Trains, canes & hungry dames – Kalk Bay Eating

This post was originally from June 23 2014 on a different blog.

Today was a day with Ma (my grandmother).

Exhibits A – C: Ma, Tea, Cappuccino

We’d planned to go to my eat out in my neighbourhood, but it seems Mondays are not good days for people in the Southern Suburbs.

So we went on an adventure. Uh, all the way to Kalk Bay. We even gave a guy in what can only be loosely referred to as a car, pulling what what looked like a dangerous heap of rubble which had got stuck to the back of it, a jump start on the way back. I got the distinct impression that this was the vehicle Douglas Adams was describing in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, when he created Schecter’s ‘alleged car’. I also got the feeling I was just enabling this poor soul in the continued use of this ‘car’, but Ma was egging me on, so I think I did the right thing. First use of my jumper cables, too!

My grandma is a blast. Always ready with kind or filthy word, she can lift you up or cut you down with a mere whisper. Don’t let her slow walking speed fool you either. She’s usually on to you & will catch up with you eventually.

We spent the afternoon gossiping, critiquing our meals, and enjoying the rare warm weather on this charming winter’s day.


Says 19 but felt like at least 23 today. No wind! No wind!

On a whim (largely because Ma side-eyed the extra 100m between our parking spot & the next restaurant), we tried out the Expresso Cafe (normally this name would kill me, but it’s a train! A real, 100 year old train carriage).

If you like trains (trains? Did someboday say trains?), you’ll enjoy this little place. There are a few similarly-themed eateries about the city, but this one’s right on Kalk Bay station, and has a nice view of the goings-on around that hippie-pit. It’s quiet, and run by two ladies locked in what appeared to be a life & death scrabble match, and we were both referred to as ‘girls’ and ‘love’ by one of them, which was charming.

Expresso, Kalk Bay. Source:

Now, the menu is rather small (and 50% is, um… pancakes. Don’t ask.), but the prices are great. Most of it’s under R60, and the food is unpretentious & tasty. Ma did send her calamari back for another go in the fry-basket, but she admitted that she’s a fussy eater while eyeing me & my vegetable stir-fry pancake as though it offended her sensibilities. Sorry, I left out the bit where my entire pancake (filled with fried veg) is covered with melted cheese. I almost got the feeling they’d been watching me for some years now & anticipated the most peculiar & me-ish dish I could have come up with. And added extra cheese.

We loved the place so much that, despite our happy bellies being full, we sat around for dessert & a smoke (well, Ma smoked, I complained) while we discussed the meaning of life, the expense of cheese & the value of getting a good glass of wine in now & then.

Ma, meet dessert. Dessert, meet Ma.
Ma, meet dessert. Dessert, meet Ma.

I got lucky with this grandma. Even after I almost caused her to choke with my suggestion that she get a stylish cane to aid her daily perambulation (her gasp was followed by a graphic tale about a family member who had an unfortunate cane-cracking incident, which apparently served as the only necessary argument against my offensive recommendation), she humoured me by strutting about the shop next door with some of the vintage canes they had on display. She has a hilarious sense of humour, and I feel like a happy kid again & not like the crotchety dame I’ve become. I even admitted that I’ve been eyeing a few canes myself for my gammy ankle & she almost swatted me with one, so I shut up about it.

Me, pre-caning.
Me, pre-caning.

I won’t let another decade go by before I realise how much I miss spending time with my grandmother. She taught me how to love stories, how to do basic multiplication, and always let me have a Marie biscuit at night after I snuck out to watch Dynasty with her. You can’t have my grandma, because I already have to share her with a lot of cousins, but I recommend that if you are able to (and you enjoy her company as I do mine), spend as much time as you can with yours. Take her to Expresso, even! Just the two of you, a weird & tasty pancake or two, and some good old gossip.

Expresso details:
PHONE:021 7888843
ADDRESS: 73 Main Road, Kalk Bay, Cape Town (right at the Kalk Bay train station).
They serve a small selection of beer & ciders too.
They close early (16.30 in winter, 17.00 in summer), but they can host your social event in their amazing tiny train-car venue for around R280 per head at present.


1 Comment

  1. Ah wow, you’ve really made me miss my gran now. I’m glad you’re appreciating your gran while she’s still around! Wish I could hug mine one more time and tell her I love her.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s