Last week I was invited to experience the culinary mastery of award-winning chef Luke Dale Roberts at his newest dining concept, SALON.
SALON, situated in the heart of Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill, is a culinary destination defined by elegant décor, elevated dining and an enthralling cocktail collection.
“From the start I wanted the feel of this new restaurant to draw on the concept of a traditional European salon” – Luke dale Roberts
Diners arrive at SALON through a bright golden portal, a striking entrance into a more traditional salon space of Victorian-style floors and classical marble-topped bistro tables.
Golden domes and Art-Deco patterning soften the square dimensions of the room, while Venetian plasterwork and vintage-style filament lamps bring both texture and warmth.
“Dale Roberts felt it was important that SALON was broken up into various areas, and so we created a general seating area backed by an elegant bar and banquettes, while intimate dining spaces feature just behind a series of arches,” explains designer Maurice Paliaga, who has created spaces for thoughtful conversation and edible adventure.
“On the Journey menu, I’ve taken each country that I’ve worked in and created a signature dish from that country’s culinary heritage. I really wanted this menu to be small, focused and interactive. I want people to come along on a voyage that really shows my evolution and influences as a chef.” Luke dale Roberts
Pork Scratching served with a Guinness foam
My six-course Journey menu (the actual Journey menu is nine courses, but was tweaked for the media event I attended) began with Pork Scratchings served with a Guinness foam. In true Dale Roberts style, this apparently simple plate offered layers of texture and flavour.
Next up was an inventive take on the classic Sunday Roast, celebrating the chef’s English roots. The wagyu sirloin was cooked to perfection and served with tarragon pesto, red onion and horseradish. The wagyu was accompanied by the lightest and tastiest profiterole I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating!
Inspired by France, the Forest Noir plate was a delight. A delectable shortbread made with Vanilla and parmesan held a foie gras and sour plum jelly inside.
It was served with a teeny tiny half loaf of sweet bread.
It was Dale Roberts’ time in Asia that inspired the fragrant Singapore chilli and Korean beef “kalbi”.
The Singapore chilli was my favourite dish. A single, sweetly succulent langoustine was paired with scallop mousse, chili sauce, smoked tomato jelly and a turnip and cashew puree.
The Beef “Kalbi” was another taste sensation. Tender beef fillet was served with chestnut and shiitake rice – over which a mirin tea was poured – and two dipping sauces: a flavourful ssamjang and a ponzu. There was also a kimchi that bought all the flavours together so beautifully.
The dessert, inspired by a traditional South African favourite, was a highlight. We finished off our culinary journey with malva pudding topped with amasi ice cream and a dehydrated pear. The “Ultramel” inspired custard was something to behold! Yes, it had those typical flavours most South African’s hold in our childhood food memories, but was way more subtle and soooooo delish.
“The Journey menu is a real snapshot of my life as a chef. It takes my decades of travelling, tasting and cooking in some incredible kitchens around the world, and condenses it all into a nine-course exploration of all the wonderful flavours and dishes I’ve encountered along the way.” – Luke Dale Roberts
The Journey menu is priced at R1100 per person, with a condensed version of four courses – The Explorer – available at R550 per person – FANTASTIC value for money. These menus are also available as a pairing menu with dishes matched to one of the small-batch wines, beers and saké. Or, choose signature cocktails from SALON’s carefully curated drinks collection.
SALON is primed to be Cape Town’s most exciting new destination for gastronomic discovery, where the interplay of flavour, style and aesthetic spark lively conversation amid a brave new culinary adventure. It’s a salon of fine food and fabulous company and a bold new chapter for one of South Africa’s most celebrated restaurateurs.
SALON is open from Tuesdays through Saturdays, and guests can reserve their “Journey” or “Explorer” time slots between 6pm and 9pm. 1st Floor silo building, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.
For bookings and more information visit: www.salonct.co.za or call 087 093 5890 during normal business hours.