It’s the age-old story of the lingerie-business-turned-bakery, of which all good Covid-19 fairy tales are made. When the pandemic hit and the Parolis family moved their retail business online, it meant they had an used portion of their warehouse now standing empty.
Armed with grandmother Eli’s recipes, passed down from generation to generation — penned in Grenglish (a combination of Greek and English) — they set about testing recipes, renovating the space and conceptualising what would become YiaYia’s Table. The name is an ode to the YiaYia (Greek for grandmother) herself who, during her 96 years, baked for, fed and nurtured three generations of the family.
Operating out of the unassuming building in the Cape Town suburb of Mowbray where YiaYia Eli spent most of her life, the little bakery and coffee shop brims with love, comfort and the aromas of freshly baked Greek pastries for which they are quickly becoming renowned.
These include their speciality, Koulouria — a ring-shaped bread enjoyed either savoury or sweet. The iteration stuffed with feta, cream cheese and sun-dried tomatoes is absolutely moreish, and the traditionally simple bite is elevated with the salty, creamy and tangy additions.
Then there are the pies: here, the traditional phyllo pastry snacks are rolled into either cigar or spiral form. Whether you go for the famed spanakopita, with its spinach and feta filling; the tiropita of feta, ricotta and gruyere; the chicken and mushroom kotopita, or — as I recommend — a selection of all three, you’re in for an utter treat. The golden, flaky pastry gives a satisfying crunch before yielding to the warm, generous fillings within.
If you’re popping in for a meal, add a salad to your order — either a classic Greek (you’ll notice there’s no lettuce) or the rocket and goats cheese, both beautifully dressed and adding a complementary freshness to the indulgent pastries.
To satiate your sweet tooth, opt for the bougatsa — phyllo once again, here filled with a sweet custard. Or if you’re in the mood for absolute decadence, dare to try the sweet spectacular, which is their ekmek kataifi — a crispy, sticky kataifi base, soaked in syrup with the addition of almonds and walnuts, topped with crema patisserie and finished with whipped cream. It alone is worth a visit to the bakery.
In addition to dining in, all YiaYia’s Table pies and baked good are available to take home, either freshly baked or frozen. It is the perfect place to pick up a pie or two and maybe a sweet treat for lunch on the go, to keep in the freezer for when the craving strikes. You could even order platters should you be hosting a table at home.
YiaYia’s Table is the definition of a hidden gem — tucked away, out-of-sight, yet delivering mouthfuls of Greek goodness — just as good as YiaYia used to make.
YiaYia’s Table is situated at 41 Durban Road, Mowbray, Cape Town