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2016 Boschendal Style Award nominee: ASH Restaurant

Our next contender for the 2016 Boschendal Style Award is ASH, the edgy charcoal-dining eatery in Cape Town. Here’s why it deserves its nomination as the most stylish restaurant in SA.

Design details

The look: Cool and edgy
The location: Church Street, Cape Town
The creatives: Design by Marco Simal of Studio Simal and executed by Carlos La, and Lloyd Stocks of Stocks Projects. Kitchen design by chef Ash Heeger with Mac Brothers.

The style

Moody and dark, the below-ground Church Street space captures the atmosphere of the edgy Frankie Fenner butchery that used to occupy this space, with a glass fridge of hanging meat.

The Frankie Fenner meat fridge inside ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

The Frankie Fenner meat fridge inside ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

Although the butchery has moved largely off-site, the decor had to be designed to combine the restaurant, Publik Wine Bar, and a smaller butchery into one cohesive space.

“The challenge with this space was to get the look and feel of the restaurant to match the food, which is unpretentious and stripped of any unnecessary, frilly elements but still of an exceptional quality”, explains business partner Andy Fenner. “To do this, we’ve tried to keep it slick and polished but also accessible and approachable. With two existing brands already in there, we didn’t want to alienate our regulars. People should still feel like they can pop in to grab a glass of wine at the bar, or to buy a few ribeyes for their braai. That was the goal.”

The bar inside ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

The bar inside ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

A mix of bar-style seating, glass service counters and lower tables on the kitchen side achieve just that. Dramatic colours, matte wood, glass accents, and marble-topped tables complete the look.

The focal point of the room, though, is undoubtedly the kitchen. In what is possibly one of the coolest open kitchens in Cape Town, chef Ash Heeger and her smartly clad team work against a backdrop of teal and black tiles. The gleaming kitchen, with its charcoal oven, was designed by Ash herself alongside the team from Mac Brothers.

The marble-topped dining tables and open kitchen at ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

The marble-topped dining tables and open kitchen at ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

The cuisine

The food here is big and ballsy, and dishes use a nose-to-tail cooking style. Think sweet and sticky ribs, puffed pigskin crackling, and rolled lamb. The signature dish is the pig head scrumpet: succulent pigs’ head meat with a crunchy outer crumb, szechuan-spiced apple sauce and perfect petals of onion. Ash explains: “It probably encompasses our ethos the most out of any dish on the menu. It challenges people to look at offal in a new, fresh light. It also showcases how closely we work with FFMM to use the entire beast”.

The rolled lamb at ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

The rolled lamb at ASH. Photo by Matthew Ibbotson.

Does ASH have what it takes to win the 2016 Boschendal Style Award? Find out at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards on 20 November 2016. Buy tickets now.

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