It’s a street that’s easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Weirdly enough too because it’s one of the oldest streets in the city, sitting quietly below Mbabane’s newest architectural marvel, the Fincorp building. This old and easily overlooked street is lined with print shops, mini offices, a pawn shop, a few bookstores and even the Solanis executive lounge that’s a favourite for corporate heads and glitzy women. There’s a number of restaurants too that serve traditionally basic meals that range from your hearty beef stew to a Capetonian fish and slap chips.. This street is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for, unless you’re an artist with an insane love for unconventional coffee shops that serve rooibos lattes while jazzy music plays from an old school early millennium stereo.
One buzz at the door and the friendly receptionist is beaming with a wide smile, ready to welcome you in. The gallery is but a small piece of heaven in a concrete jungle. Newly curated but un-hung paintings sit against walls and in one of the rooms, there stands a display cabinet with all sort of type writers and antique trinkets. A meeting place of old and new. Aristocratic and functional. Walk right out to the back and you’ll soon discover a quaint little restaurant with an indoor section as well as an outdoor one, that’s lined with so much greenery and flowers that it’s hard to believe that you’re still in the city. Little steel round tables rest on a cobbled floor and a barista is likely to swoop on over to drop off a menu with a smile. There’s someone snipping daisies and arranging them in a jar. The wind chimes will tingle now and then, blending with the soft tunes that occasionally rise up from inside, floating past the old mahogany piano, over the decorative old bicycle that hangs a sign written Bahle gallery and out into the muffled atmosphere of car engines and rowdy horns.
The menu is a select variety of light meals, easy breakfasts and decadent delights. I’ve had their signature brownies recommended on days where my sweet tooth was louder than my weight watch reasoning and for the moments where I have craved a foodgasm meal, their spicy livers with toast or their yummy wings roasted in herbs, with a side salad and finished with thinly sliced chips have done the trick. Their freshly squeezed juices and iced teas are perfect for the warm summer days spent on the patio & if you’re lucky, you might even catch a shop n sip, a popular event in Tini’s urban fashion scene whereby fashionistas fuse food and shopping into one fun event. The coffee shop has also hosted a few poetry sittings too, book readings and music shows in the past and is always the perfect spot to recline and read a publication or two.
Dzeliwe Street is where you’ll find it, a stone throw away from the historic theatre club that’s a tall giant in Mbabane’s walk down memory lane. Park on the curb and let your wanderlust lead you to the most chic foodie spot that the city has seen thus far. Shop a painting or spend time viewing the works of local artists. There are new pieces from talented Mandi whose artworks adorn Mountain Inn and Emafini’s walls respectively. Her style is easy to spot. Flip through journals or sketch away. Unwind, hide-out or relax. Whatever it is that you’re seeking, you’re bound to find it here. But first, you have to find the street. I trust that after reading this you will because you already know what you’re looking for. Hopefully I’ll be bumping coffee mugs and tea cups with you one day.
Signed, the mystery blogger.