“Tonight we’re going to have food put on the plate by an interior decorator,” my dad quips to my mum and I last Sunday afternoon, “we better have dinner before we go out.” Nonsense, I tell him, I’ve looked at Dash’s winter menu and there’s ‘pan fried loin of venison, parsley mash and carrot puree’ as an option, that sounds filling enough.
I’ve been invited to visit Dash Restaurant at the Queen Victoria Hotel on the border of Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. I’m taking my mom, as August is her birthday month and she deserves a treat. My mum comes in a pair, so we’re taking my dad along. He also deserves a treat.
The sky is displaying a spectacular sunset that Cape Town offers as an apology for some rather dismal weather in winter. We park and have a short walk through the Waterfront to the Queen Victoria Hotel. I like it that Dash is set slightly away from the hustle of the Waterfront’s busy shops and restaurant scene – close enough to unwind peacefully after a shopping spree or a boat trip out on the water.
We enjoyed a drink in the comfortable bar area before our dinner. The restaurant’s décor is perfectly balanced, elegant without being pretentious. Our first taste of the food perfection which was to follow was beautiful hand cut crisps served with paprika cream cheese and plump olives. I noticed that my dad’s interest in the menu increased with the arrival of this welcoming touch.
On the way to the table I asked the exceptionally lovely Amy, the restaurant manager on duty, whether the name Dash had any significance. She told me that it was the name of Queen Victoria’s favourite pet, a cocker spaniel. I would have known that if I had looked at their website before my visit, but I wanted to experience the restaurant without being influenced by other reviews and not having any idea of what to expect – a culinary adventure.
Looking at the menu you wouldn’t expect the presentation of the food at Dash to be so very special. The Caesar Salad that my dad ordered for his starter is described as having ‘anchovy toast and quail eggs’. But as with everything else that we were served, this salad was a complete sensory experience – a combination of perfectly boiled and fried quails eggs, halved crisp baby cos lettuce sprinkled with flavour bursts of Caesar Salad elements, everything perfectly placed with precision on the plate.
Our waiter, whose name tag read Mr B (because, in his own admission, he had a difficult to pronounce name) was nothing short of excellent. “And what can I cook for you for your mains?” he smiles. His style is flawless, his interest and knowledge in the preparation and cooking of the restaurant’s dishes is obvious. This restaurant shows you the meaning of attention to detail.
After a beautifully executed Amuse Bouche of beetroot, goat’s cheese and springbok carpaccio, I had a sneaky taste of my parents’ starter choices. When faced with the choice of two courses on a menu, there is no chance that dessert won’t be one of my selections. My mum is still talking about the ‘Double Baked Gorgonzola Soufflé, Biltong Shavings and Hazelnuts’ and remembering the absolutely delicious combination of a blue cheese quenelle with the gorgonzola soufflé, offset by the tart sweetness of fresh raspberries.
We all had the pan fried loin of venison for our main course. On this day the venison was a tender, flavourful springbok loin. As I examined the exquisite plating of the dish, I truly believed that this was a chef who cared. Every bite of the impeccably put together elements was a trip to culinary heaven – especially the baby onions filled with velvety smooth potato mash. A designer, but more than ample, portion of deliciousness.
As the centre oozes out of my Chocolate Fondant, I tell Mr B that this is one of my first experiences of fine dining, and as a chef I am inspired. He replies to me that Dash Restaurant’s menu is considered more relaxed than fine dining.
No, Mr B, I do relaxed dining for my clients – abundant salads of fresh ingredients and simply cooked excellent quality meats, every day kind of family style meals – what Dash Restaurant offers is incredibly fine indeed. I have no doubt that when I am asked for a recommendation of where to eat out in Cape Town, I will be ringing Dash for a reservation for my clients.
To experience Dash, call them on +27 21 418 1466 or email email@example.com for a booking.