Recently I moved to the Helderberg district about 50km from Cape Town. In an attempt to familiarize myself with the area I decided to explore the local cuisine. I found the Pajama and Jam Eatery online and was simply blown away by their seductive food photography and had to find out if the food tasted as good as it looked.
As we entered the charcoal painted shed I immediately became aware of the cathedral-like volume. Having grown up on a farm, I started reliving many of my childhood memories of playing on the tractors and riding my bicycle up and down the massive structure.
The interior is a mixture of industrial-antique and farmhouse kitchen. Perhaps there’s a better way to describe it, but these connotations were so strong, I could not help but make visual references. While the architecture largely lends the space an industrial feeling with exposed steel beams, clear-story windows and dancing light on the floor through fans on the roof, the interior design and décor make it feel more human.
The eatery is carefully divided into smaller areas which helps you to orientate yourself and never feel lost. Standing in the entrance foyer, looking down, the autumn sun touches my legs through the big glass entrance shopfront as we wait to be seated. To my left, there’s a shelf with freshly baked croissants and home-made bread wrapped in black and white paper and tied up with string. While the waiter writes down our names and table numbers on a brown paper roll, the smell of fresh coffee fills the room from an open serving area. Here you can see the workings of the kitchen which adds to the experience and vibrancy.
Over the timber cladded counter, big industrial pendants hang from the exposed roof structure and define the area below it. Cake mixers, flour scales and egg whisks announce the preparation of pastries and cakes in the dining area and makes you feel as if you’re helping out in your mother’s kitchen.
But there are other details that are very prominent like the use of greenery to soften the masculine and robust elements. Pot plants are placed throughout the interior and become a binding element. Used as an organic-chandelier, a dry Eucalyptus arrangement suspended from the roof with chains ties the two sections of the shed together. Apart from pot plants on shelves, big green Delicious Monster leaves are arranged in a variety of glass containers and vases between vintage items.
This is the other element that adds to the eatery’s charm. As we move through the space to our table, my eyes pick up a dusty silk lampshade, piano, old travelling suitcases, and a wrought iron staircase going nowhere. Because the space is so big, it was necessary to define it better with furniture and décor. A lot of the vintage items are for sale, like the copper pots and wine cups, while others are purely decorative, like the old bodywork of a car defining an eating nook.
We sat down at a little white table and ordered a slice of cake. Made from almond flour and cacao, it had a smooth and creamy texture contrasted with crushed almonds mixed into the batter. I was still busy enjoying myself when I already saw another on the harvest table. Displayed on glass stands, chocolate cupcakes adorned with fresh figs and savoury scones with thyme and bacon attracted my attention.
Pajamas & Jam created a space where people can feel comfortable in one of the most industrial areas of Cape Town. Not only is the food incredibly rich in flavour, but the space has been created for conversation, good laughs and forgetting about time.