by Sarah Keevy

Dining at Dutch East

Franschhoek's little gem

Dutch East Restaurant
Dutch East Restaurant
When in doubt about where to go out for a meal, locals always have the best advice. On our way to Franschhoek, my partner and I realised we hadn’t thought of our dinner plans. I turned to a friend for inspiration, and while he isn’t quite a local, he has spent a lot of time in Franschhoek. He pointed us to Dutch East on the main road (Huguenot Road) and I felt compelled later in the evening after a fine bottle of wine and repast to thank him for his brilliant advice.

Dutch East is in the centre of Franschhoek, easy walking distance from nearly anywhere in town, including the guesthouse we called home for the night. The high, high ceiling and candle-lit interior felt grand as we walked in, but there is something very comforting and at-home about Dutch East. The hostess and waiters were so friendly and in no time had us settled with the wine list at a cosy table.

Without realising our luck when we booked, Dutch East has a great winter special: a three-course meal for only R130. The choices for the special menu had me salivating as I read them – fish cakes, pork noodle stir-fry, grilled sirloin, roasted marrow lasagne, home-made apple pie … and that wasn’t the half of it. Imagine the difficulty I had when I opened the main menu, only to find more sumptuous items listed: smoked kudu Carpaccio, herb-crusted Franschhoek trout, braised duck, garam masala prawns and kingklip in green masala coconut tom yum!

Dutch East’s philosophy is to serve hearty, traditional food, but with an Asian twist to many of the dishes (hence the stir-fries, rich spices and marinades). I finally settled on the winter special while my partner couldn’t resist the main menu. The flavours of each dish were wonderful and one of the stand-out courses was the fish cake starter. The tender fish cake is not made with potato, so is much lighter than usual, and served in a parsley and Parmesan cream with an apple salad. The main course that took the cake was Italian sausage served with Parmesan polenta, roasted tomatoes and crispy pancetta in an onion jus. This was comfort food at its best. We ended our meal by sharing a Pink Lady apple crumble, served with really tasty custard. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Besides our wonderful meal, dining at Dutch East was wonderful because of the level of service. Samuel our waiter was so welcoming and always ready to laugh with us. We could also see into the kitchen (it’s semi-open) and the chef and his staff were cheerful and really appreciative of our thanks at the end of the night.

I may not be a local, but I think everyone should take my advice and, when in Franschhoek, head to Dutch East for a meal you’ll never forget!
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