I was introduced to Little Stream about a week and a half ago. I’d never even heard it mentioned before then. I arrived and quickly found my way onto a cobbled path that led through an archway and out into a cosy outdoor tea garden and restaurant, surrounded by a grand landscape of lovely flower gardens, little shady glens, and a glistening stream in the middle of it all.
Venturing up into higher ground, I discovered buzzards flying overhead, birds abounding in the trees, but most of all a sense of peace away from the madding traffic and hectic ever-connected way of life we’ve become accustomed to.
Little Stream borders the Groot Constantia and Klein Constantia estates and was donated to the YMCA in 1974. There is a battle on to try and hang on to this little bit of heaven due to complaints about the noise. Noise of little children? How could this really be a noise? We were all little children at some time weren’t we? And this delightful natural retreat needs to be preserved as a pristine haven providing a tranquil refuge, set conveniently between the wine farms and the urban sprawl. But though you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled across Kirstenbosch’s younger cousin, Little Stream is a small patch of nature; it’s just seven acres, but punches well above its weight with gigantic trees on display with all kinds of birds tucked away in the branches (including the Paradise Flycatcher – aptly named for its home in this area), with a little stream flowing through it all thrown in for good measure.
I returned this weekend to see if it still held the same kind of magic a second time around and it immediately welcomed me like an old friend giving me a hug. I decided to stop off for breakfast this time and grabbed a seat at the bustling (but not too busy, or too trendy, or too expensive) Little Stream restaurant. Or, to state it correctly: Little Stream Cafe and Deli.
I ordered the Egg Ranchero: two poached eggs with bacon and a spicy tomato salsa, served on a toasted baguette. Essentially a more exotic version of eggs on toast. Every bit on the plate was exactly as it should have been. The salsa was homemade, rich and smooth. A great accent to the gloriously golden poached eggs that burst into action at just the gentlest of nudges by my knife. A simple breakfast, executed beautifully. Really delicious.
I’m planning a return visit soon (read: this weekend) to try out their lunch menu. We managed to get hold of a copy and everything sounds deliciously intriguing – not over-the-top, not unimaginative, but just enough to be a magnificent dish that’ll please the senses. Never mind that you’ll be enjoying it all in a postcard setting.
So now that you know about this extraordinary hideaway, let’s try to keep this little garden a secret, ok? Just you and your friends. And a few of theirs. And maybe some of theirs.
P.S. Apparently their homemade pasta is a must-have, and their lemon meringue nothing short of legendary.
UPDATE – 8 Feb 2014:
Guess what? We went back to try the lunch menu! It was a lovely warm afternoon so Jason and I both chose a salad.
I ordered the Waldorf: a tasty combination of seared chicken strips, toasted sesame seeds, apple and walnuts, with a creamy mayonnaise dressing. The chicken was filled with flavour, cooked to perfection and just the right side of juicy. The sesame seeds and walnuts were moreish and went together beautifully with the chicken and fresh slices of apple. The mayo dressing brought it all together so nicely that I wished there was a bit more on the plate :) Overall, a top-quality dish that you wouldn’t expect to find in many of the ‘best’ restaurants in Cape Town, let alone a tea garden tucked away in the southern suburbs.
Jason ordered the Thai beef salad: a mix of spicy sirloin strips with fresh ginger, spring onions and sun dried tomatoes with creamy coriander sauce. Jason munched away eagerly, stopping every minute or so to add “ooh” and “mmm” and “this is SO good, you have to try a piece!” The sirloin was scrumptiously tender, coated in sticky Thai flavours, and partnered perfectly with the creamy coriander sauce to deliver endless forkfuls of melt-in-your-mouth moments. Another five-star meal.
Last (but in Jason’s book NEVER least) came dessert. I liked the sound of homemade scones and fresh cream, and wasn’t disappointed with the toasty-warm baked delight that I received. Unlike the many spongy or stodgy scone/muffin creations out there, this was a satisfying combination of crumbly (on top), chewy, buttery and comforting. By this point I could only finish half but make no mistake, we’ll be back with a vengeance soon enough for a proper dedicated tea and scones session.
Jason couldn’t resist the homemade milk tart, described on the menu as ‘crusty and divine’. When asking our waitress (who, by the way, is one of the most friendly and genuinely interested team members I can remember meeting at any restaurant I’ve been to) if it was really as good as the menu suggested, she quickly replied with “VERY crusty and VERY divine, not like an ordinary milk tart that’s flat and dense – a friend and I finished off a slice a while ago and our eyes lit up after the first bite”. Well that was Jason sold! He’s tried just about every type of cheesecake and milk tart out there and summarised Little Stream’s as “the best milk tart EVER”. He doesn’t dish out labels of that sort lightly. He described the tart as “silky smooth, bright and light but creamy and rich at the same time, and composed of just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon – not too stiff, not too wobbly, and no hint of scrambled eggs”. Well done, Little Stream, you now have a sweet tooth fan for life!
Remember the part about telling your friends? I’d choose them wisely if I were you. This experience is a gift that shouldn’t be wasted. We. Will. Be. Back!