Inside at Ash

ASH Restaurant

Cost
R170 - R190 avg main meal
Ambience
Contemporary cool, Family friendly, Hip & happening
Food
Contemporary fare, Modern
Payment
Mastercard, Snapscan, Visa
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Critic's review

Food
This eagerly awaited charcoal-cooking-themed eatery is a joint venture by chef Ash Heeger, who’s worked at La Colombe and The Test Kitchen in Cape Town and The Ledbury and Dinner by Heston in London, in partnership with Publik Wine Bar.

The one-page menu is pretty exciting, with big and ballsy flavours. We kick off with the whimsically titled ‘snackles’ section, opting for game-changing puffed pig skin sprinkled with spice; sweet and sticky lamb ribs; and pig head scrumpets, which reward our courage tenfold with inner tenderness and crunchy outer crumb, szechuan-spiced apple sauce and perfect petals of onion. The modestly named ‘cheese on toast’ blows us away with its glossy parmesan sauce, onion mayo and tangy chives to offset the richness. As a nice unexpected touch, the kitchen sections it into slivers – one for each guest at the table. Our side of sourdough bread arrives with two giant quenelles, one of butter and the other of whipped chicken fat, which is surprisingly light in texture in flavour.

Under ‘colds’ we go for a stellar beef tartare with peppery greens (one of the favourites of the day), before proceeding to mains of a slow-cooked egg under a blanket of crispy kale and silky mushroom sauce; rolled lamb with fragrant rosemary oil and an ass-kicking gentleman’s relish; and a burger that is somewhat overshadowed by its neighbours.

To end the meal, the lemon meringue’s coconut base, very citrusy curd and beehive of just-torched Italian meringue culminate in a bold and delicious dish. The peanut-butter cookie sandwich with milk-stout ice cream is fun, and more dexterity is shown with the light vanilla cheesecake mousse accompanied by doughnut balls, and a portion of freshly baked madeleines.

Drinks
With David Cope of Publik Wine Bar looking after this side of the offering, you know you’re in good hands. The menu has a handy by-the-glass section and one of the most interesting selections of lesser-known and boutique bottles in town. You can bet you’ll find something new to try; else ask for expert advice.

Service
These are the big leagues. Water and wine are topped up discreetly; plates, crockery and napkins are replaced after each course; and the team manages the request of our group to move to another table with aplomb.

Ambience
ASH is moody and dark down the stairs off Church street, reminiscent of its history as the Frankie Fenner butchery (which services the restaurant but has moved mostly off-site), with marble-topped tables and a glass fridge of hanging meat. In what is possibly the coolest open kitchen ever – those teal and black tiles! – a smartly clad bevy of chefs moves around, stirring, slicing and dicing. Chef Ash is ever visible, either with her sleeves rolled up in the kitchen or stopping at tables to talk through the dishes.

And… 

A hard-core extractor fan erases any trace of smoke, so that at first you wonder where all this ‘charcoal cooking’ is happening. But the trusty Josper is there, taking pride of place in the kitchen and lending a delicious smokiness to many of the dishes.

(June 2016)

