I have a very real fear of meeting new people. It sometimes borders on a mild case of anthropophobia. Sitting down and dining with strangers sounds pretty nightmarish to me. But, as the wise old universe would have it, I was gifted an exclusive opportunity to attend DINE4SIX‘s 100th event celebration at the Cape Grace Hotel. Being the biggest fan of the DINE4SIX concept, but having lacked the guts to book a seat myself before, I swallowed my reservations, straightened my crown and put on my dress. Spoiler alert – I emerged a changed person.
What is Dine4Six?
For those of you who don’t know, DINE4SIX is a social dining app that brings food-loving people across Cape Town together over fine food. You simply pop onto their website, browse the available seats and book a seat. DINE4SIX brings you delicous fine dining options from the city’s favourite restaurants at negotiated rates, whilst setting you up with five other strangers, who will be your dining companions for the evening.
Now. Wait a minute. Six strangers at a table, you say? Why, yes! You don’t know who you’ll be sharing a meal with until you arrive. What you do know, though, is that they will be just as enthusiastic as you about good food, good wine, and great conversation. And what better starting point is there than a mutual passion for the culinary arts?
If this isn’t enough (I have plenty more!) – you pay for your seat when you book online, which leaves you hands-free to enjoy the night to it’s fullest, without having to worry about settling the bill and fumbling for your wallet. Plus, you also get to meet the chef and taste one-of-a-kind menus and dishes.
We all get stuck in a rut, because it’s comfortable. Even though I was apprehensive at the prospect, I forced myself to step outside of my comfort zone for the sake of The Little Hedonist, and I’ve never looked back. DINE4SIX introduced me to a whole different way of dining (stress-free, I must add), which is actually quite addictive and totally enjoyable!
How this all happened
In August, DINE4SIX hosted a photo competition in the run-up to their 100th event celebration. After hosting 99 delicious dinners in six cities across the world, what better way to celebrate than by hosting a free experience for some of their loyal diners?
I was lucky enough to win the second of five seats with my entries, the sixth seat allocated to founder and absolute gentleman, Amit Ramdath. This prestigious celebration was hosted at the Signal Restaurant at the Cape Grace Hotel. We were placed in the uber-confident and capable hands of Executive Chef, Malika van Reenen. She was the perfect host and such a humble person; her passion is written in her easy smile and her commitment to quality and innovation spoke in every dish she proudly presented to us.
The stormy winter weather on the evening of 25 August didn’t drown the jovial spirit and laughs I arrived to at Signal Restaurant. Taking a deep breath, I walked into what I now nostalgically remember to be one of the best nights of my life.
After a round of introductions, I was pleasantly curious about my dining companions for the night; there was the super-talented food stylist, Clinton, an incredibly awesome and creative human being called Lizelle, uber-stylish and all-round Good Samaritan, Clint and the beautifully interesting and radiant Roxanne. It was clear from the beginning that we were going to make a great team, bound by our insatiable appetite for pretty food.
The night was opened with a flair of sabrage, perfectly executed by our very knowledgeable sommelier for the evening. You can ask this man anything about wine. He’s like a walking wine encyclopedia! We were seated around a small, intimate round table, which made interacting a lot less awkward than a traditional long table.
After a breadboard of epic proportions, served with various flavoured butters we were ready to fill our glasses for the wine pairings and tuck into the exquisitely Malay-inspired menu Chef Malika prepared for us. Let the festivities begin.
We kicked off the evening with salmon, citrus and avocado mousse, paired with a gorgeous Riesling. The delicate flavours of the salmon was perfectly enticed by subtle hints of citrus, fresh herbs and creamy avocado mousse, calling for an absolute taste sensation. The wine contained gentle notes of citrus peel and fragrant stone-fruit. It was a beautiful dish to whet the appetite, and the perfect conversation starter.
Mains consisted of a variety of three superb dishes: first up was confit pork belly, saffron scented parsnip puree & passion fruit, paired with a juicy white blend. If you know me, you’ll know that pork belly is one of my naughtiest indulgences and this dish got full-marks from me. Filled to the brim with bursting flavours of warm spice and just the right amount of texture, this was a showstopper. We laughed at how quickly the phones and cameras appeared whenever a new dish arrived at the table – each dish was beautifully presented.
By this time, we have all relaxed and opened up to receive each other’s stories and tales. The atmosphere was relaxed, fun and very companionable. Amit kept us glued to our chairs with his recollections of his life, passions and ventures. I found it an incredibly humbling experience to dine with the founder of this dining initiative – Amit took the time from his busy life to join us for the full experience, and engaged in the process as much as we did.
Next up was probably my favourite dish of the evening: Cape Malay curry, risotto, scallop, prawn, cucumber & yoghurt, paired with an Eagle’s Nest Viognier 2016. Chef Malika happily swapped the shellfish for salmon in my dish because of my seafood allergies, which I found incredibly accommodating.
I’ve always advocated that one eats with your eyes before the food even touches your fork. The crockery used were simple in appearance, but each bowl and plate were carefully curated to enhance the natural beauty of the dishes. It added to the appeal without stealing the show.
After a palate cleanser of green apple foam, lemon & fennel jelly (!) it was time for another exquisite take on Cape Malay cuisine: bobotie spiced ostrich, quinoa, pickled raisins & almond granola. Chef Malika and the sommelier improvised and paired this dish with no less than three different red wines, so that we could experience different flavour profiles. Beautifully warming and fragrant.
Nothing could’ve prepared us for the dessert. Milktart Mille Feuille with naartjie ice cream, served with a gorgeous noble late harvest dessert wine.
It was sweet and crunchy and surprising all at once. It was moreish and beautiful and so incredibly innovative in it’s homage to our heritage and local produce. Just the perfect dish to round up such an exciting night.
Being the borderline anti-social person I am – I never felt uncomfortable or awkward, not for a single minute. I would do this a hundred times over again. In fact, I’m just waiting for my schedule to clear so that I can book my next DINE4SIX experience!
And I’m not using the word “experience” willy-nilly. It’s exactly what DINE4SIX offers you, above and beyond a safe space in which to have beautiful food with like-minded individuals – an experience. An evening filled with stimulating conversation, networking opportunities and exclusive peeks into our buzzing food industry in the mother city. Plus, you walk away with new friends at the end of the evening. What’s not to like?
Thank you DINE4SIX for pulling me out of my shell and showing me a whole different way of dining. I will be an ambassador for your dining experiences forever more. I will raise the knife and fork in rebellion against awkward silences and uncomfortable small talk, and advocate for this modern, fresh and relaxed way to dine. I came, I saw, I conquered. Meet. Mingle. Eat.
The Little Hedonist has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, I do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, menu changes, opening times, and contact details.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.