They say in a rugby match that wet weather is a great leveller. When reviewing a restaurant, pricing is the leveller. If you go to a place like The Greenhouse you expect to cough up R500 a head, but you also expect to be wowed by the food flavour combinations and inspired creations from their award-winning chef. At another up-market place – where the bill is considerably less – you expect the service and food to be above average, but you won’t complain if your taste buds don't go on some cosmic voyage of discovery.
Eating out is largely about expectations. Sometimes a restaurant far exceeds them and you are gob-smacked by the artful cuisine and the professional level of service, and other times you really are left scratching your head, wondering what the hype is about (...and where the nearest McDonald's is). It happens, but generally you get what you expect.
This brings me to Dish. Newly opened at the Inn on the Square in Greenmarket Square in the centre of Cape Town. It’s a clean, modern, stylish set-up with plenty of space indoors and a lovely big double veranda that faces out onto the hub that is Greenmarket square. The décor is fresh and swish in that brand new restaurant feel. No chipped glasses, dirty aprons or frayed, laundered-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives napkins here.
The service is friendly and attentive; you are however not going to be mesmerised by a super-knowledgeable waiter describing every last reduction in detail or a sommelier recommending the perfect white blend to compliment your calamari.
I was there for lunch with editor Sam Wilson and we started with a couple of salads. The Caesar salad was overpopulated with ingredients, there was just too much of everything… bacon, dressing and anchovies. The angelfish salad lacked any real flavour despite lovely ingredients like marinated apricots and capers. They were huge portions and at R60 each, would easily do you for lunch if you are not after a gastronomic revelation.
The mains were enormous – this is definitely a one course restaurant! Sam’s burger (R65) almost devoured her while my substantial cajun calamari steak (R70) was absolutely delicious and tender. It was served with cous cous, fries AND salad.
The menu has a distinctly South African slant. Bobotie spring rolls (R55), marinated kudu carpaccio (R50), home-made ostrich burger (R65) are balanced by good old favourites like fish & chips (R65) and peppercorn sirloin steak (R75).
The desserts were delicious – the tasty coffee crème brûlée is the exact right consistency and the malva pudding is so good that I'd actually rush back for it. (Both R30 each.)
All in all, a very good value meal in most pleasant surroundings.
Now you know what to expect.