Arbour Cafe & Courtyard is French inspired cafe located in Birdhaven. This was my first foray into the neighbourhood thanks to discovering the cafe on the Entertainer App.
I love the use of plants at the entrance which is both pretty and welcoming.
This is a popular place on weekends, booking in advance is recommended. We didn’t book so we sat inside before moving to the courtyard once space became available. The inside section is horribly noisy from the banging of cutlery and grinding of coffee. I would advise against sitting here as it’s enough to ruin your appetite.
I had a carrot, apple, orange and beetroot juice for R28. The juice was overwhelmed by the flavour of the beetroot but it grew on me and I quite enjoyed it. My only qualm was I thought the size was on the small side.
Beautiful decor like this tugs at the strings of my heart. Clean, modern, quaint, earthy and pretty are words that best describe this space.
Fresh flowers dons a table filled with cakes, cupcakes, artisanal products and yummy chocolate on sale. I tried the white chocolate and pistachio for R45.
The courtyard is filled with plants, greenery and pretty furniture. There is a hair salon, jewellery store and gift shop that open into the courtyard forming a little community of sorts. I found it a little strange to have people watch me eat and I watching them get their hair done in return. I had high expectations of what the courtyard would look like from reading the reviews but found the private function taking up most of the courtyard space and the towering block of flats that comes into sight when you look up detracted from the experience.
The covered section in the picture below is ideal for a function be it a birthday, engagement, baby shower, high tea or high school reunion. Arbour Cafe is the type of place best described as a local gem. If you live in the neighbourhood you would visit often to get your hair done before lunching, probably run into an aquaintance and have a fat chat with the owner who knows you well.
You can find open sandwiches, salads, duck/beef/chicken mains as well as their signature dishes, crepes (sweet French pancakes) and galettes (savoury gluten free buckwheat pancakes) perfect for pairing with a French cider. The bf had the smoked salmon salad with cucumber, avo, new potato, red onion and sesame seeds with a citrus dressing for R96. A simple, ordinary dish with lovely salmon and good quality ingredients. There wasn’t enough citrus dressing in the salad which he thought should be served on the side for you to add. I don’t think salmon salad is a difficult dish, the salmon is the star of the dish so as long as that tastes great your dish will go down well.
I had the chicken fillet in a light cream, artichoke, sage and lemon sauce served with a parsley crushed potato and steamed seasonal greens for R150. The chicken was tough and over cooked and the the sauce overpoweringly lemony. The bf liked the flavours of the dish but the overcooked chicken let it down. Artichokes and capers are expensive ingredients but R150 makes it a very costly chicken dish. This dish is a good choice for those with a penchant for strong, pungent flavours.
The chairs here fit perfectly with the decor and are not your average garden variety kind. I found our little round table small and awkward to eat at. Apparently calling ahead and booking might help you avoid a small table situation.
I loved the live music, which is sadly a rare thing to find at Jozi restaurants. Service was not great once we moved outside. My drink was cleared away without being offered another. I wrote a review on Zomato after my visit to which the owner replied rather rudely to. If it was my business I would probably also take opinions from patrons quite personally and while I probably could have worded my review better, 3.5/5 score is not slating and deserving of such a response.
I don’t believe in sending back food unless it’s the wrong dish/ undercooked or gone off. Sometimes a dish just doesn’t suit your palette. While this may not mean someone else won’t like it, you can only review what you have eaten and be honest in your opinion of it. Most of the menu items are dishes you would find elsewhere at a lower price with the exception of the crepes and galettes. I haven’t eaten duck prepared well at any restaurant and given that my chicken was stuffed up I’m glad I didn’t choose the duck here. The galettes look lovely but are a rather small portion.
The cafe is beautifully decorated serving simple, healthy food made with quality ingredients in a unique pretty courtyard setting. It’s the perfect setting for a function or lunch. The menu isn’t my style of food but try it, it might just be yours!
Paris & Cafes,