I’m not sure that Dalliance is a the right name for this trendy, new spot at the V&A Waterfront. To enjoy a dalliance is to have something fun but fleeting, a short-lived romance with a distinct lack of seriousness. And this place is, for me, quite the opposite. This is the kind of place I can see myself having a more involved relationship, one of the heart where, despite so many other places calling me to enjoy them, I want to keep coming back time and again. And being part of the Kove portfolio can’t hurt – these guys just get it right.
My very dear friend, Sivan, and I were invited to sample their new al a carte menu. They’re relatively new – only a few months old, but already they’ve found that their previous tapas menu may have missed the mark. I can’t say whether it was from the food, since I hadn’t been there before, but my instinct is that it wasn’t, and that rather the tapas trend is (finally) on its way out. I’m not altogether against the concept of sharing – I like having a little taste of what others at my table have got as much as the next person (hello food envy). But when I do love my dish, I don’t really want to go halvies – and also I’m SO bored of tapas already. Seriously, it’s enough.
In its place is this new, refreshed menu that boasts some seriously good food – well prepared, punchy flavours that don’t skulk back, and big, hearty portions. It’s evident too that the chefs will go above and beyond to get you the best of what they offer. Case in point – we’d ordered the prawns and the chef wasn’t satisfied with the size and quality of their stock, so he immediately ordered a fresh batch. We had to wait a little longer, but with a view to kill and lots to chat about over some divine rose MCC, we barely noticed! And when they did come, it was well worth the wait – tender, succulent and MASSIVE king prawns. Divine! But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start from the start(ers), shall we?
We ordered starters of oysters and spaghetti – Sivan had the spaghetti and I had the oysters. Big, plump, juicy oysters with nothing but a hit of lemon, freshly cracked black pepper and Tabasco. Classic and perfectly fresh, this was the ultimate appetiser.
For mains we had the prawns as mentioned with a chilli and garlic sauce (pure indulgence!) and a seared salmon dish, as well as the Dalliance house salad to share. It was a divine meal, everything cooked to perfection, the salmon skin crunchy and the flesh flavourful and luscious (even though the waiter didn’t ask how we’d like it, and it was slightly more well done than we would have wanted, it was actually divine as is), and the salad was a perfect accompaniment to cut through all the seafood.
For dessert, we hesitated for all of 10 seconds and settled on the chocolate fondant. HEAVEN. But the yummy ice cream it came with was a scoop for ants, so we (cheekily) asked for more and they swiftly brought us a proper, big scoop ;)
Our neighbours were sampling the Marshmallow dessert, which was intriguing – layers of chocolate, peanut butter, mango and toasted marshmallows. We talked about maybe getting it but we’re chocolate girls, so we had to have the fondant. Luckily, our neighbours offered us a taste of it because a) it was HUGE and b) it was DELICIOUS! It tasted nothing like I’d expected – the flavours combine to a sort of Turkish Delight dessert. Sublime and well worth the R100 considering it can easily be shared by 3 or 4 people.
They’ve been clever here: not overdone yet noticeable, while still maintaining all focus on nature. The decor, lighting and furniture contribute to a sophisticated and stylish space, but with bold accents like the fully copper bar and the glass panel windows that make the ocean and sky the perfect backdrop. The atmosphere is energetic, yet conversely quite calming, with swift service that allows you dwell on your meal and the gorgeous surrounds. The music isn’t too loud (my worst), the furniture comfortable and the dining area is spacious. So they’re listening to what customers really want! Really, really clever – and it’s really, really appreciated.
All in all, I have to say Dalliance is wonderful. A little hidden away gem which is great (you get to be away from the hustle and bustle of the Waterfront and look out over a beautiful view of the ocean and sunset). Of course, if it were more central, people would be all over it like a hive, so perhaps it’s quite lovely that it’s a little out of the way. The chef is generous not only with his cooking but with his time, and not a shred of the usual ego. The food reflects this humility but proudly showcases talent, and the atmosphere here allows you to focus on the food rather than simply people-watching. So refreshing!
Do yourself a favour – spoil yourself with this chic spot, just make sure it’s more than just a short-lived dalliance ;)
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