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First taste at Michelin-trained chef’s new Constantia venture

Michelin-trained chef Dylan Laity produces exquisite plates of food at the latest addition to the Harbour House Group, The Restaurant @ The Nek. Enjoy an eight-course fine-dining menu inspired by local South African flavours, with spectacular views of the Constantia Valley.

 

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Fast facts

Cost: R820 for eight-course tasting menu and R1220 with wine pairing
Food type: Fine dining
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Service: 3; Ambience: 4

Food

The eight-course tasting menu does take a little time, so book an early table. The evening kicks off with a savoury vetkoek dusted in dried vinegar – a sophisticated take on salt-and-vinegar flavours – served with snoek and mackerel pâté and pickled apple. The acidic components are perfectly tempered by the creamy pâté and fresh apple – I could easily have eaten more.

 

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Next up is Mozambican langoustine with amasi, kimchi and tom yum jelly. It’s another artful pairing of flavours and textures, with the sourness of the kimchi and amasi complementing the richness of the langoustine. The third and fourth plates – raw Karan beef in rooikrans coal oil, fermented chilli, lemon and mustard; and roasted cauliflower with Hanepoot grapes, capers, mint and yeast – also deliver on flavour. The lemon and mustard act as good foils to the meat (though the chilli is perhaps a little understated), while the bright green emulsion accompanying the cauliflower brings a welcome fresh element after the preceding meaty course.

 

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Spiced hake with chermoula, parsley, organic carrots and brown butter is a nod to Malay flavours. The hake is perfectly cooked, moistened by the brown butter. The well-cooked springbok loin with semi-dried beetroot, blueberries, kale and celeriac forms the last of the savoury courses. The blueberries add a burst of sweetness, relieving the saltiness of the meat and accompanying jus, while shards of crispy kale and crunchy beetroot add pleasing textural elements. There are two desserts, one fresh and one rich: naartjie sorbet with crème fraîche, walnut, gooseberry and basil; and Amarula and white chocolate mousse with feuilletine, green tea, coconut and litchi. The naartjie sorbet is refreshingly cool, with the crème fraîche providing a creamy element and the walnuts adding crunch. The Amarula mousse is as decadent as it sounds, with the bright flavours of coconut and litchi providing relief from the richness of the chocolate.

 

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Drinks

The Restaurant @ The Nek has a well-built wine list with solid local representation and a few imported options, such as French champagne, plus a good by-the-glass variety available at reasonable prices. Spirits and soft drinks are also on offer.

 

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Service

Well-intentioned but still a little bumpy.

Ambience

The 100-year-old space is dressed in natural tones of wood and stone, with a beautiful botanically themed mural on the back wall. The restaurant is light and airy, with great views of the Constantia Valley.

 

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* A ‘first taste’ is a review conducted in the first couple of weeks of opening, when it is expected that the team will still be finding their feet and other small changes may still occur. 

Have you also already been to The Restaurant @ The Nek? Tell us about it in a review and we’ll pledge a meal for a hungry child through Rise Against Hunger SA. Download our free app for the quickest reviewing experience. 

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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