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User reviews

  • Went there on a not to busy Thursday evening, quite early. Had some high expectations because of all the good reviews and texts in magazines. To summit the overall experience when i went out, really disappointed and would not go there to eat. Starting with the service which was ok but not really passionated about what they´re doing. A lot of the staff is just standing around, which makes you feel uncomfortable. They got some really good chosen wines in there from Publik. But the wine is not served in wine glasses, just in normal looking water glasses. The starters were all quite ok but nothing special. We were all waiting with high expectations to our meat which was highly recommended at Ash. As the meat was served i already saw that it wasn´t medium as i ordered it was medium-well. I didn´t enjoyed it at all the meat was nothing special, could have done the same with a meat from checkers. As a side i had Pommes anna (something like thicker fried) with a lemon mayo. All of that hasn´t had a taste, the mayo was just like a butter, really discussing. We didn´t ordered a desert, we didn´t want it to get worse. Just a side thing: I read a interview of ash saying that in her restaurant the cooks are serving the food themselves because it is hard to find good service personal who knows about food. Havn´t seen that there. Don´t make such states if they´re not true! Hopefully those are just starting difficulties!
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  • Charcoal-cooking as a concept intrigued me, and a being a fan of Publik's selection of wine, and good red meat, the choice to go to Ash was easy. The sourdough bread & butter appetiser and the meringues that came with the bill framed the evening. The meat was tasty, but a little overcooked. It did however come with a very generous portion of the best mash ever. The chocolate fondant was good, and even-thought the charcoal-infused icecream worked really well with it, it didn't impress. We wished we ordered the burnt tart our neighbours had. Overall you an expect a good vibe,an excellent wine selection, quality meat and some of Cape Town's best coffee. It's definitely worth a visit.
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  • we had the pleasure of dining at Ash during the crazy busy period of the Design Indaba. the meal and service was brilliant! I'm still dreaming of the asian mussel dish!
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  • an excellent addition to Cape Town, the quality of food is very good especially the meat. Thought pricing was a bit upside down, some dishes are of great value and others somewhat out of range, especially the side dishes; R 50 for a bowl of potatoes, mash or baked is high indeed for Cape Town pricing. wines are also on the high side
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  • Loved our visit to Ash. We shared starters of bread with chicken butter, pig's head scrumpet (which is served almost like rissoles, with a delicious apple miso sauce), and a special of lamb ribs that wasn't on the menu. All delicious except the lamb ribs, which were a bit on the fatty side. For main course, our table had the sirloin, the duck and the lamb, with bone marrow mash, cabbage and carrots as sides. The steaks were well-cooked and flavoursome, while the lamb was tasty, if a bit dry. The duck was raved about. The bone marrow sauce for the steak and the bone marrow mash were outstanding, as was the cabbage side. For dessert we ordered the doughnuts & cheesecake, which were delicious, but the doughnuts could have done with being slightly warmed. The dessert portions are large, so two portions of doughnuts was enough for our table of 6. The only thing I wasn't that keen on is having to book either the 6.30 or the 8.30 sitting - one is too early and the other is too late!
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  • I and my guests were left disappointed and underwhelmed on Friday night, after all the hype and rave reviews. Maybe because it was that Chef Ash was not in the kitchen, but the food from starters to desserts was not good! I know my food and many of you have read my reviews on TA, so it pains me to say that for a place specialising in MEAT, all the meat we had was overcooked/dry/tasteless/not high quality. Now you are all laughing because Franky Fenner is known for his top quality meat produce, but on friday, the chefs in the kitchen really f-d up. The ham starter was dry, the strumpet was dry and under-seasoned, the beef tartare was the worst i have had! The meat cut they used on friday was grissly/chewy - and not soft and tender. The duck leg was good, however the duck breast i could have cooked it better. The lamb neck I think it was was dry/over cooked. The bone marrow mash was okay, slightly bitter after taste. The lemon meringue and apple crumble desserts were overly sweet. Frankly, the BEST most enjoyed dish on the table were the Tom Yum Mussels!!! Hope Chef Ash gets her meat and dishes up to scratch. Also the place is loud, and the service is ok. I won't go back - I have so many other amazing choices in the CBD.
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  • Of the current crop of exciting new restaurants that have recently opened in Bree Street and surrounds, Ash has impressed me the most. Everything we had was exceptional, plated unpretentiously and had serious flavour. The tartare is a reinvention of the classic dish that doesn't compromise on the original, served with a green oil that adds amazing depth to the meat. Our waiter recommended the pig head scrumpets, which came with an apple miso sauce to counter the richness of the pork meat. For mains, fresh Saldanha mussels and slow cooked lamb, both simple and extremely flavourful . The ice-cream sandwich with milk stout ice-cream was served in a brown paper bag, which was strange and a bit off-putting. Definitely going back to try the marrow mash and the lemon meringue. Paired with Publik's interesting and unusual wine offering and the beautifully minimalist interior, it made for a dinner that showcases why Cape Town is the best food city in the world at the moment.
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  • I got to go to Ash in Church Street CT for lunch today. Everything I ate was absolutely delicious, but felt that the lunch menu was somewhat limited. Perhaps my own tastes were the problem. I had or tasted the hamburger (mustard mayo, Ementaler fermented ketchup, red onion, pickles and sweet butter bun), the beetroot &fennel salad (almond praline, baby leaves, raw, pickled and cooked beets, buffalo curds and dressing) and slow cooked lamb ribs. A very interesting wine menu ( many boutique winery offerings not known to me) but quite pricey. We took home a few freshly made Madeleines and doughnuts and some of Franky Fenner's biltong (very salty but very good flavour).. Service was of an extremely high standard and staff generally were delightful. Loved the well designed open plan kitchen. Sleek and modern environment. It's a place you should visit.
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Menu

Set menu - ASH - Menu - updated in September 2017

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Dinner
  • Dog-friendly
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking

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