Jessica Rushmere opens Swan Café, a charming French crêperie in Cape Town.
‘Bonjour!’ is the greeting you get from the waitron at Rushmere’s new crêperie Swan Café. We’re in Cape Town’s Buitenkant Street, but Rushmere has the glint of a Parisian crêpemaker on the banks of the Seine whipping up featherlight treats on hot plates for you to eat right there.
In France, crêpes are a national dish and sold everywhere. They can be savoury too, made with buckwheat flour and a variety of fillings, in which case they’re called galettes. Swan Café serves both.
The farm in France where Rushmere grew up is on the other side of Brittany, where the crêpe was invented in the Middle Ages, and after completing a master class in crêpes in Rennes, she’s passed her knowledge on to her Cape Town staff. Their thin, lacy-edged crêpes are so delicious that the city’s French community has been flocking to Swan Café.Perhaps the wall murals of the Greek princess Leda and her lover the swan have something to do with it.
This is Rushmere’s second French café in Cape Town, with La Petite Tarte in De Waterkant being her first. This time she approached interior designer Haldane Martin, and together they produced a riot of blues with touches of white and red, while a swan logo created by graphic designer Heidi Chisholm pops up on everything from trays to the floor tiles. Martin’s range of mainly beechwood furniture is complemented by copper-hued birdcages on the ceiling containing Hoi P’loy’s vintage lightbulbs, while the Leda wallpaper custom-designed by Cara Saven using famous paintings is the pièce de résistance.
Ultimately, though, what counts most at Swan Café is the food. Rushmere’s menu is full of tantalising combinations. Her Out of the Blue galettes have a mix of blue cheese with red wine-poached pears and prosciutto, a classic taste sensation heightened by sprinkles of Emmenthal and Gruberg cheese and kicked up by the delicious crunch of candied walnuts.
Another satisfying choice is the aptly named Lili La Gourmande crêpe, served with caramelised apples in a sublime, salted-caramel sauce strewn with toasted flaked almonds. And for beverages, there’s an array of inspired speciality teas, each with its own provocative ingredients and blended for Rushmere by Nigiro tea merchant Mingwai Tsai. Also on board is Kalk Bay micro-roastery Damn Fine Coffee.
Text: Hilary Prendini Toffoli Photographs: Adam Letch
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Swan Café is open Monday-Friday from 8am-4pm and on Saturdays from 8am – 2pm. Corner Buitenkant & Barrack Street, Zonnebloem, Cape Town.