian Original Puszta Goulash soup”, which one could say is expensive at R 50, but it was a broth with lots of shredded beef, slow cooked with seven paprika spices in Gypsy style, says the menu. I found the broth a bit thin, and would have preferred it thicker and creamier. It was well matched to the Gluehwein (R25). The Goulash soup is served with a slice of delicious rye bread from Jardine Bakery, but no butter is served with it. The split pea soup costs R 40, while the Flammkuchen costs R 50. Flammkuchen is a thin crispy base covered with creme fraiche, smoked ham, baby leek and red onions, for the savoury option. I had the sweet one, containing vanilla cream, apple slices with cinnamon and sugar, and topped with almond shavings. It was huge, served on a wooden board, and I could only manage a few small pieces, taking the rest home with me, Jutta generously giving me the board as a memento of my visit.
Excelsior and Arabella wines are sold, both being from Robertson, in fact from two neighbouring farms owned by two brothers who do not get on, Jutta tells me, and both love horses and have these as the logo on their wine labels. Pierre Jourdan bubbly is sold at R 160. I missed a cappuccino to have with my Flammkuchen, and Julia quickly organised a good one for me from another restaurant close by. We discussed Social Media Marketing, and I encouraged Jutta to embrace Blogging and Twitter – they are already on Facebook.
Jutta and Inge do private catering, and also offer private functions for up to 30 persons in their restaurant. I will be back, to try the savoury Flammkuchen and the split pea soup, especially on a cold winter’s day, Piroschka’s Kitchen being the warmest place in Cape Town, in its temperature and its welcome! On Saturdays the Piroschka sisters can still be found at the Old Biscuit Mill.
Piroschka’s Kitchen, 106 Bree Street, Cape Town. Tel 083 327 3203. www.piroschka.co.za. (The website is more focused on the activities at the Old Biscuit Mill, and does not have the menu or the wine prices. A large part of it is in German). Open Mondays – Fridays, 11h00 – 19h00.
POSTSCRIPT 27/7 : I returned 10 days after my first visit, and Jutta proudly told me that they have addressed some of the issues raised in this review. Bread is now served with butter, and they have added the menu to the website.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottge.com