For the main event, we got to know the braai, Haddad and Anthony’s stateside take on the traditional South African grill. Locally sourced hickory and oak create a rousing open flame, infusing anything cooked on it with a woody depth of flavor. We opted for a surf ‘n’ turf of sorts: prime bonein ribeye and a whole branzino (Mediterranean sea bass). The steak, aged for 35 days, was perfectly marbled, umamiladen and so tender a fork was all that was needed to build the perfect bite. Dipped in the chef ’s silky bordelaise or rich béarnaise, it was heaven. As much as I relished the aforementioned dishes, the real star of the meal was the exquisitely prepared branzino. It comes whole (though you can opt to have it filleted), stuffed with fragrant rosemary and juicy lemon and grilled on the braai. The result is a charred crust of skin (like a deliciously salty chip), surrounding succulent, sweet, flaky flesh. Decadent gratin Dauphinoise, toothsome roasted wild mushrooms and expertly prepared pommes frites (the chef hails from Belgium, after all), rounded out the meal and beautifully showcased Haddad’s considerable skill. Thanks to a genius – and simple – wine program style (one which I can’t help but wish other restaurants of this caliber would adopt), Cape Dutch ensures you won’t have to wait long for each dish’s appropriate pairing. The dining room features a wine table so that servers can recommend, pour and deliver a glass in record time – without waiting 126
for the busy bartenders to accommodate. The list itself is a treasure as well. You’ll find some delicious South African wines here (including one from Ken Forrester’s Stellenbosch vineyard, which helped inspire the concept for the restaurant), in addition to stand-outs from around the world. If you’re celebrating something – or just want to spring for a really special bottle – a selection of rare and extra-large bottles are available (Schrader “Old Sparky” 2013 Magnum for $1,500, anyone?). Not only is Cape Dutch a culinary tour de force, it’s a feast for the eyes as well. The former Woodfire Grill space has been gorgeously transformed by Anthony’s interior designer wife, Kelly (of Anthony | Wolf ), so that it feels at once fresh, comfortable and established. Rich, worn leather, rough-hewn wood plank floors and oversized glass globes lit with Edison light bulbs give the nearly 7,000-square-foot interior coziness in spades. There’s a touch of whimsy too – like the canvas painted in bold black letters, “Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give A Damn.” Overall, the space and the menu feels, to employ a perhaps overused term, global. There are influences from Haddad’s native Belgium, France, Asia and the Mediterranean and of course, Anthony’s South African home. Regardless of which region of the world speaks to you, I can almost guarantee that a meal at Cape Dutch will make your taste buds – and quite possibly, your spirit – sing.
Visit Cape Dutch at 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road NE, Atlanta. 404/343-0313. capedutchrestaurant.com www.southernSeasons.net