he cynics among us believed it was never going to happen. After cable thieves brought the Metrorail southern line to a stop at Retreat in October last year, the coastal section to Fish Hoek would simply rust away over time and become another relic of a looted state. Even the more hopeful among us had given up on the restoration of the one-track line between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town. Drifting sand, corrosion and lack of maintenance left that line unused for years.
Then a small miracle occurred. In late December, trains were running all the way to Fish Hoek again, and on 5 January, beachgoers were amazed to hear an old familiar screeching around the bend, with a grey and yellow train crawling past Glencairn. Suddenly, the False Bay world was recalibrated.
The southern line service to Fish Hoek is almost back to its former glory, although still sketchy between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town. However, it has opened up the scenic splendour of False Bay once again, and so we celebrated by treating ourselves to coffee and pastries at a little Simon’s Town secret, The Sweetest Thing.
Tucked away toward the northern end of Simon’s Town’s olde-world Victorian strip, the narrow shop front, standing out with its yellow umbrellas, belies the depth within, although the scrumptious tarts on display provide a hint. The café runs back, ascending through three spacious rooms before opening out to a courtyard for those who prefer the open air. And it delivers on the promise offered by the Parisian-style street display of its offerings ranging from dark chocolate mousse brownies to fruit tartlets that look as if they’ll have you cavorting with Ceres.
Their almond tart looks like a sweet snack for one but is so rich and soft it demands to be shared. Likewise their pear tart. The pâtissier has perfected their art. The pastry has the irresistible combination of crumbly and soft, with the lightly roasted almond flakes contained in both the almond and pear tarts begging to be crunched and rolled around the palate. Best of all, nothing we tasted was too sweet, despite the café’s name. Tart is as tart should be: a sublime mix of sweet and sour, with both being present in just the right amounts, the almond having a subtle bitterness complimenting the melt-in-your mouth pastry and accompanying cappuccino.
Even their cakes do not suffer from the common over-sweetness too often found in lesser establishments. We stayed away from the chocolate cake, it giving us the gastronomic equivalent of vertigo – you want to fall in but you know you’re probably going to die. Instead we opted for a slice of the chocolate orange cake (a huge slice that we took home and enjoyed over two days). The rich dark chocolate has us flying high, but the soft zest of the orange was a net to catch and bounce us.
The best part is the cycling hordes do not seem to have discovered The Sweetest Thing yet, which means a Saturday or Sunday morning treat is not disturbed by the sweaty clattering of the lycra-clad getting their fix. They remain focused on Kalk Bay’s offerings, and hopefully Simon’s Town remains too far a stretch, even though it well worth the effort, whether by bike, train, or car.
We haven’t tried their breakfast or lunch dishes yet, or their savoury quiches, but judging from the plates delivered to other salivating customers, the kitchen pays as much attention to their heartier offerings as they do their patisserie.
Find The Sweetest Thing at 82 St. George’s Street, Simon’s Town. Mother City News paid their own bill.