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Coffee Shop Review: Café on Main

Shahen Naidoo

I have waited a long time to say that I enjoyed anything gluten free, but I've finally found a place that makes gluten free treats that are better than anything I've ever had before. So if you're after gluten free fair you're after, then Café on Main has to be your next stop. It's conveniently located at the Morgenster shopping centre at 3 Main Road Irene. You will find Café on Main a stone throw  away from the Irene Primary School and makes a perfect coffee stop after dropping kids off. 

The rustic country ambiance of this coffee shop perfectly fits Irene's "farm in the city" vibe. The rustic charm is classy enough to be chosen as the location for a photo shoot. A young couple entered while I was there, and used the shop as a backdrop for their first anniversary photo shoot. I couldn't help but wonder if the place also had some sentimental history to it for this couple. 

The staff and owner seem to know their regular visitors well enough to have a quick chat as they enter, and are quick to introduce themselves to first time customers as they enter with a friendly chat. 

Café on Main has a great selection of cakes, macaroons, and other sweet and savoury treats to make you have to keep going back to try them all out. The tables inside are so inviting on a winter morning, but they also have a few tables outside if you prefer the open air. They are open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 2pm on weekends.

I was there a few days ago looking for a coffee and something sweet for a mid morning snack. There was a cheerful, mouth-watering smell of cookery in the air and the unmistakable smell of fresh pastries emerging from their ovens had my nostrils twitching. 

The owner, Belinda de Wit, greeted me as she was bringing out a fresh batch of Bobotie pies from the kitchen. I walked in craving something sweet, but I am such sucker for a good pie - and these looked irresistible. I had to try them, and it didn't take much for Belinda to convince me. I'm used to seeing the old favourites like Chicken and Mushroom or Steak and Kidney pies on a menu, but the Boboti Pie was unusual enough to whet my appetite. And I was not disappointed. The pastry was light and fluffy, and the filling warm and wholesome. The sweet mince was not something I was used to in a pie, but it worked so well. It's perfect winter morning treat.

It came with a small side salad. I usually treat the salads served with a pie as just garnish used to fill up the plate, and I seldom end up eating the salad. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself unconsciously tucking into the salad too. 

A cappuccino is my go-to drink whenever I visit a new coffee shop. It needs to start with a great espresso shot, and be served at just the right temperature. This cappuccino was rich with a smooth foamy top and I found myself needing another cup of coffee to finish off my meal. My waitress convinced me to try one of their plungers. I am really fussy about the dosing and the extraction time for my plunger (take a look at the "Take the Plunge" blog post to find out what makes a superb plunger coffee), and it's this detail that takes a plunger from being good to truly superb. Having said that, this is really is a personal preference, and I thought that the plunger coffee from Café on Main was good - it rounded off my mid morning meal really well. 

I went back with my son a few days later. I needed to satisfy my craving for one of their sweet treats, and this time I didn't let the other menu items distract me. I ordered the Chocolate Brownies and a plunger coffee. This was unquestionably the best chocolate brownie I have ever had - and it was gluten free! In fact, Café on Main seems to specialise in gluten free baking. 

My son ordered the Chicken Soup and a hot chocolate. My son cleared out his bowl of chicken soup without uttering a word between mouthfuls. He loved it! 

I highly recommend Café on Main. The food is wholesome and heartwarming, the staff and owner are warm and friendly and it's a great place to meet friends. Order to eat in, take away. They do catering and custom specialty baking too. Take a look at their Social Media pages (@cafeonmainirene) to see what else they offer .

As I left, I offered Belinda a sample of Coffee Notes beans. Hopefully she will try it. I would love for Coffee Notes to become a part of this wonderful coffee shop.

 


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