Dear Me Restaurant, Cape Town, 04.08.11.


Dear Me is a funny name to call a restaurant with such amazing food. Dear Me because I’m taken far away by the great food? Dear Me because more people don’t know about it? Dear Me because it’s seemingly dainty? Dear Me because it’s so hidden?

Dear Me is situated in Long Market street, up the road from the famed Greenmarket Square. Dear Me seems hidden as there is no light to highlight the restaurant, resulting in half of our group simply walking past the restaurant before the car guards showed us where to go! I can only imagine how many people miss this little gem! Or is it purposely hidden in order to keep the hungry masses out of its doors? Open during lunch times and on Thursday evenings ONLY for dinner, Dear Me has slowly been creeping up in the marketing world. With a few features on tv and online, I found this little restaurant on but it was a friend who invited me out for dinner.

Booking a few weeks in advance (Thursdays get booked quickly) we had all decided EXACTLY what we wanted from the beautiful menu. However, on arrival the menu (and the prices) had changed! This wasn’t the best news as all the beautiful delights that we had been counting down to eat had changed. Each week the menu as Dear Me is new. We decided to start the choosing process all over again (a tough thing to do!) and enjoy the meal.

Dear me is a multi-leveled establishment withh ‘modern palace’ like decor in the main eating room, arty large family table and quirky mini lounge. Upstairs is Tjing Ching, a trendy bar which has warm decor and polite staff, a great pre-dinner drink option if you’re waiting for your company to arrive.

For me, the time old decision when visiting a beautiful restaurant is: do I go with the flavours I know I like? Or do I try something different since they’ll be presented as well as ever by master chefs? I chose the later.The hostess presented us with a pork tarine and rye toast amuse-bouche, illustrating the power of full flavours in just one mouthful. Tasty!

To start, I had the duck ham, split pea vinaigrette and mesclun salad. (What? basically a salad with micro herbs). The flavours were beautiful but if I’m critical…cold beans tend to be grainy…and these peas were. Is that how it’s meant to be? There were shreds of celery or celery leaves or SOMETHING celery in there which would pop up on the odd mouthful and give the dish an amazing fresh kick. That was an artistic touch. Next we had some raspberry sorbet, palate cleanser with a vitamin boost! Extremely refreshing!

As my main I had the buffalo fillet, spiced butternut fritter, fine beans and bone marrow jus. I was skeptical as to whether the buffalo really was buffalo but chose it none the less. The waitress assured us it was but would they really be honest? (They wouldn’t be the first restaurant to swear the warthog ribs weren’t pork!). I was fascinated by the buffalo fillet which was cooked to perfection. Colour on the outside, rare in the middle, but with no bloody juices running around the plate (my worst). I think they must have baked it in the oven after sealing and it was perfect! The pumpkin fritters were a delight and green beans being one of my favourites, the dish was completed by a spoon-in-the-marrow bone! The marrow jus was deep in flavour and brought the dish together. My only criticism is that I would have liked a touch more salt on my fillet. I don’t usually add salt to my food but I felt that it needed a small hint of salt just to balance the actually fillet flavour.

For dessert I chose the ginger and fig sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. The other option was chocolate orange and a cheese board. Going with ‘something’ different, the pudding was heart warming and hearty. The chocolate pot was DELICIOUS, the definite winner of the day but incredibly rich so we didn’t manage to finish it even though we all tucked in!

The hostess on the evening was brilliant, the waiter well informed but unfortunately the service dwindled as the evening progressed. The cheese plates were ordered on top of the set menu (meant to be 3rd course), and it took us about half an hour to get our bill. We left at about 10:45 whilst 10:15 would have been better.

Over all, in opposition to me, my friend ordered all the flavours she liked and was blown away by the meal. I chose to have something different and felt a bit sorry for it at the end of the meal. Let me clarify that this has nothing to do with the quality of food but rather one’s own personal taste. The food at Dear Me is WONDERFUL: fresh, balanced with great depth of flavour (and decent portions), a really wonderful culinary experience. Next time I’ll be sure to pick my favourite flavours so I can also have my eyes roll back in my head with oral delight, just like my friend!

Thanks Dear Me, I’ll definitely be back!

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