61 Loop Street is the home of Eat with Emma, a cafe nestled in the hustle and bustle of the central business district in Cape Town. When I popped in to buy lunch a few days ago a young artist was busy painting a funky geometric pattern onto the wall and the kitchen staff had their hands full trying to get sandwiches, pies and salads ready for the lunch hour rush.
I got to know Emma as a food blogger and her recipe for salted caramel is the one I used to make this swiss roll. When I made Amarula Custard Slices for a house warming a few weekends ago, it was the recipe she made for an Amarula competition that I turned to and the pudding received rave reviews. So, when I met her for the first time that day I had to question myself as to whether I had actually met her before because it felt like we had been friends for ages. I think that is a testament to the power of blogs and social media.
When you read about and interact with people over a long period of time you start to feel like you know then and when you meet them in real life the conversation just carries on. In fact, when the chatting started heading towards the 20 minute mark I thought that making an appointment to interview her properly would probably be a better idea and preferably not during her busiest time of the day.
Interview with Emma Wilson owner of Eat with Emma
When I asked her, “from a catering background to food styling and photography and now a cafe, how did you get here? She told me that the film company that she does food styling for bought number 61 Loop and they mentioned to her that they were thinking of turning the existing superette into a cafe and they asked if she knew of anyone who wanted to go into that line of business. Emma had seen a few places while travelling overseas and had a thought to do something similar at some point in her life and when this opportunity came up it seemed like the right time. It came at a particularly difficult time while going through some personal stuff but she “took the bull by the horns” and went for it.
I asked her what advice should would give to someone who was thinking of opening a cafe in the CBD and she said, “do your homework and get advice, ask for help and get people who are good at what they do to supply the very best for customers”. For example, she uses coffee from Bean There, breads from Rosa’s bakery and cupcakes from Lady Cupcake. She works using a central kitchen which means she gets a few things in bulk e.g. chicken mayo from a caterer in Diep River and assembles everything else on site. This ensures that there is less wastage and also caters to her limitations in a kitchen which is located in the back of an old building that has ventilation and extraction constraints.
From the first week in September Emma will be offering a set breakfast menu (that will change monthly) as well as an office menu where you can phone in your order. If you are looking for a platter or other catering please request it 24 (for cakes and sandwiches)-48 (for canapés and quiches) hours in advance. Breakfast options include Pete’s porridge which is creamy oats with cinnamon, apple and toasted almonds for R30 to scrambled/poached egg on rye bread or bagels for R30 with the option of adding smoked salmon for an extra R10. Most menu times are between R30-R40 and you are sure to find something that will tickle your tastebuds.
You could even order a whole cake for about R180 in case you want to celebrate your birthday or any other special occasion in the office without having to worry about how you will get it into town on public transport or spending the evening before slaving over your stove. I have to interject in here to tell you what excellent value this is. When coffee shops around me are selling cakes at R40 per slice you can do the math and see how very reasonable Emma’s price is.
The idea behind Eat with Emma is “a destination place for really good food, coffee and service”. The focus is on well made food using good quality ingredients within walking distance in the CBD and the menus reflect that. You can pop in for lunch and rest assured that, even if you are vegan, you will find something delicious there. The winter menu consists of things like bobotie pie, curry and stews while the salads range from Mexican bean salad to your more classic garden salad. The coffee is R10 between 7-10am and you have to try Wandile’s wonder mix which is a 60% Kenyan 40 % Rwandan blend that is so popular the coffee shop has been asked to sell bags of beans and freshly ground coffee.
To place your order call (021) 426 1273 or 082 353 0602 before 11am to ensure that they have what you’re craving ready for you for lunch. Contact Emma on twitter @eatwithemma and she will send you a menu for your office whether you need a sandwich for lunch or management is looking to order a platter for a meeting.