A new chapter has commenced at 1 Hout Bay Road and, this time around, Chef Dylan Laity is the author! With cheffing experience at The Roundhouse (Camps Bay), Aubergine (Cape Town CBD), and a London-based Michelin starred restaurant under his belt, Chef Dylan has taken up the reins at The Restaurant @ The Nek, which, just two years ago, was given a total makeover by the Harbour House Group. Now, this restaurant is up and running and ready to secure its fair share of Cape Town’s hungry diners.
Décor and ambiance
Perched right at the top of Constantia Nek just before one descends into the valley of Hout Bay, The Restaurant @ The Nek and its neighbour, La Parada, occupy a truly beautiful location. Inside, the space is light and airy, with seamless indoor-outdoor flow. The views from here are spectacular: a thriving herb garden with a birdbath (at which I saw Cape canaries drinking) lead the eye to the emerald vineyards of the Constantia valley, the Cape’s oldest wine producing region. The restaurant décor is clean, elegant, and sophisticated and complimented by botanical-inspired highlights, such as indigenous flower arrangements and artworks. I especially loved the colourful wallpaper, which dominates the wall at the far end of the restaurant.
Wine and Dine
For starters, we were served sweet bites of Mozambican langoustine tossed with kimchi, fresh coriander, sesame seeds, and salmon roe, served on a creamy bed of amasi, a fermented milk that tastes like yoghurt. This was followed by a kind of steak tartare dish: nuggets of rare Karan beef sirloin mixed with Rooikrans coal oil, onion, English mustard mayonnaise, fermented chilli, lemon, and micro greens, served on a swath of sweet caper and apple jam. I loved the crispy puffed rice that Chef Dylan threw in for texture and the sweetness of the jam added depth and complexity to the dish.
The third course was a fillet of hake rubbed with chermoula butter, a spice mixture made from olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and coriander that’s typically used in Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan, and Tunisian cooking. This was served on a carrot and cashew nut purée with organically grown carrots, parsley, micro greens, and a delicious and rich brown butter. Next up was the meat course: two beautifully pink and tender slices of springbok loin rubbed with crushed pine-needles (from Newlands forest) and served with blueberries, shredded trumpet mushroom, semi-dried beetroot, turnip, and a crown of crispy deep-fried kale.
The final flourish was probably the most incredible dessert I’ve had in recent memory: an amarula and white chocolate mousse topped with crunchy chocolate granola or “soil”, dried green tea leaves, and a dollop of creamy coconut sorbet. But it didn’t end there… once this bowl of marvels had been placed before us, the server came around with a dish of litchi and lime juice that, using solid nitrogen, had been frozen into a kind of fragrant, fruity snow. This sublime (and subliming) snow was sprinkled over our dessert and the result was food heaven!
I find Chef Dylan Laity to be bold with his food, creating dishes that are hearty in flavour, layered in texture, and rich in delivery. Oh, and let’s not forget, absolutely beautiful to behold! I adored every course set before us, which was enhanced by sommelier Jestine Ngonyamo’s excellent selection of wines: the fresh, fruity, and partially barrel fermented Zevenwacht Chenin Blanc 2017 from Stellenbosch and the silky, sultry Doran Vineyards Shiraz 2015 from the Swartland region.
Off to a fabulous start
With a five-course meal I found hard to fault, lovely wine accompaniments, and a gorgeous, breath-takingly beautiful space in which to enjoy it all, Chef Dylan Laity’s Restaurant @ The Nek is off to a fine start, offering Capetonians and the city’s visitors another sterling place to dine this summer season and beyond!
The Restaurant @ The Nek serves lunch and dinner from Tuesdays through to Sundays. For bookings, call (27) (21) 795 0688 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.