On a beautifully warm start of Spring Sunday, I decided to take my sisters out to check out the Clay Cafe in Hout Bay. We had been trying to find a lunch spot that was both reasonable and would appeal to all of us, who are all of varying ages. I had tried to book for the weekend before, but booking tool online said they were fully booked. While apparently walk-ins are allowed, I called and was told that there was no space the entire weekend. I promptly booked for the next available date, and so eventually we were off.
The concept of the Clay Cafe is that you can choose from already made pottery pieces to paint and create completely unique pieces, while enjoying breakfast or lunch. Each painter is charged a R35 service fee, and you are allowed 2 paintbrushes and 3 paints with which to complete your masterpiece. In addition to the service fee, you then just pay for the pottery piece you wish to paint, which can range from R20 to R200. I chose a pot for my orchid (which, to my surprise has survived this long), Emily chose a bowl, while Hannah decided on a Stormtooper.
The cafe was very full as we arrived, and despite being early for our reservation, we were seated fairly quickly. And then promptly left to our own devices. Luckily, Pia had already visited and knew the process and explained it to us, because not once did anyone explain how the cafe worked, and how to begin painting. In fact, only after Pia got up and physically flagged a waiter did someone take our order. A little later, while selecting our painting tools, I asked an employee a question only to be ignored outright. Nothing makes for a fun experience quite like an establishment making you feel like you’re bothering them, and that they’re doing you a favour just by allowing you in.
Nevertheless, despite the above the food was quite good – I had the pizza (pictured) and it was delicious, with the freshest ingredients, and we also had a lot of fun painting our items – it’s a great way to stoke creativity and spend an afternoon and have a product afterwards that we could say we actually made (although we couldn’t take our items home that day – they need to be left at the Clay Cafe after being painted so that they can be fired and glazed, and can be collected after 3 weeks).
All-in-all, Clay Cafe is a really fun and innovative way to spend a day, especially if you have children – they have an impressive kids play area in the garden – but is also great for groups of people of all ages. If you’re willing to overlook bad service, I’d suggest you make a booking to try it out at least once. Unfortunately one of my pet peeves is poor service (they had also recently increased their prices, but had not adjusted their menus to reflect this, and seemed annoyed at my marked-up version of the bill reflected the advertised amounts) so I doubt I’ll be rushing back anytime soon.