I love trying new things. So, needless to say, I was pretty excited when I got the chance to try out YiaYia’s Table, a Greek bakery that opened up in Mowbray a few months ago.
First: Greek bakery?
I may be familiar with spanakopita and syrupy baklava, but I actually know very little about Greek baked goods. And considering I didn’t recognise most things on the menu I studied ahead of visiting, I wasn’t quite sure what types of flavours awaited me.
Turns out, a Greek bakery has quite a few tidbits to offer.
The YiaYia’s Table Story
Unlike most restauranteurs who decided to call it quits (whether voluntary or not) during the stricter lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, the masterminds behind YiaYia’s decided to open up a whole new venture.
Inspired by owner Dimitri’s grandmother (“yiayia” – Greek for grandmother), who first moved to South Africa in 1937 from the Greek island of Lesvos, YiaYia’s Table brings together the traditional family feel in a more commercialised setting.
Opening up during what is probably the most difficult time for restaurants in recent years, the team had to ensure that everything about YiaYia’s table was spot-on.
And with a restaurant space that ticks all the boxes and minute attention to detail in both design and food, YiaYia’s Table set out to revolutionise the Cape Town foodie scene with a touch of Greece.
Entering The YiaYia’s Table Space
YiaYia’s Table doesn’t quite seem to fit into the Mowbray scene, yet it’s certainly doing wonders.
Located on Durban Road close to the famous Fat Cactus I frequented during my UCT Gymnastics days, this new space has transformed the section into a must-visit breakfast and lunch destination.
Hold your Fat Cactus margaritas for later. First, it’s Greek time.
The cafe space is white and classic in design, with a long counter showcasing their goodies at the far end. Plants decorate some of the walls, and there’s a small tribute section to Dimitri’s YiaYia.
The cafe is also lined with counters and ample plug points for all those freelancers slowly starting to migrate back to the coffee shops and away from the miseries of being stuck indoors for too long.
So, what’s on offer?
The YiaYia Menu
YiaYia’s menu is really simple:
- Coffee, Iced Coffee, and Not Coffee (that’s literally on the menu and my new favourite thing)
- Other drinks and smoothies
- Original koulouria (more about this in a bit)
- Phyllo spiral pies
- Greek yoghurt with a variety of toppings
- Cookies, treats, and cakes
While they have a few salads on the menu, this is definitely not the place you want to be visiting if you’re trying to stay away from carbs.
After all, you’d just be miserable with all those delicious smells in the air!!!!
But, First, The Coffee
While we did try the traditional Greek Coffee (R23), a very strong and bold drink, YiaYia’s also has a few unique iced coffee options that are definitely worth exploring.
Sabine had the Freddo Cappuccino (R30; a shot of cold espresso layered with frothed iced milk) and I had the Iced Coffee (R30; a shot of espresso with a vanilla condensed milk and crushed ice).
The Freddo Cappuccino is served separated but you’re supposed to mix it before drinking. It’s still quite strong, so stay away if that’s not your style.
The Iced Coffee is much more easy-drinking and more like a dessert treat. I was very happy that it wasn’t sickly sweet. I love condensed milk but sometimes condensed milk coffees are overwhelmingly sugary.
YiaYia’s get this just right.
The online menu has a few pictures, and I kinda figured koulouria is like a Greek bagel. But while YiaYia’s koulouria look like giant, albeit thinner and more flattish, bagels, they’re not quite the same.
The Original Koulouria (R13) is crispy, though slightly dry, and served either as is or with a condiment of your choice. Options include cheddar, hummus, cream cheese, or jam and butter, and each option is only R10! We had it with hummus.
But YiaYia’s also serves a few stuffed koulouria options, including savouries like olive, feta, and cream cheese, and sweet options like stuffed chocolate or apple and raisin!
We tried the Stuffed Chives, Feta, and Cream Cheese and Stuffed Sun-dried Tomato, Feta, and Cream Cheese options, both R25.
These were quite generously filled and very flavourful without being overpowering.
My favourite was probably the stuffed chive, feta, and cream cheese koulouria – very homely yet sophisticated, and probably something that would work great as a garlic bread replacement on a Braai!
The Phyllo Pastry Pies
From there, we moved on to the pies. YiaYia’s offers a few pie options, served either in the larger spiral form or the smaller cigar shape.
- Spanakopita Spiral (R59): Spinach & feta
- Tiropita Spiral (R59): Feta, ricotta, gruyere, and mint
- Kotopita Spiral (R61): Chicken and mushroom
- Bougatsa Spiral (R46): Sweet creamy custard filling
We tried the three savoury options, and all of them were divine! I don’t think I could possibly choose a favourite – they were all so yum!
The kotopita was a tad oilier than the rest, but I can’t tell for sure if this is because we had it in the cigar shape or if it was because of the filling.
The Best Of Both: Combo Meals
YiaYia’s offers a few combo meal options, where you can enjoy one of the savoury pies with one of their salads for R99.
Salad options include:
- Horiatiki: Traditional Greek salad sans leafy frills.
- Rocket: Wild rocket with goat’s cheese and shredded beetroot.
Salads usually cost R55, so the combo deal is definitely a good option!
Both salads were fantastic – fresh, flavourful ingredients, with olives and basil imported from Greece for that traditional feel. They are a bit oily, though – especially if you’re combining them with one of the oilier pies.
While we really enjoyed them, you may want to ask for your dressing on the side if you’re worried about too much oil from a pie-and-salad combo.
Sweets: Where The Greek Bakery Shines
By now you’re probably wondering: Is there baklava?
I’m so glad you asked.
YiaYia’s Table has a fantastic selection of Greek bakery treats, including baklava and kataifi, orange cake, buttermilk pound cake, chocolate brownies, and a range of traditional Greek cookies.
We tried the Baklava (R48; phyllo, walnut & almond mix, syrup), Chocolate Brownie (R13), and Kourabiedes (R19; Greek shortbread made with farm butter, roasted almonds, and topped with icing sugar).
I’m not usually a fan of the sickly sweet baklava and wouldn’t have ordered this if Dimitri hadn’t insisted we try it.
But I’m so glad he did!
The YiaYia’s baklava is in a whole different league. The phyllo is crispy, the walnut and almond mixture divine, and the drizzle of citrus syrup not overwhelming at all.
It’s made for everyone.
If you like it sweet and syrupy, you can dip it into layers of syrup. If, like me, you prefer a more gentle taste, you can simply enjoy it as is or remove it from the syrup.
The chocolate brownies and the kourabiedes were also divine.
I particularly enjoyed the additional almond crunch in the shortbread, which is quite unlike the shortbread we’re used to locally.
So What Should You Eat?
YiaYia’s Table has also introduced a few egg-style breakfasts, served with their koulouria, and koulouri sandwiches. If you’re not quite sure what to get, you could choose to get one of those for a little taste of Greece.
Or, like us, you could dive right in and try the full monty.
The flavours are all spectacular, with a touch of something unusual without being overpowering. Whatever you have, you’re likely to be impressed.
Contact YiaYia’s Table
Get all the deets below.
Address: 41 Durban Road, Mowbray 7700, Cape Town
Opening Times: Mondays – Fridays 07:30 – 16:30; Saturdays 08:30-14:00
Call: +27 21 689 8837
Article Date: February 2022
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