Growing up with films such as James Bond, Pretty Woman, Ocean’s Eleven and Pink Panther where hotels signified luxury of the highest grade, only in reality to be terribly disappointed with a series of cheap, franchised hotels serving pizzas yearning for cheese and dry pastas, I didn’t hold too much hope when visiting Dash Restaurant and Bar at the Queen Victoria Hotel. That is of course, until I stepped inside it.
Located at the higher tier of the V&A Waterfront, Dash looks out on panoramic views of Table Mountain and the Waterfront. Being a local Capetonian it is often strange how used to the mountain I’ve become, until I was sitting on a terrace with elderflower and pomegranate martinis watching the sun dip towards Camps Bay. From here on out I realised that everything I thought I knew about hotel dining was about to change.
In the dining area an opulent atmosphere is achieved with very little. Tables are near-bare but for sparkling wine glasses and crisp white napkins. Walls are a plain dark grey decorated with large oil paintings covered in bold, warm brushstrokes. The music either comes from the grand pianist at the restaurant entrance or muted sounds from the audio system. The general feeling Dash exonerates is that everything is very well thought out, to the smallest elements.
We started our dining experience with ciabatta and sourdough slices covered in a choice of homemade basil or sundried tomato butter. They say trick about dining in general is to never fill up on bread. The problem; however, is whoever said that never tried a piece of warm sourdough drenched in basil butter. I am a simple person, I eat bread and butter and I am happy.
But be warned, each dish that appears from the kitchen somehow manages to top the previous one. The appetiser is a creamy parsnip soup with an olive crisp, bacon jam, truffle-nut crumb and a milk foam that is paired with a zesty chenin blanc. Now I’m not quite religious, but that dish is good enough to make me believe there has to be a deity looking over all of us. The soup is wonderfully understated by allowing the truffle nut crumb, bacon jam and olive crisp to shine in as bursts of flavour. This is a dish where each element has an immense respect for one another, resulting in something that is truly harmonious.
Then it’s the entree’s turn of kingklip carpaccio, salmon tartar, prawn and quail scotched egg, served with corn and beet purée, avocado mousse, oyster sauce and pickled vegetables served with a fruity pinot noir chardonnay. Just from the name itself it is quite obvious this is where the big kids come out to play. Although each element in the dish carries quite a bold flavour, there is a strange delicacy to it. Some people may find the generous drops of oyster sauce too bold, I on the other hand love bold. The salmon tartar is paired with with finely cut onions and held together with creme fraiche, keeping it light and crisp. The prawn and quail scotch egg is decadence itself and the kingklip magically works with each element on the plate. The smooth and fruity pinot noir chardonnay ties the dish together, balancing the bold flavours with a softness.
When the main of seared duck breast, confit baby chicken croquette, oyster mushrooms and rainbow carrots served with cranberry jus and carrot purée swings past, the habit of complete amazement in each dish continues. Now we all know duck is rich as it is, a meat generally kept for special occasions such as Christmas, and when paired with a cranberry jus and heavy pinotage the dish can quite easily become quite overwhelming. But it doesn’t. The smooth carrot purée, crunchy rainbow carrots and watercress leaves adds the freshness to the dish, preventing it to step over the line.
With a dessert of chocolate fondant, chocolate mousse drops, raspberry jam and fresh raspberries it’s very difficult to go wrong. I would, however recommend to skip the suggestion of pairing the dish with pink port and rather go straight for a cup of coffee as it does become quite sweet. Having said that, the fondant is immaculately gooey and the mousse drops are something from a fantasy novel.
Dash Restaurant and Bar under the care of executive chef, Chef Germaine Essau is an experience that blew my tastebuds away. To add to that note, the exemplary service adds as much to the evening as the food does through readily available and knowledgable hosting staff.
Although the experience comes with a bit of a price tag (the tasting menu described as above coins in at R375 excluding wine pairings) it is an experience very much worth having. I walked into Dash with a few apprehensions, I left a complete convert.
Price range: R145 per average main meal
Cuisine: Modern fine dining
Go ahead experience Dash for yourself, see more of the amazing menu. Dash Restaurant and Bar is located in the Queen Victoria Hotel (part of Newmark Hotels) at Portswood Ridge, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa.