REVIEW: Culture Club Cheese: yellow and rather mellow

Kale Caesar salad with chicken and yoghurt dressing
New Culture Club Cheese is hard to miss with its bright yellow paint splashed over a characterful building, and yellow hairpin legs under repurposed wood tables on a Bree Street pavement. Inside, a faux wheel of Parmigiano forms an eye-catching light, but the star attraction is a fridge filled with local artisanal boerenkaas and buffalo mozzarella, to French Morbier, Comté and Camembert de Normandie.

Nottinghamshire-trained cheesemaker Luke Williams worked briefly for Fairview, but you won’t find his own cheese on sale yet. Trading in partnership with wife Jessica, he’s focused on fermenting gut-healthy products (sauerkraut to ginger and carrot gut shots, and kefir drinks mixed with berries) for now.

One week in, various cheese sandwiches formed about a third of the single-page breakfast and lunch menu. There was a tendency towards unpasteurised cheese and natural, free-range charcuterie, poultry or meat.

cheese_building.jpg Quality and flavours are good at Culture Club Cheese, but portions are on the small side. A sourdough toastie made a good shared snack, sandwiching melted Myst Hill cheddar with walnuts, caramelised onion and apple butter in a nuttily satisfying ending.

A delightful plate of lentils merged mellow curry spice with crunchy garlic and onion under a vibrant tomato sauce, but topping it with only one halved Toulouse-style Cederberg pork sausage seemed stingy.

Worth having is the excellent Caesar salad, where kale leaves replace the classic cos. Satisfyingly different with a perfectly poached egg, walnuts, optional chicken breast pieces and croutons, under Myst Hill yoghurt whipped into a creamy, anchovy-salted emulsion.

Myst Hill cheddar, walnut, caramelised onion and apple butter toastie
Waiters never offered our table any sweet treats, but the menu is sugar-free, with coconut sugar or stevia substitutes used in cheesecake or gluten-free biscuits. ‘We’re very organic in how we’re developing, and we’d rather take longer and do it right,’ said Williams afterwards. Still to come are cheese boards, Welsh rarebit and croque monsieur.

What to eat Cheese sandwiches or toasties on quality sourdough. A kale Caesar salad is unusual but good.

When to go Pavement tables create sunny breakfast or lunchtime spots to catch up with chatty friends.

Who to take cheese-lovers and others keen on flavourful savoury dishes and sugar-free indulgences.

What not to do Get impatient about service. They’re new. Friendly staff need time to settle in.

What to drink Juice, Deluxe coffee or tangy, gut-healthy milk-fermented kefir drinks blitzed with fruit. There’s no liquor licence yet.

Whatever you do don’t forget to buy cheese: a washed rind or pressed goat’s curd perhaps, with a homemade fruity membrillo paste.

How much? Toasties and sandwiches from R55; risotto and salads from R45 to R75; banting breakfast or sausage and lentil lunch at R70.

The verdict An incomplete but promising menu, and great cheese to go.

CULTURE CLUB CHEESE, 215 Bree Street, Cape Town. Open Tuesday to Friday 8am to 5pm; Saturday 9am to 4pm. 072-428-9572.

A version of this review appeared in The Times on 13 May 2015.