Trying new things is always easier said than done. For months one hears about ‘this place’ or ‘that club’ without actually initiating a visit. Mango Ginger Bakery fell into this category for me, so I was pleased when it was suggested for lunch. After hearing the odd whisper about this little bakery / coffee shop, the fact that it was situated in trendy Observatory escaped me.
About a decade ago, Observatory could be equated to the African (albeit much smaller and less developed) version of London’s Camden Town. Filled with small restaurants, bars and clubs ‘Obz’ was a playground for those who supported subcultures of music, fashion and art. Sadly over time stores started closing and crime rising. However, over the past year and a half, the area has slowly started increasing in popularity. This largely owed to the closing of ‘Roots’ (formerly Cool Runnings) and the opening of Trenchtown, a branch of the popular Banana Jam chain.
The young middle class are moving back to Obz in droves, dozens of foreign students continue to move to the area, as a result, many new bars and restaurants are popping up along Lower Main Road, including the charming Mango Ginger. Named as a bakery and coffee shop, the service is very attentive, welcoming and warm. There are daily specials in order to keep the menu fresh and it seems the ethos of the shop is to include healthy extras on every day delights. For example, the sandwiches are available on freshly baked bread (ciabatta, brown, seedload, etc) with a salad that may be included for a small extra fee.
Now usually restaurant side salads are old and stale with a slop of dressing poured over the top in an attempt to perk it up upon serving, but not at Mango Ginger. The extra salad isn’t the usual boring and dull offering, here it is packed with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, baby shoots, and avocado, to name a few, accompanied by two salad dressings complimentary on the table (raspberry dressing and an olive oil, balsamic, honey, concoction) which makes the salad a part of your meal, opposed to decorative which is what they usually surmount to in most restaurants.
With an extensive menu ranging from salads, wraps, sandwiches, quiches and daily specials to bakery delights such as wheat free cakes and gluton free treats, Mango Ginger offers its clients a clean and healthy eatery, WITHOUT the usual boredom associated to healthy food! The staff seem to have a genuine passion and interest in the food they are serving, convincing the customers that green can be lean and a dream!
The only draw back to the eatery is that sitting outside may lead to strangers approaching your for change or cigarettes, however, this is common to most cafes that are partially hosted outside and is not specific to Mango Ginger. If this bothers you, ask for a table inside the cafe. Although the interior is on the small side, it is the perfect location to meet a friend or small group during the day for a catch up over quality food for great value.
(Corner of Lower Main Road and Trill Road, entrance on Trill Road, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa)