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Terry and Tony in South Africa. Two South Africans working from home in East London in South Africa since early 2008.

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Cafe Bella – Eating Out at “The Cafe Beautiful”

One of the prizes Terry won at a recent photography competition was a meal for 2 at Cafe Bella.

I am not generally critical of restaurants and cafes – no reason why I should be, because they save me a lot of time and effort, and at the end of it all I can just get up and walk away, knowing that there is a being somewhere within the host organization who will restore the crockery and cutlery to cleanness, to be used on someone else.

Upon arriving at Cafe Bella we let the staff know we were there with a voucher – just to ensure there were to be no awkward moments later. The young lady we spoke to first referred our voucher to another young lady, who confirmed its authenticity, and asked us to take a seat at any of the empty tables. There were lots of these, but then, it was still quite early – too early for the supper crowd.

The tables were, as cafe tables go, a decent size, and the chairs, as cafe chairs go, reasonably comfy. I couldn’t see any evidence of previous meals on the surface of the table – something which made me feel better about the fact that there was no table cloth. Good grief, cafe tables have table cloths don’t they?

Our Cafe Bella waiting-person was there with the menus very soon after we sat down – something I appreciated. The other thing I appreciated was the first smile since arriving.

We ordered burgers and over the top shakes.

Terry had the Fried Mushrooms and Cheese Sauce Burger, with a beef patty, and a Hot Fudge Over the Top Shake.
I settled for a Bacon and Egg burger with a Coffee Over the Top Shake.

The shakes arrived before the burgers did. The Coffee shake, if you’re a coffee lover, was super. It tasted like coffee, it wasn’t over sweet, it was deliciously cold, and perfectly thick. Terry’s Hot Fudge shake wasn’t too sure if it was Hot Fudge or chocolate – we jointly decided that it would be Hot Fudge. Terry loved her shake after we established its true identity.

The Cafe Bella Burgers

When the burgers arrived, I was a bit concerned that the burger appeared to have too much white space on the plate, and that the few chips with a sprig of parsley were only accentuating the fact that the rather tired looking bread roll encasing the Burgerly goodness was a bit on the tiny side.

I flipped the top of the roll off to examine the contents of the burger, and was pleasantly surprised at what the kitchen staff had managed to fit into the roll. Right on top was the egg – soft as requested (Note to self – should I ever order one of these Cafe Bella burgers again, NO sweet chili sauce on the egg).

I left that side of things to itself while I addressed the chips and the top of the roll. Perfect! The chips were delicious – crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. And not too many chips for the roll.

Back to the burgers side of things again.

The egg was removed from its position of prominence, and dispatched.

Below the egg I came across two impressively sized bacon rashers. This was not from any packet I’d used. The rashers were a good size, and thick. The bacon had the beef patty hiding away beneath it. The patty itself wasn’t that small. I did consider putting it in my palm, to more accurately gauge its size, but decided not to. It would fit, and hang over the edges a bit as well.

Beneath the beef patty was a serving of fried onions on tomato slices and lettuce, and then the other half of the bread roll.

Let me add at this point that I am probably the only person on the face of the planet that will eat a burger layer by layer, rather than expertly sliced vertical chunks.

The beef patty was outstanding. I suspect that the patties are made for the cafe. Enough beef to be beefy, moist, and a subtle touch of herbs. I loved the beef patty.

As for the rest of my Cafe Bella burger: Lettuce is lettuce. Tomato is tomato. Fried onions are fried onions, although they could have been cooked a little longer, but that wasn’t a deal breaker. What did make me a bit miff is that either the bacon or the onions had caught and burned, and had water added to loosen it, then allowed to lay in the water, which introduced a bit of bitterness into the onions or bacon. I’m not sure which it was, but it was definitely there. I suspect the bacon, as Terry also had onions, and no bitter taste.

That was enough reason for me to decide I would not sit down and eat at Cafe Bella again, but I will definitely go there again – repeatedly – for the Over the Top shake!

I admit that I didn’t give Terry’s burger as much attention as I did mine, but what I did notice, and which Terry pointed out to me, is that the cheese sauce looked very much like a very well melted slice of pre-packed cheese. Other than that I rather suspect that Terry totally enjoyed her burger.

On second thoughts – I may well go back to Cafe Bella to eat – the chips are worth it.

© Copyright Tony Flanigan 2015

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