When I heard that Daniel Vieira was the new chef at Dish I got very excited. The Vieira boys all went to school at DHS in Durban with my two sons. Having spent many hours on the side of rugby fields with Mum and Dad Vieira I just knew that Daniels palate would be well developed.
It’s no surprise that many sons of Portuguese parentage seek out a life in the familiar world of a kitchen. Their formative years are a lavish smorgasbord of great flavours and countless traditional and beautifully prepared dishes. The kitchen is the beating heart at the centre of a Portuguese home.
Dish is the signature restaurant of the Royal Palm Hotel in Umhlanga on the North Coast of KZN. This spacious restaurants décor is nouveau elegant and restaurant manager Freddy Singh, who welcomed us, was an utter delight. His knowledge and passion for our great wines is reflected in their fantastic wine list. Dish won the Platinum Wine list of The Year Award for KwaZulu-Natal regionally.
My hubby doesn’t like alcohol so I am often highly restricted in my choice of wines available by the glass. Not at Dish – no sir – he could not have been more accommodating and I was given the opportunity to enjoy Danie DeWet’s sublime Limestone Chardonnay, Landskroons wonderful Merlot and Pierre Jordan Ratafia which is just celestial.
Chef Daniel came to our table and the conversation soon landed up where all foodie conversations land up -in the ingredients cupboard – he is passionate about sourcing food locally – a practice that I firmly support. We enjoyed a demitasse of wonderful chick pea and tomato soup which I could have eaten buckets of while we decided on tasting plates rather than whole servings of a dish – This allowed us to sample 3 starters and 4 main dishes. I really appreciated Daniel’s suggestion of tasting plates – when doing a menu review I don’t really see the need to fill up on mountains of starch.
Only one of the three starters stood out – the Thai Fish Cakes (R45) jam packed with chunks of fresh line fish were delish with nuances of lemon, ginger and oyster sauce. The Cajun Calamari (R45) and Prawn Six Pack at R60 (crumbed and battered deep fried prawns) were unremarkable. I loved the Strawberry sorbet to cleanse our palates and we galloped on to the next course.
The mains were a totally different story – WOW! My love affair with lamb continues - Lamb Loin chops with a Savannah & Cranberry jus (R120) – juicy and tender with a perfect creamy mustard mash, the Fillet with Béarnaise Sauce(300g for R125 or 200g for R95) got hubby’s eyes rolling back in his head with pleasure as he announced to the whole restaurant that they should be eating this...
The Norwegian Salmon (R120) in a simple honey and soy basting on a coriander and mustard seed sweet potato mash and topped with wasabi butter was my dish of the day! I really enjoyed the clean fresh flavours of this uncomplicated dish – and the sweet potato mash was awesome. A very close second was the fresh Kingklip cooked to perfection with a simple lemon butter sauce.
What a meal! We couldn’t possibly manage dessert on top of all this food but we were given a “d(e)ssertation” by the lady at the table next to us on how much she enjoyed her dessert of crème brulee!
The restaurant has an outside lounge area suitable for after dinner drinks and chats – I have eaten there previously with friends and this was exactly how we ended our evening by enjoying a cognac outside on a warm summers evening. Dish is so nice and spacious and would make an excellent venue for staff or large family Christmas functions.
Dish was reviewed by our resident Durban foodie Janice Tripepi. Read her incredible food blog here.