The Woodstock Exchange enhances Woodstock as design hub of Cape Town!

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A visit to The Woodstock Exchange last week reflected how Woodstock is growing in stature as Cape Town’s design hub, not only in terms of digital design, communications design, but also in terms of food. The Woodstock Exchange opened in December, and has an interesting mix of design-related tenants, restaurants, and food suppliers.

Superette is the most visible tenant from the striking grey and yellow building exterior, taking one of the largest spaces of the building, and its branding is visible from the street on the windows and its canopies.  A number of trendy Vespas are parked outside, and they add to the design attractiveness of the building.  A central passageway has a listing of all the tenants in the building, the upstairs floors occupied by the design agencies with trendy and interesting designer names, such as We are Awesome. Social Plus One, Nice One Steve, Wetink, Wolf & Maiden, Sons & Daughters, and Smellsgood.

My first stop was at Honest Chocolate, where I found Michael de Klerk, in an almost replica of their Wale Street shop, but with a massive back end space, in which they now have a team making the chocolate. They have expanded their repertoire to include three very unusual ice cream flavours, each having a super food added to them, for example Lucuma (a Peruvian fruit) Coconut, Chia (a seed) Chocolate, and Spirulina (seawood) Mint Chip, and costing R34. Michael explained that raw cocoa in itself is a superfood, and the added flavours complement their chocolates. We spoke about their first Design Indaba attendance, where they ran a competition for chocolate bar wrappers, which they extended on to their Facebook page.  He said that The Woodstock Exchange tenants support each other and that they network.  They had considered the V&A Market on the Wharf, but had been worried about the winter trade, Michael said.  Tel 082 736 3889.

Michael referred me to his next door neighbour Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour, a quirky interior giving a parlour feel, with a chest of drawers, and very clever use of old suitcases serving as shelving to display antique tea cups and picture frames. Jessica Bonin started her business in 2010 in an old Jurgens caravan, which she moves to events, or is at Oudekraal with other food trucks.  She wanted to start a ‘tea-volution’, and sells special looseleaf teas, which are classified as being black, white, green, yellow, Oolong, and Puerh.  She describes her business as a ‘Purveyor of magical infusions and tasty curiosities’. Tel 0836282504

Dark Horse and Kingdom are a mix of two design elements forming a whole inside the shop. Dark Horse is a local design studio offering apparel, homeware, and furniture.  Kingdom is a ‘curated exhibit’, I was told, of art, vintage pieces from antique shops sourced from India, Berlin and Denmark.  I was attracted by the hats, some having a vintage feel about them but are brand new. They also sell designer sunglasses, crockery, and jewellery.

Simply Wholesome was a huge disappointment, the shop assistant Gloria being extremely suspicious, withholding information, and not customer-friendly. She emphasised their free-range pasture-reared and grass-fed products of chicken, eggs, bacon and beef.  A big sign in the shop spells out their dedication to sourcing quality products ‘fresh from the farm’, which they monitor at source regularly, they claim. They sell some ready-made pies (R28), quiches (R28), sandwiches (the egg mayonnaise sandwich was on a nice seeded roll but had barely any filling), biscuits, muffins, milk, cheeses, butter, seasonal vegetables and fruit, home made marinades, gluten-free biscuits, raw honey, olives, peach slices, apple cider vinegar, satin tea bags, chutney, pickled onions, Madecasse chocolate, and yoghurt. They also sell teas under the Organic label from The Tea Merchants, the business of the co-owner.  I did like the glass tea pots, with matching glass cups.  They only sell take-out products, and do not have any seating outside their shop to even allow one to eat their sandwiches!  This was the only unfriendly experience in the whole centre.  Tel 021 447-6426.

I just missed the kitchen being open at Ocean Jewels, and bought a packet of calamari (R45) to make at home.  They still have their stand at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, and are widely regarded as selling the best quality fish to consumers.  Her sit-down prices are very reasonable, with tuna and salmon burgers and salads costing around R50. Fishcakes, potato wedges and salad costs R30, and hake and chips costs a little more.  They sell prawns, clams, mussels, crabsticks, scallops and smoked salmon too. Tel 083 582 0829.

The friendliest of all the outlets was Pedersen & Lennard and {Field Office}, a furniture design and coffee shop all in one, a sister branch to the one in Barrack Street.  The space in the Woodstock Exchange is larger and has more light, opening on to a sunny deck.  The manageress Roberta Grantham is ex-Botswana, and the friendliest I have experienced in a long time.  She made the visit there an absolute pleasure.  Other than making Deluxe coffees, they do not prepare any food, selling Willy’s Foods’ sandwiches (R35), pies with interesting ingredients such as beef red wine, lemon and chicken, curried vegetable, and beef chocolate chilli (R30), and salads; and lovely lemon polenta cakes (R15), chocolate brownies, milk tart slices (R20), and cup cakes (R15) made by The Little Bakery.   Tel (021) 447-2020. Monday – Friday 8h00 – 17h00.

I arrived at Superette just after the kitchen had closed at 16h00 (an hour before the restaurant closed!), and I was unable to order anything other than liquids from the waiter. When the manager Vuyo returned, he was charming, and I asked him for a simple rye toast with cheese and avocado, which tasted like heaven after an afternoon in the centre and not being able to eat (other than the milk tart) elsewhere in the centre because of the kitchens having closed!   The interior is large, with lots of yellow, a stand selling deli items (including olives, olive oil, Secateurs wines by AA Badenhorst,  honey, nougat, Rosetta coffee – also in the centre but which I did not see, Fruit crisps, Dunk biscuits, rusks, Prince Albert olive oil, tomato chili), and plants hanging from the ceiling, much like Dear Me has.  They serve an all-day breakfast, in a price range of R35 for kippers to R70 for a smoked salmon egg basket.  They also offer toasted banana bread, mushrooms  and beans on toast, and an interesting sounding Nutella-stuffed French Toast! Sandwiches cost R55 – R65, including one with Bratwurst! Bangers and mash costs R65.  A nice touch is that a glass of water is brought to the table automatically.  Tel (021) 802-5525.

The Woodstock Exchange, 66 Albert Road, Woodstock.  Tel (021) 486-5999.  www.woodstockexchange.co.za Twitter @WdstockExchange

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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2 replies on “The Woodstock Exchange enhances Woodstock as design hub of Cape Town!”

  1. We are not avid bloggers and quite frankly we are not very good at Facebook or Twitter either so it took a while for us to read this blog.

    Firstly we apologise for the negative experience you had at Simply Wholesome in Woodstock Exchange. Gloria is a relatively new employee and was not confident in handling the situation at that time. What this highlighted for us is the fact that we have not given Gloria sufficient training for which we as owners of the business take full responsibility. We shall make it an absolute priority to rectify this situation immediately.

    Regarding the seating, we tested this at a recent evening event when we hired some cocktail tables and bar stools. It was well received and we are looking around for suitable furniture that will be in keeping with our image and that of the center.

    Our sandwiches do rather speak for themselves in that we always sell out and the compliments we receive are always positive. Perhaps the proof of the sandwich is in the eating

  2. Thanks for your feedback Marcell, and for your chilli chicken kebabs I received from you at the Hope Street Market recently.

    Chris

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