Review: Indulgence in Dunkeld
The fine-dining DW eleven-13 makes more famous grill houses look like amateurs ruining meat
This spot, at the backside of the Dunkeld West shopping centre, has been host to other good restaurants - Lupos and Cite - so it must be auspicious. The latest decor has cool cream-avocado colours, a bit of florally stuff, tub leather chairs for loafing in and an assortment of chairs for the tables. It's all restrained and quietly classy. At first, the lunchtime music was a bit elevator but it settled into some great lazy jazz.
There is a special two- or three-course lunch menu but, dining with a fussy friend on a funny diet, I ate à la carte, with a choice of seven starters and desserts and six main courses.
Short can be imaginative in the hands of a good chef, and this is. Every dish is a culinary creation, salads fall under side dishes. Starters included steak tartare, marinated salmon, scallops, prawns foie gras and a confit tomato and goats' cheese tart. Mains covered chicken, fillet, lamb, poached salmon and quail. The style is modern European fusion leaning towards French and Italian, and then the menu changes every few months.
The waiter knew what he was talking about, whether it was explaining the day's specials or the menu.
The wine list leaned to the expensive side, no plonk to offend this food.
I started with Italian springrolls (R60), perhaps because they sounded just wrong. They were very mini, contained smoked mozzarella, rocket and parma ham, and were utterly delicious, served with a sweet wine sauce. My fussy companion had no starter, but did climb into a rib-eye steak (R125) off the specials, served with a bone marrow sauce and triple-cooked chips. She raved over every mouthful, especially the steak, then the sauce, then the chips. I had a lamb rack (R120), three generous cutlets which came as I requested, medium rare, on a bed of peperonata (stewed bell peppers) and caramelised tomato lamb jus. Again, it was brilliant and made more famous grill houses look like amateurs ruining meat.
I had to go one further with an Eton mess (R40), this one made with tiny meringues instead of broken ones, whipped cream and chopped strawberries, topped by tasteful slices of the same. The taste was perfect, the neat presentation just slightly contradicted the name and the image of Eton schoolboys tucking into piles of messy muck at a cricket match.
Including a bottle of water, a glass of sauvignon blanc and two cappuccinos, the bill came to R417 before the tip. Not an everyday price bracket for lunch or dinner, but worth every cent because this is one of the best restaurants in town, easily. It's rare, especially in Johannesburg, to feel you have been fed by a master and that you can't wait to return for more.
Marthinus Ferreira was trained at the Institute of Culinary Arts and has worked as a chef for over eight years, including in England.
He has worked at Impalila Islands Lodge near Victoria Falls; La Colombe in Cape Town; Circle in Greenside; Sculphoek Guesthouse in Hermanus; the Riverside Brasserie in the UK; Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck and Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Café. The man is young enough to be clearly passionate about his food. That, and his experience, shows.
WHERE IT HAPPENED:
Dunkeld West Shopping Centre, corner Jan Smuts Avenue and Bompas Road, Dunkeld West, Johannesburg.
Phone 0113410663 or visit www.dw11-13.co.za.