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ESP Cafe, CTICC, Cape Town: Cafe Review

ESP Cafe
Cape Town Convention Centre
Foreshore, Cape Town
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Specialty: Light meals
Contact: Tel: +27 (0) 21 421 6124, Fax: +27 (0) 21 421 6123
SA Blog recommends a look inside? Only as a last resort.

Further Insight & Opinion
If your future should chance to dictate a day at the CTICC, take SA Logue’s advice and arrange lunchtime transport to, say, the nearby V&A Waterfront – or, indeed, any place in town other than the Convention Centre itself.

I’ve had occasion to sample food at nearly all the centre’s dispensaries of it, and can quite readily confirm that culinary standards in the otherwise well-managed space are simply dire.

A case in point is the in-house cafe for light meals, ESP. Contrary to what one might presume from the cafe’s name, the staff at ESP are not psychic. This is forgiveable; what isn’t is that they are also (a) not interested in their customers, (b) not possessed of any knowledge about their menu or kitchen, (c) not given to inspecting plates of food before they serve them, and (d) clearly not happy with their employment situations in the least.

On a recent visit there (made necessary because of time constraints), a companion and I picked over our third-choice orders – after a server had trudged glumly to and fro our table with the news that choices one and two were not available – with grim distaste. This was at 2 p.m. – we’d placed our orders at about 1h30, right at the time when one would expect a cafe to be on its best – and best-provisioned – behavior. But a more lethargical bunch, outside the walls of, say, an asylum, you’re unlikely to meet at lunchtime.

The food was not only third-choice, it was third-rate. My roast beef ciabatta was swimming in salad oil, the soaked bread merrily decomposing as I picked the sandwich up. My companion’s toasted egg-and-cheese-on-rye triangles were cold as the CTICC’s marble cladding, and tasted, I quote “like cardboard”.

I doubt if my companion has ever actually tasted cardboard, but I don’t doubt that she was close to the mark in her description. In my experience, unmotivated restaurant staff are the victims of uncaring, low-paying management, and I would suggest that the CTICC’s bosses review ESP’s concession – the joint is quite frankly a blight within the centre’s elegant confines.