Lunch at La Belle
La Belle, Alphen Hotel, Constantia
Cape Town 7848
On Thursday we headed for lunch at La Belle, part of the Alphen Hotel in Constantia. Despite staying fairly nearby in Observatory, we hadn’t been to Constantia before and we were pleasantly surprised by how lovely it was. This side of Table Mountain is much lusher, and the drive down oak-lined streets took us past several stately homes and long driveways. We weren’t surprised to learn that Constantia is the home of old money in Cape Town.
Accordingly, the Alphen Hotel is steeped in history. Originally part of Groote Constantia wine estate, one of the first wineries in the region, guests have apparently included Captain James Cook and Mark Twain. Now that is old. The property is incredibly beautiful, with classic green and white Cape Dutch buildings nestled beneath enormous old Oak Trees and, unsurprisingly, was very busy. We were there for a mid week lunch and it was absolutely packed with other diners sipping on large glasses of local wine.
The building that formerly housed the Boer and Brit pub is now the La Belle Café and Bakery and specialises in salads, sandwiches, (not so) light meals and an array of pastries – you can often see people here early on Saturday mornings buying their treats for the day. Inside, the café seats about 60 people beneath an open thatched roof with a large counter displaying all of the pastries and breads that La Belle has to offer, and there are many.
After spotting the size of the meals arriving at the tables around us, we decided to skip the starter and go straight for mains. The dishes all sounded very wholesome, with plenty of fish and vegetarian options, however, I decided to go for the meatballs and tagliatelle served with parmesan and chunky tomato sauce, whilst Joe ordered the chicken burger, which came with crisp lettuce, tomato, mustard mayo, feta, gherkins and shoe string fries. The meals were both very tasty and enormous, and I caught Joe looking lazily around for somewhere to crawl off and have a nap afterwards before embarking on desert. As this didn’t seem appropriate, we decided to order another bottle of wine, enjoy the lively atmosphere and peruse the extensive pudding menu.
The choice of cakes was immense, providing something for all tastes. We decided to share the gluten free caramel and walnut cheesecake and the lemon meringue pie, which were both delicious and definitely worth the wait. Following dessert, we finished our wine and went for a much needed walk around the large grounds, taking in the beautiful surroundings. La Belle is a lovely place to meet friends for a very reasonably priced lunch, and to while away a lazy afternoon.
Sandwiches: R75-130 (£4-7)
Starters: R70-95 (£4-5)
Mains: R95-170 (£5-9)
Cakes and pastries: R50-60 (£2.50-3)