A taste of Freedom Café
Rhubarb Pot. Say it out-loud. Rhubarb Pot. Sounds oddly dirty doesn’t it?
Like something a filthy old man would call his lustful young piece on the side while he showers her in strawberry sauce. I think it’s the pairing of the explosive P and B sounds. Whatever the cause I found myself collecting odd side-long glances from passers-by as I hummed this phrase repetitively after a visit to the Freedom Café in Greyville. I choose to think it was the wording and not my dulcet tones. A Rhubarb Pot is in fact a wonderful concoction of rhubarb and orange compote, topped with a ginger crumble and served with vanilla pod Greek yoghurt. A very unusual, decadent and sneakily delicious mouthful.
I’m not going to lie. Freedom Café is probably the stealthiest of restaurants and it’s almost as if it doesn’t want to be found. I knew it was in St Marys Avenue, but the teeny tiny side roads that vanish into no-where and leave you frantically doing 48 point turns make you wary to venture too deep. That said I trusted Hillary the GPS (the strident tones, resonant of the US Senator make you just want to listen) and crept up the quiet street. The open area on my right with the huge romantic trees beckoned me and in no time at all, my little car was ensconced under a shady branch as I wandered up the path. My confusion as to whether or not it was the right place was largely attributed to the presence of the entire Game marketing department doing a catalogue shoot in the front yard over an open Weber. Once past this however I made my way into the open container for which the café is widely known.
Comfy bar stools line the counter and discreet benches and tables lurk around a corner allowing for a great use of very limited space. I knew there was no way I would be able to sit at the stools as they were dangerously close to the red velvet cheesecake that had been screeching for my attention since I made my way out of the car. So I meandered over to the benches, sat down and hauled out my notebook. Imagine my surprise then, when I glanced up and realised that my blonde locks had been replaced by a Marge Simpson ‘fro! Now while I have no doubt that this would go down a hit at home, I realised it’s not a permanent solution to a bad hair day. The hair silhouettes on the mirror opposite the seated benches provide a cool funky touch (not to mention hours of entertainment as small children dash from one to the other and fall over themselves with hilarity). In fact it’s exactly that, the small touches that make this oasis of calm, such a delightful place to lose yourself for an hour or two.
Those of you who mourned the loss of Vanille Café in Kloof (and many did!) will be relieved to know that Lucy Markewicz’s magic touch is alive and humming in Greyville. Salmon gravalax (has to be tasted to be believed), magnificent burgers, New York hotdogs and of course the aforementioned Rhubarb Pot (seriously just say it aloud once!) abound and the menu changes with the seasons.
All ingredients are sourced locally (as much as possible), and all food is based on the premise that simple, honest food is better than complicated flourishes that leave you feeling somehow unsatisfied. Craft Beer and boutique wines are available and the simply divine lemonade is sourced locally where it is so home-made you can practically taste Aunty Mildred’s goodness as you sip.
The café shares premises with the gorgeous Concierge Hotel, which was locked up tight on the day I visited. Being a true boutique hotel they have the luxury of being able to do this when all is quiet. That said there was a promise of decadence and luxury in the air at the hotel which I look forward to exploring, and as I patted one of the rather long, oversized, sleek, black dachshunds (cast from a 35-year-old mould by the inimitable Egg Designs) I just can’t wait to escape back here again.