Living in the Constantia Valley means I’m fortunate to have incredible wine farms and fine dining eateries on my doorstep. I don’t take it forgranted. Enjoying an afternoon of wining and dining is a spoil – and one I’m very grateful for, especially at the end of the year when I’ve been experiencing a good dose of “Term 4” and taking strain at the seams. Recently I was invited by the new chef at the recently relaunched The Restaurant @ The Nek (the old Harbour House at Constantia Nek) to come along and enjoy a lazy lunch with a view and a glass of Constantia wine paired with his incredible food. I didn’t hesitate!
Since the historic Constantia Nek restaurant was given a major facelift two years ago it has become a buzzing social and dining destination for locals and visitors alike. The latest dynamic development for the picturesque setting is a fine dining experience: The Restaurant @ The Nek by local talent Dylan Laity (so local, in fact, that we went to the same primary and high school down in the valley, and still have many mutual connections!)
Dylan comes to The Restaurant @ The Nek from The Roundhouse in Camps Bay, where he earned himself two consecutive Top 21 Restaurants and One Plate Awards in the prestigious JHP Gourmet Guide for 2017 and 2018. Prior to his term at this Cape Town fine dining stalwart, Dylan honed his skills at Aubergine, one of the city’s most consistently excellent fine dining eateries. He also cites his years spent in Michelin Star restaurant in London as some of his most formative and this was certainly where his journey to crafting the best edible art was started. He’s come a long way from Bergvliet!
The revamped interiors at The Restaurant @ The Nek has a more moody palette of wood, natural stone and a careful selection of Scandi-influenced furniture. The magnificent view out the windows over the Constantia Valley remains unchanged!
That being said, it is the food at The Restaurant @ The Nek that is the highlight! Bold flavours are given some interesting South African twists. A few favourites remain on the menu, such as the Mozambique Langoustines with amasi, kimchi and bursts of smoked trout roe and the Rare Karan Beef Sirloin seasoned with Rooikrans Coal Oil and fermented chillies and served on puffed rice with red pepper, lemon and mustard.
However Dylan has brought with him a cooking style that is very focused on bringing in natural elements and using seasonal ingredients. His creativity extends to the modern techniques and plating styles he likes to use. A highlight for me was the arrival of this miniature garden starter…
“We’re serving modern South African cuisine with definite influences from my travels abroad. There’s a good mix of seafood, vegetarian, vegan and meat courses and I’m determined to use only the best and most seasonal produce I can source”
– Dylan Laity
Further food highlights were the Spiced hake with garam masala, cashew nuts, chermoula, parsley, served with organic carrots. The Spingbok loin with semi-dried beetroot, blueberry, kale and turnip was also a treat.
Vegetarians are also well catered for with a delicious roasted cauliflower dish served with Hanepoort grapes, capers, mint and yeast as well as a Salt-baked turnip, trompette mushroom, nasturtium and hazelnut.
As someone with a serious sweet tooth, dessert is always a highlight and this one didn’t disappoint! Amarula and white chocolate mousse with feuillantine, green tea, coconut sorbet and lychee snow – this was a tropical delight that smelt like summer and tasted like heaven!
Coupled with chef Dylan’s modern South African menu and a lovely local wine list, The Restaurant @ The Nek looks set to become an essential must-visit on any foodies’ bucket list.
The Restaurant @ The Nek opens Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner.
Tel: +27 (21) 795 0688