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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 Review – Cafe Bella at Hemingways in East London

Cafe Bella restaurant at Hemingways or at Retail Park in Beacon Bay, or Sanook restaurant in Berea? Where to eat out in East London?

Well, our choice of restaurants in East London came down to just two: Cafe Bella at Hemingways or Sanook in Berea. Why just these two East London restaurants? It had to be either Cafe Bella or Sanook as I wanted to cash in on one of two meal vouchers I’d won as prizes in a recent East London photography competition. Prior to earlier this evening, Tony and I had been to neither of these two East London restaurants. Actually, we seldom eat out in East London – or eat out anywhere else either!

My Cafe Bella Meal Voucher Prize Value

We chose to use my Cafe Bella meal voucher prize first, for two main reasons. My Cafe Bella meal voucher prize would expire before my Sanook meal voucher prize would, and, we’re a little low on cash right now. After looking at both Cafe Bella and Sanook menus online, we knew we’d likely want to spend a little more on our meal at Sanook than on our meal at Cafe Bella, and we didn’t want to risk spending over and above a R250 meal voucher’s value, today. We chose to go to Cafe Bella at Hemingways rather than to the one at Retail Park in Beacon Bay, because the Cafe Bella at Hemingways is closer to home.

Cafe Bella Menu

Since we don’t often eat out in East London it was a little exciting wondering what we’d eat at Cafe Bella. Before we left home we had a look at the cafebella.co.za site, and in particular at the Cafe Bella menu. One can click to page through the entire Cafe Bella menu on the cafebella.co.za site. How would Tony and I spend my R250 Cafe Bella meal voucher prize?

We enjoyed looking through the Cafe Bella menu online, and, since we like to save time, it was good to do so before arriving at Cafe Bella at Hemingways already knowing what we wanted. What did we want? What did we order?

There is so much on the Cafe Bella menu to choose from, and although most of the menu items would be considered light meals, I’d say there’s still something for everyone, young or old, hungry or peckish, sweet tooth or not, and for those who love coffee, ice-cream, and waffles, rye melts, wraps, and savoury or sweet pancakes.

Tony ordered a bacon and egg burger and I ordered a mushroom and cheese sauce burger. We also each had an over the top shake.

Upon arriving at Cafe Bella at Hemingways shortly before 5pm, we went over to the counter and gave the staff there my meal voucher. We were told to please go and sit down, and we chose a table close to where people were walking by, so we could do a little people watching while we ate. Even if we hadn’t chosen a table positioned close to where people were walking by we would have still been able to have a clear view of them, since only one other table was occupied. There weren’t all that many people walking by either. 5pm is a little late for shopping and a little early for supper.

Working our Meal Pricing Out

After a quick glance at the prices on the menu we realised that the prices on the online menu we’d looked at earlier had not been updated in a while. We’d have to change our eating plan slightly. We still had the burgers and the over the top shakes, but skipped the sodas. No, two burgers and two over the top shakes didn’t come to R250, but the bill would have been a little over had we had the sodas too. On the online menu these 6 items added up to roughly R246, but in most-recently-priced reality, and as priced on the menu physically before us, they added up to roughly R262. We would be having something to drink by having an over the top milkshake each, so decided to skip the sodas even though the original plan had been to have sodas with our meals, and to have the over the top shakes as dessert. So our meal came to roughly R220 and we just forfeited the remaining R30.

Decadent Over The Top Cafe Bella Milkshakes

We ordered everything at once, and the two over the top shakes came first. Tony was having a coffee flavoured one and I was having a hot fudge flavoured one. I was a bit confused when the over the top shakes arrived. The coffee one looked like it might be a hot fudge one and the hot fudge one looked like it might be a chocolate one. However, upon tasting them, we were certain we each had what we’d ordered. And boy, did we taste them! Those over the top shakes were divine! From where we were sitting we could see part of the Friesland Milk Bar at Hemingways, and I actually caught myself thinking: “No! I must remain faithful to Friesland milkshakes; they’re the best! But …”

My hot fudge (just a flavour, not really hot) milkshake (or Cafe Bella over the top shake) was reeeeaaally good! So so so cold – that’s almost what I remember most about it. That cold was good. Okay, I do also remember that it was also super sweet – just like I like sweet to be – and thick, and, well, delicious! Both Tony and I had to be incredibly strict with ourselves not to just completely slurp up our medium-sized decadent milkshakes right away. “Keep some for after our meal!”

Time for Cafe Bella Burgers

Then it was time to eat our burgers – and they’d arrived quickly. Tony’s bacon and egg burger looked a lot like the picture of it in the menu – good. It’s the only burger picture in the menu and I know I’d been tempted to order it – that bacon on top of the beef burger patty looked good! – but it had an egg on top and I felt like cheese sauce a little more than I did egg, or bacon – well, I felt like bacon and cheese sauce, but there wasn’t a burger option that had both bacon and cheese sauce. There was a bacon, cheese and chutney burger which would have been my choice had the cheese been cheese sauce and not grated cheese. So I’d settled for the mushroom and cheese sauce burger.

I think that Cafe Bella should use smaller plates for the burgers and chips. The plates look a little empty with burgers that don’t look all that big, and just a small handful of chips. Although the burgers didn’t look all that big, as in wide, they were stacked quite high, which made all the difference – had they been on smaller plates they would have looked more appetizing or would have given the illusion of being wider too. That said, however, for those that like to take the top of their burger off and put in to the side of the bottom containing the patty and salad, the bigger plate is perfect for that – and once done, the plate doesn’t look so empty.

I’d really looked forward to my cheese sauce. It was why I’d chosen the mushroom and cheese sauce burger rather than one that had bacon and grated cheese, even though I’d also felt like bacon. I’d expected creamy cheese sauce running all over my burger, but my cheese sauce looked more like one of those thin slices of individually wrapped cheese, that had been melted, and put on top of my fried mushrooms – which seemed more “mushrooms from a can” than fried mushrooms. However, it wasn’t too bad – and the absolutely delicious beef patty made up for it, and so did the delicious chips.

We both ate every last thing on our plates. Cafe Bella is supposed to serve light meals, but I still felt satisfied shortly before I actually finishing eating everything. The Cafe Bella burgers are substantial meals.

Then we slurped up the rest of our over the top milkshakes. There wasn’t much “rest of” left unfortunately. As satisfied as I was after my burger, I could have had another over the top shake as well, perhaps trying a different flavour, and maybe even a third one too – my hot fudge over the top shake was that good!

Popped over to the counter and gave our waitress a R25 tip. She’s been sweet, friendly, and quick.

Do I recommend eating at Cafe Bella?

Well, I’d have to try all their other meals too, before I could give my opinion, but as for their burgers for now? Chips with the burgers good, beef patty divine, bacon on Tony’s burger looked plentiful and tasty – and he didn’t give me a taste! – okay, I didn’t ask him – , but burger cheese sauce not so hot. Do I recommend drinking at Cafe Bella – definitely yes! Through a straw! Their over the top milkshakes!

Our meal out at Cafe Bella was generally good, but I’m also so looking forward to when we eat out at Sanook – and my restaurant review will follow that too! How lucky I was to have my photography help me win two East London restaurant meal vouchers. Thank you Cafe Bella and Sanook.

© Copyright Teresa Schultz 2015

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