Dash Restaurant and Bar Review

Sunshine, G&Ts, and a fresh new menu.

In a Nutshell:

Dash Restaurant and Bar Review

FOOD: Garden to Table

Each dish was packed with flavour and only the freshest ingredients. I loved seeing the exact radishes we picked from the veggie garden on my plate. The ingredients are locally sourced, even the Beach Lettuce that grows in Granger Bay: a salty, crunchy little ocean plant that’s my new favourite thing ever. It was part of my favourite dish of the day, perfectly seared Blackened Tuna with  a spicy tom yum soup and fragrant fennel foam. I love a chef who isn’t afraid of flavour – mediocre “make the masses happy” dishes just make me sad. Salt, acid, heat, sweetness – it was there in each and every plate.

AMBIANCE & SERVICE: Picture Perfect

Dash is a pretty little restaurant that’s regularly updated with new art. There’s a gorgeous garden where we sat, sipping on our G&Ts, soaking up the spring sun, and watching the Big Wheel spin. Make sure to ask for a tour of their new veggie and herb garden. If only I had an outdoor space bigger than my 4x2ish balcony. A gal can dream. For a pretty posh spot, the staff are all really funny and they’ve nailed the perfect balance of being there without being there.

PRICE: Treat Yourself.

Full disclosure: this was a “more the merrier” meal because we were invited and were served a mix of resized dishes from the lunch and dinner menus. Starters average around R150 and mains at around R240. There’s also a very tempting 9 course tasting menu for R945. It’s not hella expensive, but it’s not one of those “let’s go get a quick bite on an arbitrary Tuesday“. Well, at least it’s not for me.

K cool, now the long version.

Dash Restaurant and Bar at the Queen Victoria Hotel by the V&A Waterfront is one of those places that makes me feel guilty about lumping all hotel restaurants into the “hotel restaurants are average” bucket. Thanks to Chef Chris Erasmus, of award-winning Foliage Restaurant, and Chef Ashraf Arendse, their farm-to-fork menu celebrates food that isn’t just above average, it hits it out of the ballpark hotel, past the Big Wheel, over the V&A and that weird old maze on the prom, and faaaar into the distance. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic date night, a business lunch, a birthday, or end of year celebration.

Let’s talk food.

Salt and Pepper Squid

A few years ago S&P Squid started popping up on Cape Town restaurant menus and it never went away. It’s always the same – crunchy squid with a splat of mayo, or if you’re lucky, aioli. Dash has one too, but YOHHHH, there’s no mayo in sight. Light, tender and crispy pieces of squid on spicy coconut curry sauce, served with a sweet pickled cucumber, a whack of fresh lime, and my favourite part – the subtle nuttiness you get from those ‘lil sesame seeds, which brings the whole thang together. #RIPmayo, you will not be missed.

“Crumbed Mushrooms”

Do not fear, the 70s are not calling. No soggy button mushrooms were demanding retribution on this plate. The menu just says “mushrooms, truffle, pecorino” – three things that have never upset me. The plate says way, way more. If you don’t like mushrooms, scroll down. If you do, tuck into a mushroom and truffle croquette served with a mix of sautéed wild mushrooms and topped with mountain of cheese, which is concealing many secrets 😉

Blackened Tuna

This is it, my favourite dish of the day. Possibly year. I could’ve eaten 19 portions of this and still wanted more. Perfectly seared blackened tuna with tom yum soup, fennel foam, roasted tomatoes, and Beach Lettuce or Sout Slaai. The tom yum was made with galangal, chilli, lime, coconut and seaweed – a deep, rich and spicy soup that was brightened by the lightness of the fennel foam and the sweetness of the tomatoes. See that radish in the pic? I picked that right from the garden! This was the first time I’ve eaten Sout Slaai or Beach Lettuce – a pretty little beach-side plant that looks like it’s covered in dew. It’s crunchy, it’s salty, and it reminded me on biltong in the strangest way. Not in taste or texture or anything, it’s a savoury snack that I could imagine munching on all day. I might be losing my mind. ANYWAY. If you’re going to have one dish – make it this one. (Edit: rereading this now before pressing the “post” button and I’m craving this even more. #crying)

Panfried Hake

My one year pescatarian anniversary just passed (yay, go me!) and I’ve come to realise that restaurant fish options often leave me feeling like I need to eat again when I get home. Just because I eat fish, doesn’t mean I want a “lighter option”. BORING. For this reason alone, nevermind the fact that it was delicious too, I loved the panfried hake, on a bed of curried lentils, with coriander pesto, a lovely acidic fresh salsa, and a cauliflower espuma (which I had to google, and it’s essentially another name for a foam.) The hake itself was super simple, with lovely golden caramelised edges, and contrasted beautifully with the spicy, tomato’y curry, the earthy cauliflower, and the sharp pesto.

Lamb Flatbread

So I didn’t taste this in it’s entirety (see post above) but I tore off a piece of the fluffy flatbread, I stuck my finger into the amazing yogurt-tehini dressing, I picked out a piece or two of the sweet red cabbage and raisin slaw, and I attacked the one bit of home-made, smokey dukkah. Marvin tells me that the lamb was incredibly tender and moist. This picture doesn’t do the size of this dish justice, it was hefty and Marvin fought his way through it with dignity and grace.

Choc Souffle & Yogurt Panna Cotta 

If this is the first time reading one of my reviews, you won’t know that I don’t have a sweet tooth. So while neither of these desserts did it for me, it wasn’t because they weren’t perfectly put together, I just felt like another Blackened Tuna.

The panna cotta was made with plain yogurt, so it wasn’t sweet, but the popping candy, almond microwave sponge cake, yogurt granola, and passion fruit curd that it was served with, definitely was. I loved the different textures and no matter how old I get, popping candy is always a fun time.

This oooozy chocolate souffle with yuzu ice-cream certainly takes the ol’ choc fondant with vanilla ice-cream up a notch or 5. I liked the bitterness of the dark chocolate, but yuzu has a citrussy twang to it and I don’t love a choc-citrus combo. Again, a personal preference as opposed to a technical issue. Marvin on the other hand, well, he finished the whole thing.

From the really attentive, light-hearted staff, to the flavour that was packed into each element of very dish, and the freshness of the ingredients that I saw exactly where they were plucked from, and maybe a little too much gin – this was a really fun day out.

There’s a youthfulness and modernity to this menu, which I love. Traditional ingredients combined in untraditional ways, with a huge focus on flavour. I don’t say “flavour” in the generic sense – because obviously food without flavour is nothing – but there has been painstaking attention to detail to ensure that each plate is complex without being overwhelming. It’s all in that squeeze of lime, that sprinkle of sesame, that home-made dukkah, and that ground galangal.

After one last almond milk flat white, I had only one question – can I have some more tuna?

Directions to Dash
Queen Victoria Hotel
Moorings 5 & Portswood Ridge
5 Portswood Road
Cape Town
021 418 1466

Here’s what’s on the December list for Dine4Six

Christmas Banquet Feast at Dash Restaurant