An Ode To The Carlton Cafe

Human food is seldom more fresh and real than when sitting in a restaurant surrounded by planter boxes that are filled with the herbs that supply the kitchen. Located in Menlo Park, owner and principal chef Rachel Botes of Carlton Cafe deserves every good thing said about the place. Named for the old Carlton Hotel in Jo’burg, it was in fact an old Carlton Hotel chef’s jacket she found at the hotel’s rummage sale in 1988 that inspired her current standing. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to this gem. It is important to pay homage to the Carlton Cafe as it set the bar for other cafes in town.

From that early seed eventually sprung the Carlton Café. Opened in 2002, it was wowing diners since it sadly closed its doors after 16 years of service. For a smart gal reading law circa 1998, where Botes now stands among the catering giants of Pretoria is a drastic change of direction.

Eating Was a Joy at Carlton Cafe

Botes’ passion for the kitchen was aptly depicted in the venue’s full name: Cafe Carlton Delicious. Everything was delicious. The menu focused on seasonal ingredients, with a prefect balance of healthy eating without losing the feeling of decadent indulgence.
A Carlton short rib sandwich made of Moroccan-spiced shredded beef had the ability to soothe a broken heart or paint a frown upside down. Then there was Botes’ take on Southern fried chicken which established what separated her from the wannabes.

Then there was the outrageously good baked New York style  cheesecake. Although the Cafe didn’’t serve alcohol, you were welcome to bring your own. Some of us, those who spent more time there than in their own kitchen would pop into the wine shop next door to get our fix for the evening. Homemade ginger beer, berry coolers or rosemary lemonade were notorious drinks pouncing across the service floor.

Tshwane Food Fest

A Great Cafe Food Experience

The subtleties of the restaurant trade are not lost on Botes, and staff were friendly and welcoming. Preserves , jams and delicious breads dotted a large table in the middle of the restaurant.

In moving from her first outlet in Irene’s River Meadow Manor in, Botes added a host of products and a diversified menu when moving to the restaurant’s final locale. Some people can dance, some can sing, and some can cook. Botes can “see” a fantastic dish in her mind’s eye before she even slaps ingredients together. We’re just going to hang around and hope that Rachel Botes hops into the kitchen again to wow us off our feet.