Everybody who has travelled to or lived in Cape Town will have some sort of opinion about Observatory. Some might say Obs is the ‘student highlife’, some call it arty, and some just call it downright dodgy. Like so many other areas in Cape Town, though, I think Obs is experiencing a little re-vamp. Or at least that’s what I experienced when I visited Obs last week to try the re-vamped Obz Cafe!

I’ll be honest from the get-go: I’ve never liked Obs. I’m one of those people who thought it was downright dodgy, and apart from venturing that side for some fun at City Rock and delving into the acting world, I didn’t like going there. But, I also hadn’t been there in quite a while, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when visiting Obz Cafe. Turns out, it wasn’t half as dodgy as I thought it would be and I actually felt super comfortable in the area.

Obz Cafe

The Bar Area

Now, to Obz Cafe. We all know that Obz Cafe is pretty much an institution. It’s been there forever, it’s had years and year of success, and it’s gone through many, many changes! In recent years, there has been quite a bit of re-structuring, Jerry’s Burger Bar moving in next door, and an expansion of the menu. Some of this happened a while back and some of this happened more recently when Obz Cafe was taken over by new owners.

The space is lovely – clean, structured, and very comfortable, with lots of warm wood notes and art work decorations. And the menu – well, that was surprising. I had expected to be greeted by burgers and pizzas, which, of course, there were – but there was so much more! I love a good burger or a great pizza, but on the particular night of visiting Obz Cafe I didn’t feel like either of those. So I was super happy to see that they also had a wide range of other dishes available – salads, pastas, and meaty goodness.

Obz Cafe Cocktails

The Cocktails – Margarita and Appletini

My friend Sarah Jane joined me for dinner, and we started off with some cocktails. She had the classic margarita – always a good choice – and I had the Appletini. It was super sweet but had the apple flavour I was craving, so I loved it.

Obz Cafe Sumac Calamari

Sumac Calamari

For starters, Sarah Jane had the Sumac Calamari, while I had the Steak Tartare. I didn’t try any of Sarah Jane’s calamari, but they looked delicious and she was absolutely in love with them. I’ve only had steak tartare once or twice before, but for the last few months I’ve been fascinated by tartare. I blame it on a dining experience in Prague last year where I had salmon tartare for the first time. Now if there’s ‘tartare’ in the description somewhere, I want to try it – no matter how bizarre! The steak tartare at Obz Café was delightful – very creamy and a massive portion, but light and delicious.

Obz Cafe Steak Tartare

Steak Tartare

For mains, Sarah Jane went for the Sticky Ribs with a side of salad and fries. I went for the Grilled Sirloin with a side of veg. Initially I was torn between the sticky ribs and the sirloin, so I was super glad Sarah Jane wanted the former so I could at least try a bit. The portion here was massive – she could only finish the salad and four ribs, and there were still just as many left over! My sirloin was wonderful – a little tough for a medium steak, but not overly so to make eating it any less enjoyable.

Obz Cafe Mains

Sticky Ribs & Grilled Sirloin with Sides

The thing I really want to focus on though is that side of veg I got: Wow! I think we’re all used to just getting butternut and spinach. No complaints as I love those, but sometimes it’s nice to get a little something more. And Obz Cafe definitely delivered here! I got a massive portion of mixed veg – carrots, onions, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms – deliciously grilled. If nothing else, I’d go back just for that!

Even though both Sarah Jane and I couldn’t finish our main meals (they made a great breakfast the next day though), we couldn’t leave without having dessert. Sarah Jane went for the malva pudding, while I had the berry panna cotta. Malva pudding has always been too sweet for me. If I ever do order it it’s only because I’m totally in love with custard. I got lucky this time coz Sarah Jane wanted the malva but she didn’t want the custard that came with it. So I got to enjoy my berry panna cotta with custard sauce. Now that is a delicious combo! The dessert was lovely, slightly tart due to the berries, which worked perfectly well with the sweetness of everything else.

Obz Cafe Dessert

Malva Pudding & Berry Panna Cotta

All in all, Obz Cafe was a delightful experience for a casual dinner. They’re comfortable, unpretentious, affordable, and yummy, which makes for the perfect night out for a date, dinner with friends, or daytime munching. Visit them online or give them a call on +27 21 448 5555 for more information. Or, simply go check them at  115 Lower Main Road in Observatory. Open from Monday to Sunday from 11:00 till late.

Written by Benike Palfi

Review Date: January 2017