loaves.jpg Cape Town’s restaurant-clogged centre is still luring new converts. Loaves on Long opened their artisan bakery café recently in a double-volume building linked by charmingly uneven stairs. It’s diagonally opposite The Grand Daddy hotel and surprisingly easy to miss, yet is attracting regulars.

Chefs Ciska Rossouw and Lyndal Wakeford operate their joint business on passion and a shoestring budget. The upstairs level has basic pine tables and white banquettes, but in good weather balcony seats provide a bustling city snapshot.

Downstairs the counter is only replenished with fresh bakes once the rest have sold. That meant only gluten-free brownies – more chocolate-coconut cake than brownie-chewiness – were available for dessert when I went for lunch.

Roussouw made her name at The Bakery at Jordan, producing baked goods and country meals from quality ingredients. The Loaves on Long philosophy is similar, but there’s more food to go.

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Foraged Newlands mushroom soup with a crunchy goat's cheese surprise

Eggs and meat are free-range; some cured into bresaola or salami for gourmet sandwiches (pork belly with apple is good). Roussouw is often visible kneading her signature rye that encloses a whole pear, or shaping croissants (they’re puffily crisp).

loaves3.jpg Wakeford primarily runs the café with its tiny rotating menu. We didn’t fancy roasted vegetables with grilled halloumi, or the popular burger on a homemade bun.

So tomato-based fish curry with prawns, hake and potato tasted homely, but its bread-dough ‘vetkoek’ seemed heavy. Homemade tagliatelle wasn’t rolled thin enough to lift the partnering cream sauce, duck and wilted spinach. Thanks to a staff shortage, lunch was also slow.

But an inspired mushroom soup eased all those shortcomings. Pine rings and Boletus foraged in Newlands, merged creamy-earthy goodness and sautéed slices. With goat’s cheese croquettes, perfection.

Loaves on Long’s winter dishes are flavourful but hearty; starchy vegetables or bread items feature often. Next time I’ll know to order only one course.

What to eat If available on the small menu, don’t miss the foraged mushroom soup with goat’s cheese croquettes.

When to go early morning for pastries and muffins, or breakfast on the run. At midday for a weekday lunch.

Who to take Catch up with a friend, or have a casual lunch meeting with a colleague.

loavescounter.jpg What not to do expect tons of staff input. A split-level space and limited floor staff means an element of self-service may apply when you eat in.

What to drink They’re waiting for a liquor licence, so soft drinks, coffee or leaf teas are the current options.

Whatever you do don’t forget to take home fresh loaves made from stoneground flour. The ciabatta is still good the next day.

How much? Croissants and mini cakes R18 to R25; gourmet sandwiches R45; breakfast dishes R45 to R55; lunch dishes R65 to R85.

The verdict A modest bakery and café offering hearty fare.

LOAVES ON LONG, 33 Long Street, Cape Town. 021-422-3353. Open weekdays 6.30am to 6pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm.