Bob’s Bagel Cafeby Dominique Herman / 21.08.2013
Cape Town Tourism’s slogan “You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town”, modified for Capetonians could read, “You don’t need a holiday, you need Kalk Bay.” This cutesy False Bay fishing village might only be a 30-minute drive from the Atlantic Seaboard, but it might as well be on another planet. As Bob tells me at his new bagel cafe called, aptly enough, Bob’s Bagel Cafe, the locals don’t care about flashy clothes and fancy cars. They tend to be focused on family, community and the surf. And, up till this point, they’ve been hard up for a good bagel.
A signposted vintage red VW combi on the book-and-antiques-shop-lined main road points the way up a side street to a pottery shop owned by Bob’s wife, tucked into the back of which is Bob and his bagels. Social development entrepreneur and weekend baker, Jeremy Barty, produces the bagels and this is the first time they’re available to the public. Barty lives in Kalk Bay and makes the bagels to authentic boiled standards – one in the Montreal sweet tradition with molasses and the other in the NYC savoury tradition with stone-ground flour. During the week he develops bread making as a micro enterprise with portable wood fired low cost ovens.
Bob, aka Robin Pollard, was born in the UK and until recently lived with his family in the City Bowl suburb of Tamboerskloof. They relocated to St James where Bob spends his afternoons in his private architectural practice and his mornings tending the coffee machine at Bobs.
The bagels at Origin, in central Cape Town, though lacking the charm of their Kalk Bay counterpart’s backstory, are pretty hard to beat (and having lived in NYC for seven years I’m seasoned in the art of bagel eating). But they’re made for a different, charged-up crowd – one wielding smart phones and laptops whose biggest bagel making decision needs to be sesame or poppy seed. Especially considering ordering a coffee at Origin can make your head spin both in the choice of beans and method of preparation.
Bobs is a rustic joint, open mornings for conversation and catching up with the neighbours, where kids, Bob’s included, run in and out from the patch of park outside. There might be bagels with American and Canadian inspired characteristics here, but there’s only one type of coffee bean (supplied by a Mother City institution called Deluxe) and one machine in which to brew it.
The beauty of Kalk Bay is in its potent recipe for relaxation: the salty air and soundtrack of crashing waves; the train atmospherically rumbling by; its smorgasbord of boutiques, galleries and eateries – including a celebrated bakery called Olympia and a much buzzed about newbie tapas bar called La Parada; not to mention the best ice cream parlour on the False Bay coast. It’s also the meandering layout of the place that does it – the steep narrow alleys that split off the road in between buildings where you can trip up to charming and delightful holes in the wall, whose ranks Bobs Bagel Cafe has now joined.
6 Rouxville Road on the Lever Street park, Kalk Bay, Cape Town; 083 280 0012