Dusk (Stellenbosch)

Dusk Restaurant is my best restaurant discovery since my semigration to the Western Cape, and indeed, since my love for #finedining began which sparked my search for food that makes your tastebuds cry tears of joy. I’ve eaten in some of the finest restaurants this country has to offer, and Dusk bolts out of the stables and rockets right to the top of the list without a doubt.

Callan Austin, who hails from Chefs Warehouse Tintswalo Atlantic, and Darren Badenhorst, who has a string of top notch restaurants, have teamed up to create a truly magical experience from the minute you step into their world. Everything from the lighting to the decor hints towards the mystical and the mysterious. The staff are suitably attentive and every one of them knows their stuff from the front of house to the sommelier to the waitron staff to the team behind the pass.

For their debut on the Western Cape culinary map, Callan and Darren present an ambitious 11 course tasting menu which consists of a few surprises that I won’t spoil here. You get drawn into the mystique and the theatre of the experience from the moment you sit down at tables designed to literally put the spotlight on the food without plunging you into complete darkness. Everything has been crafted to create an experience centered around beautiful and mind blowing food without the guilt of opulence.

I won’t go in to detail about each and every dish on the 11 course tasting menu. You get a god enough idea from the pics. Also, I don’t think FB allows that many words in a single post and I don’t want to lose you by making you drown in your own saliva, but let me say this: each dish was elevated to the highest level, perfectly executed, and creative beyond my expectation.

There must have been a hundred elements that went into the evening’s menu, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Each course was better than the one before and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, another dish would make it’s way to the table that surpassed the dish before. It was fine dining at its best. After about course number 5 I would have been happy to call it the best meal I’d ever had, have coffee and go home, but more and more and more transcendental dishes followed.

The plates are perfectly portioned so that you get a tantric, prolonged celebration of different flavours and textures without feeling like you’re going to explode when you finally, reluctantly declare that the meal is over and it’s time to go home.

The menu is paired with some unusual and interesting wines that demonstrate a depth of knowledge and care for the pairing element. The Sommelier is both knowledgeable and passionate about the role wine plays with food.

For a new kid on the #capetown #cullinary block, Dusk makes one hell of an entrance. These guys are bold, creative, and ambitious but by no means arrogant. Callan pays acute detail to sustainable sourcing and you get to understand just how deep Dusk’s philosophy to food and conserving nature goes as he explains some of the dishes. Not a scrap is wasted, and ingredients are procured from local sustainable sources, many of them foraged daily from local farms. The lobster and abalone come from sustainable sources.

Dusk is food, passion and creativity on another level.

As an added bonus, we were taken on a private tour of the kitchen and the wine cellar after dinner service was over. It gave me the impression that tonight’s menu was just the beginning. There are already ingredients in prep for future menus. The wine cellar is extensive and you get the feeling that there will be pairing menus featuring unusual or unobtainable wines for years to come.

Rarely has a dining experience left me so excited so long after the event. Yes, the build-up may have played a role, but isn’t that always part of the rollercoaster ride? The entire experience left me in wonder from the minute that first little intriguing surprise was presented at our table to moment I bit into the last petit-fore, and to the next morning when I woke up remembering the magic of the previous night.

Just as an aside, I hope that first little surprise they present at your table remains a secret only to be discovered when you’re inside Dusk’s theatrical world, like the ending of The Mousetrap, a West End play whose ending to this day, no one has ever leaked outside of the theatre.

Dusk is one to watch. Their slogan goes “At Dusk, we dine” but I’d amend to “At Dusk we blow your mind”. They open on 1st September on Plein St, Stellenbosch. I’d raid the piggy bank and get in early. I can see the Dineplan booking grid turning to grey very soon.

Big congrats and the highest praise for Callan, Darren and their team at Dusk. Boy did we dine!

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