Café Society

Bellevue Cafe in Kloof, Durban
James Siddall

So, if reports are to be believed, attention spans are diminishing like polar icecaps – largely on the back of sound-bitey social media. That’s why I’m writing an inverted piece here, getting straight to the conclusion with the meat to follow.

The Renault Kwid outside Bellevue Café in Kloof, Durban

Bellevue Café in Kloof, KZN carries my own “highly recommended” label, something I don’t offer too often in decades of reviewing everything from cars to restaurants to destinations. And the Renault Kwid? It’s a wonderful little entry-level runabout.

Now when I went on the launch  of this “SUV-inspired hatchback” almost three years ago I didn’t say nice things about it, finding the Kwid rather flimsy. Yet the model I’ve just had for a week feels altogether tighter, tauter, and rather top as a town tot – despite that the only theoretical change is that it now has ABS plus a couple of other things.

Bellevue Cafe in Kloof, Durban

So yes, both Bellevue Café and the little Renault get close to five stars. I’ll explain. Bellevue is set in the leafty suburb of Kloof, KZN. Over the years I’ve eaten a score or more times at this airy, upmarket eatery – and every single excursion here has been, well, terrific. The food is consistently top-notch with much being made of fresh, locally sourced produce, and you can order off the daily specials board, which never disappoints.

Or, for instance, for breakfast check out the menu and perhaps try Eggs Onassis with smoked salmon, and the Crispy Salt & Pepper Calamari Salad for lunch. Come dinner, don’t pass on the Linguine Marinara.

The key to Bellevue’s popularity with everyone from local business people who dine here up to three times a day or parents and kids from the local private school, is its sylvan setting. Of course.

Bellevue Cafe

It’s also staff who’re almost prescient in attending to your needs, its elegant double-volume interior, and shady courtyard – but most of all it’s the touch of its owner, Guy Cluver.

Now Guy is a heavyweight hospitality maven, being the co-founder and Managing Executive of Lupa – part of the JSE-listed Famous Brands – but he tends to base himself at Bellevue.

“It’s really all about consistently doing the small things well,” he says of Bellevue, but that also goes for Lupa as a whole with its national network of restaurants.

Speaking of doing small things well, the Kwid’s modest dimensions make it a downright delight when darting around the urban environment. Its frugal one-litre, three-cylinder motor is more than enough for the cut-and-thrust of traffic or even freeway forays if need be. It’s well-equipped too – especially for a budget car.

Driver’s airbag, front electric windows, remote central locking and ABS are now standard on all four derivatives. More than that, the Dynamique model I spent time with comes with  a seven-inch touchscreen including satellite navigation and Bluetooth, as well as the integration of smartphone mirroring with Apple Car Play® and Android Auto compatibility.

No wonder Renault has sold more than 20 000 of these babies since the local launch.

And with its gay (in the old-fashioned sense of the word!) Gallic nature, driving it tends to be an uplifting, entertaining experience – rather like visiting Bellevue Café.

Yours for just R147 900 for the Dynamique model I tested – and that includes one year’s insurance, a two-year service plan and a five-year warranty.

Pretty remarkable for the price.