{eat} From dash to dawdle: slow down to fine dine at Dash Restaurant

Our usual mid-week Wednesday evening was transformed into a mini-breakaway for the soul with a romantic dinner for two at Dash Restaurant, snuggled away in the tranquil arms of the Queen Victoria Hotel.

Introduction

This time of the year we all run on empty. We try and pace ourselves and our energy until mid-December, when we all collapse in a heap from exhaustion, right on the doorstep of silly season.

I always try to create little pockets of peace during these rushed times, where I can take a few hours to sit down, breathe and feed my soul. It’s amazing what a little quietening down can do for your overall wellness. We found that perfect sanctuary escape at Dash Restaurant, where we did everything except just that.

Background

Executive Chef Chris Erasmus of the award-winning Foliage Restaurant and Dash Restaurant’s Executive Chef Ash Arendse have fused their culinary artistry and shared philosophy for indigenous and forage-inspired flavours to create a menu exclusively served to Dash Restaurant patrons.

The menu celebrates the genesis of the finest local and seasonal ingredients and has been designed to create a narrative around the evolution of food – with each dish being a transcendent testimony to its origin and to the chef’s collective culinary mastery.

Combining alpine glamour and impeccable hospitality, Dash offers gourmands the pinnacle of luxe with sustainable food influenced by the country’s cultural and natural heritage. The maturity and diversity of its ethically-sourced fare informs its local gastronomy with an unrivalled homegrown identity that drives the field-to-fork movement (https://newmarkhotels.com/places/restaurants/dash/).

The venue

With iconic and panoramic views of Table Mountain and the Waterfront, Dash Restaurant confidently sits within the splendorous Queen Victoria Hotel. The impressive lobby opens into a sweeping dining room with large glass windows and a gorgeous little patio, where we enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks.

As I took in the stunning surrounds and views, a pretty gin in hand, I could already feel the rush of the day starting to ease from my shoulders. My smile was a bit easier, my muscles a bit more languid and my mood elevated at the thought of a restful dinner with The Tall Hedonist. We took this al-fresco opportunity to shift our minds from “dash” to “dawdle” in anticipation of a great meal.

As the sun drew low in the sky, we headed inside for dinner. Classic, clean lines and contemporary artwork made up the dining room. I absolutely adored the dark décor, interspersed with bright pieces of furniture, embellished metal details and touches of grey, eggplant and marble. The dining room felt stately, but comfortable, and I couldn’t wait to see what the kitchens of Dash held for us.

An impressively large glass, mirror and dark wood bar took up the far wall, with a jaw dropping collection of spirits. Here, you could relax at the bar counter or spread out at one of the more informal tables, that has been cleverly divided from the dining room, without feeling isolated or removed from the diners.

The small tables were simply laid, with cutlery, a side plate, water glass and serviette, a super-modern table-top touch lamp and a cute pot of nasturtiums. The dining room simply oozed elegance and tranquility, and with every step towards our table, the world seemed a little bit further removed from this experience.

The menu

The only thing we were expected to decide on, was our wine for the evening. For the rest, Chef Ash would take care of our dinner, without needing any inputs from us. I gladly accepted the offer, as it meant I could simply sit back and take it all in.

Our wine choice for the evening was easy – a bottle of Muratie’s Laurens Campher white blend. A great food-loving wine, and one of our most favourite indulgences.

Starters

The bread course arrived soon, and as our waitress set down the plate, I couldn’t help but stifle a gleeful exclamation. You know what they say about first impressions? For me, that totally counts for food, too.

Our bread course was served with the most delicious pickled tuna, smoked baba ghanoush and charcoal butter.

Our starters were incredibly pretty, and I had a hard time convincing myself to exchange my camera for my knife and fork. We were served lightly dusted squid with a coconut curry sauce. It was beautifully presented, more-ishly tasty and filled with delicate flavours without any heaviness. The Tall Hedonist and I both cleared out plates and couldn’t quite get over the innovative interpretation of this popular Cape Townian staple.

I loved everything about this starter and happily sat back with my glass of wine. I could hear guests chatting and laughing in the bar lounge, and a few tables filled up around us. In that moment, wine in hand, I felt particularly content as I watched the tablecloth slowly being draped over our mountain.

Interlude

Our second course was similarly spectacular. Blackened tuna, served with sea spinach, fennel foam, tom yum jus, vine roasted tomatoes and crispy kale. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about the sea spinach, which I’ve seen growing on the sand dunes at the coast before. It always seemed like such an unobtrusive and unremarkable plant, but on the plate, it was dainty and juicy, adding a very interesting texture component to the dish. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of foraging. Although it’s a big movement in Europe, I think we are only but touching the sprouts of potential we have here in South Africa for forage-based dining. I was elated to see this initiative reflected in Dash’s menu.

Mains

For mains, we were presented with two different meals. I had the line fish of the day, with masala lentils, cauliflower puree, tomato salsa and dukkah. The Tall Hedonist tucked into a smoked steak sirloin, served with shallots, chimichurri, buttermilk onion rings, onion puree and red wine jus.

The fish and masala lentils were comforting and familiar, but different and surprising at the same time. I was so proud of the cosmopolitan menu that paid homage to our home with dainty Cape Malay twists.

The smoked steak sirloin was pure magic. Served hidden under a cloche of smoke, this dish is every bit as showstopping as it’s tasty. I pretty much had to food-barter with The Tall Hedonist to taste one of his buttermilk onion rings, and a tiny sliver of his steak. The herby chimichurri added a lovely freshness to the meat dish and elevated the onion puree to next levels. I didn’t hear a squeak from Tim for the next 20 minutes.

We sat back and ate at a leisurely pace, as the evening drew darker around the Waterfront. We could hear soft piano tunes from the foyer and the lights were slightly dimmed. We took this time to really catch up, check in with each other and slow down before the onslaught of the festive season. I felt so much more relaxed and my mind started to unwind, taking in the stillness of Dash, the tranquility of its surroundings and the sophisticated dishes that lined the pass. For all I cared, time could stand still in that moment, as we raised our glasses to another year of life’s glorious indulgences.

Dessert

We took a breather before dessert. If we thought the other dishes were showstoppers, can you imagine our surprise when they placed our desserts in front of us?

Panacotta with pomegranate seeds, popping candy and granola for The Tall Hedonist, and the most decadent baked chocolate soufflé with miso ice cream for me.

A final encore of homemade fudge and coconut ice. The sweetest ending to a brilliant night.

In conclusion

If you are looking for a mid-week slow-down, a quiet spot for a romantic dinner, an intimate dining experience or simply want to impress guests with views of our lovely city over sundowners, this stand-alone restaurant is the place to be seen this festive season.

Chefs Chris and Ash take the utmost care and pride in preparing and serving their creations. Gorgeous fine dining food, great people, fabulous service, an inspired and ever-changing menu and some serious all-round feel-good vibes, Dash will help you to wind down after a busy day in a serene setting.

Thank you, team Dash, for looking after us so exquisitely and for allowing us to sink into your luxurious surroundings for a few hours’ reprieve.

Second photographer: The Tall Hedonist, aka Timothy P. Gibson

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.

The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.

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