There’s a new hot restaurant in town…Dalliance is the name on everyone’s lips because they’re really gone in with a great PR strategy to get us locals talking. And boy are we talking! Now I usually hate restaurants at the Waterfront because they’re priced for tourists and ain’t nobody got time for that. Especially with the Rand dropping faster than a lead balloon and quality being best elsewhere. So when I was invited to Dalliance, I checked out their menu and I was surprisingly impressed. I love tapas and small plate eating as it gives you the space to try a number of things, keeps you light (or full enough) during summer and makes the meal far more social, which is exactly what Dalliance is all about.
It was a cool summer’s evening when we visited this January. I always park at the far, back-end of the Waterfront (near the Clicks) as I just enjoy shopping in that half of the mall. Parking is easy and it’s more quiet. This is what we did and it was perfect to find Dalliance (down the golden mile “aisle”, past Louis Vitton). A single restaurant, midway down the mall, gives Dalliance a less touristy feeling (nothing wrong with tourists) and a more local feel.
We entered the restaurant and were greeted by lovely staff from the get go. The guys were really friendly (not over board Primi friendly) but welcoming and helpful. They assisted us in choosing cocktails and we took in the gorgeous view. I love the backside of the V&A because I can always see dolphins and the colours are so pretty.
I ordered the Down Dog. Made with vodka, grapes, ginger, passion fruit and vanilla sugar, it was surprising! I had expected something quite different, something more fruity tasting, this has more of a mature flavour, but I enjoyed it.
Dalliance has rather quirky decor! Little round, boat like windows with quirky red hearts, strange but it’s also modern and fresh. With brick faced wall and imageless frames, it’s a modern setting with personality.
Then came the food recommendations and boy were we spoilt! I don’t eat seafood so I didn’t bother going anywhere near there but we did tuck into 6 main dishes including the pepper cubed beef fillet, fillet, beef short rib, lamb chops, raclette cheese and butter chicken.
Pepper Cubed Beef Fillet: since Mr John only eats pork and beef, this was for him. The meat was really tender though and the pepper sauce was EXCELLENT! One of the best pepper sauces that I’ve had for quite some time.
Fillet served with Bearnaise and Skinny Fries: Again, simple but delicious. Another excellent sauce, made with fresh tarragon (the chef told me that they buy all the fresh tarragon they can get their hands on!). The meats were cooked beautifully and perfectly seasoned.
Beef Short Rib with Mushroom Duxelle & Bone Marrow Gratin: Now this is a gluttonous dish, which meant I HAD to order it. I love beef and mushrooms so I thought this was a clever pairing. Unfortunately I was so caught up in all the wonderful dishes that were arriving that when I was eating the duxelle, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I couldn’t remember what I was eating but it was so delicious; and along side the indulgent bone marrow, just gorgeous.
Lamb Chops: Simply prepared with olive oil, lemon, garlic and rosemary, Dalliance adds a wonderful touch by burning the rosemary in the serving bowl. So as your grilled, charcoally chops arrive at the table, so does a cloud of wispy, rosemary infused smoke that gives the plate a wonderful aroma and flavour. I actually rubbed one of the fresh lemons onto my chop just to add a little extra sharpness and it was delicious!
Raclette Cheese: Now this may seem like more of a lunch time type item but there’s something so satisfying about receiving perfectly melted cheese. Whether wine or garlic is added is not magic I care to acknowledge, I just love the oozy, cheesy goodness of a raclette. And with Dalliance serving theirs with PAPER thin sourdough melba toast, I loved its simplicity.
Butter Chicken: Upon our server’s suggestion, I ordered the butter chicken curry with naan bread. This was one of my least favourite dishes not because it was bad, but I just didn’t love it. I’m not a big curry fan and it wasn’t enough to convince me otherwise. It’s a nice portion size though so if you do visit with hungry friends, this is a good one to share.
Well at this point we nearly didn’t bother ordering dessert as we were stuffed and satisfied! But our servers REALLY encouraged us to have some of the dessert and boy were we happy they did. Stuffed as we may have been, we tasted the Creme Caramel, Baked Pineapple Cheesecake, the Chocolate Beignets and the Strawberry and lemongrass sorbet rice crispy treats.
Creme Caramel: Well I’m a sucker for a smooth, cool dessert like a panna cotta or creme caramel so I really enjoyed this. Made with fresh ice cream (which is made at their sister businesses, not bought in), the crunch in the dessert perfectly set off the accompanying smooth, cool textures. Delicious.
Chocolate Fondant: The chocolate fondant always has so much to live up to yet doesn’t always manage to do it. Not in this case. The Dalliance chocolate fondant was classic delicious! OOZY, gooey, TASTY!
The Baked Pineapple Cheesecake: Unfortunately, I did not care for this at all. The dehydrated pineapple was a lovely touch, but the actual cheesecake lacked flavour and was too firm, not the ‘right’ texture – I couldn’t even tell you if it was baked for fridge. I left the whole thing. The ice cream was yum though!
The Chocolate Beignets. Well when Kim Kardashian is pregnant she flies to Paris for this restaurant’s particular beignets and I’m starting to understand why. Once you’ve had a good beignets, it’s hard to forget. WOW! These were divine! Small enough to pop into your mouth, without adopting the otter look, enjoy as chocolate oozes into your mouth from the soft pastries. DIVINE I TELL YOU!
Rice Crispy Treats & Lemongrass sorbet. Well I love rice crispy treats but I hardly ever have them. I hadn’t actually ordered them this evening as they were a special and we were full enough, but our server INSISTED that we tried them and so we did. Apart each component wasn’t that spectacular, but together, WOW! What a different eating experience!The lemongrass ice cream is almost savoury, against the sweet raspberry couli. The 2 flavours go SO well together! What a surprise!
I had accompanied my meal with the classic Haute Cabriere – Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2011 as well as a glass of Rupert & Rothschild Baroness Nadine Chardonnay (I think!), but I found the lighter wine was better for summer time and eating.
In terms of positioning, look, Dalliance has to cover its exorbitant V&A rent just like all the other shops based there. Because of this, their meals aren’t cheap. Our meal was over R1000, which is pretty hefty for a regular Wednesday date night. If you have visitors in town and you want something that’s modern-occasion, somewhere a bit special, keep Dalliance in mind. You won’t regret the money you spend on the food and wine, but it’s not your regular local that you’ll be frequenting all the time. We were totally spoilt this evening and were very lucky to be so spoilt.
Dalliance is a refreshing addition to the Waterfront offering. The food is delicious, the setting comfortable and dreamy (those views!) and the service was excellent. The chef even came to chat to all the tables (not just ours) at the end of the evening which is great for those wanting to learn more about the food (me!). I’d also recommend going in 2/4/6/8 so that you can share the prices and plates for evenly. They do recommend order 6 plates for 2 people – 4 mains, 2 desserts seems reasonable.
So these are the reasons why I won’t be fitting into my wedding dress in March, but it was totally worth it. Give Dalliance a go, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you’re a visitor to Cape Town, I’d love to hear your comment too – feel free to drop them below.
To Dalliance, thanks so much for having us. We had a wonderful evening – I think I even hugged your server on the way out, oops! They really did make us feel at home though and we appreciated that. Thanks once again.