The clubhouse restaurant space at the tranquil Dunkirk Estate in Salt Rock has seen many eateries open and close over the years. The latest to launch is the already popular Ray’s Kitchen, which is owned by Paul Sheppard (of Marco Paulo in Mount Edgecombe) and chef Ray Friedman. Nikita Buxton heads to the balmy north-coast shore to see if Ray’s is here to stay.
Price: R100 average for a main
Serves: Sophisticated yet unpretentious café food
Best for: Lazy lunches on the deck with family
Parking: There’s ample parking outside the restaurant
Star ratings: food 5, service 4, ambience 4
The menu consists of a small selection of starters and nibbles, a good selection of pastas, risottos, pizzas and meaty grills, and a blackboard offering of two or three desserts. They also do daily specials, which repeat some customer favourites.
For starters, we go straight for the fishcake special – after hearing a few tables asking for it – and the tuna spring rolls. The large crumbed fishcake would definitely be enough for a light main. It’s packed with fresh flaky white fish and potato, and served with a dollop of zingy crushed avocado. The spring rolls had a gorgeous texture with just-cooked tuna encased in a crisp light pastry, and served with a salad of spicy cucumber shavings and dipping sauce.
The main portions at Ray’s Kitchen are hearty enough to take home for seconds. The fillet steak is perfectly cooked with a touch of char, and arrives with crispy fries and an abundance of bright market veggies. Pasta lovers will be fans of the homemade offerings here. We try the panzerotti special: al dente pillows are filled with plump pink prawns and spicy chorizo, and are tossed in a glossy tomato-and-cream sauce. For vegetarians, the wild mushroom risotto with bright green tenderstem broccoli is luscious and well seasoned, with an added shaving of nutty grana padano.
For desserts, there’s only one calling our name: the dark-chocolate fondant with vanilla-bean ice cream. Spooning into the small decadent dome leads to the satisfying ooze of glossy, rich chocolate with a slight hint of salt. The cool and creamy dollop of ice cream is a simple but perfect accompaniment.
There’s a small but decent drinks list with wine options such as L’Ormarins Brut, Cape of Good Hope Altima Sauvignon Blanc, and Klein Constantia Cab Merlot. The glassware definitely needs some attention; the wine and champagne flutes are a little on the thick side.
Staff are friendly with just the right level of attentiveness.
Ray’s Kitchen is a relaxing space surrounded by indigenous leafy trees and coastal shrubbery that rustle in the humid breeze. The deck is large and sunlit with a sparkling pool, while the interior is clad in contemporary nature-inspired decor in calming muted hues. The wraparound glass doors open up onto the deck, creating a breezy feel throughout the space.
They have a dedicated poolside section on the menu with lighter, easy-to-eat options for those wanting to lounge on the deck after a dip.
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