(Images by Kate Liquorish)
Following its immense pop-up success, Luke Dale-Robert’s X Saxon has established itself as a gourmet destination with no end to the ‘pop-up’ in sight. And, in keeping with a theme of all things experimental, Chef Dale-Robert’s right-hand woman, Head Chef Candice Philip, has been given a well-deserved opportunity to showcase her talents alongside her mentor.
Dale-Roberts is now treating diners to the option of a series of dishes created by him as well as Philip, showcasing their shared talents and creative energy in an aptly named Four Hands Menu. The five-course menu will also change more regularly than the Tasting Menu, as it lends itself to showing off the fruits of Dale-Roberts's and Philip's experimentation and play in the kitchen.
The gourmet, 8 course, Tasting Menu usually sets patrons back about R1330 (before the addition of tea or wine pairings), whereas the new 5 course offering is currently R790 per person, making it far more affordable and, might I be so cheeky as to say, far more appealing to those with a smaller appetite..
The menu offers patrons 9 options from which they will select 5 but, on the evening of the new menu’s unveiling, we were treated to the menu in its entirety, just with smaller portions.
There’s a beautiful synergy to the menu, and whilst the two chefs are able to celebrate their differing styles (Chef Philip’s dishes are slightly more delicate, almost softer, compared to the more eclectic flavour-combinations of Chef Dale-Roberts), there’s an exquisite balance in the story being told by two chefs working towards a common goal: sheer bliss.
Highlights from Dale-Roberts include a magical scallop and crab ravioli with Asian cabbage, cucumber and kimchi (I would return solely to have this dish, it is THAT good) as well as a smoked lamb scottati with rich, smoked bone marrow, radish salad and his signature “XO dressing” - quite simply: perfection on a plate. Philip's seabass tartare with pickled shimeji mushrooms, lovage pesto and garlic Catalan was almost too beautiful to eat, and the play between the subtle flavours of the lovage, shimeji and tartare made me want to close my eyes and ears and block out the world to fully absorb and savour every intricate detail.
Desserts see Philip collaborating with pastry chef Megan Meikle to produce such wonders as a litchi yoghurt crème with dill jelly, compressed apple and litchi sorbet, a dish that’s beautifully fresh, clean and not overtly sweet, as well as a rum and raspberry dessert of rum financier, burnt plum and rum ice cream, which is the perfect ending for those who fancy sugary delights with an adult twist.
There’s a saying about too many chefs and a spoilt broth, but I’ll most certainly be going back for a seconds, thank you very much.
Luke Dale-Roberts X Saxon is open for dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Bookings are essential. The five-course Tasting menu, Vegetarian menu and Pescatarian menu are currently priced at R790; R960 with tea pairing; R1,150 paired with local wines; and R1,280 paired with international wines.
To make a reservations see the restaurant listing here.
- Kate Liquorish