Setting the pace for fine dining in Stellenbosch.
The Stellenbosch restaurant scene is enjoying an explosive renaissance, with many exciting and unique eateries establishing themselves here in the heart of the Cape Winelands.
One such restaurant, DUSK, has been named the Best New Restaurant at the prestigious Eat Out Restaurant Awards in November 2022.
We recently met up with the brilliant creatives Callan Austin and Darren Badenhorst, masterminds behind DUSK and got to know them better.
Q: How did you feel when you heard your name announced as the best new restaurant?
We were beyond thrilled! To only have been open for 3 months and to be named the best new restaurant in the country is quite an achievement. That being said, it was something the entire team was working towards so I think we all felt a bit overwhelmed when we found out our hard work had paid off.
Q: What can a guest expect from a Dusk dining experience?
At Dusk, you dine. There’s really not much more to it actually. The dining room is pure opulence. An intimate setting with a dark palate, black marble walls highlighted with bronze and gold ornaments, tables dressed with white linen, and meticulously placed cutlery and glassware. There are no breath-taking views or even any windows in the restaurant that can distract you from the experience. Hanging above each table are these ominous pencil lights that block your surroundings out and really allow you to focus on what’s really important, the food and service.
Regarding the menu, an array of unique local ingredients such as snail caviar, Kalahari truffles and indigenous fynbos are really out into the spotlight. We put a lot of emphasis on supplier relations and believe in sharing their stories in parallel to ours to create a symbiotic environment. We’ve been experimenting with a lot of ferments and preservation methods that have yielded fascinating results. Garums, miso’s, soy sauces, fish sauces, lacto-ferments, blackened fruits and vegetables, proteins aged in beeswax, pickles and kombuchas are continuously featured throughout the menu. It’s something that’s got us really excited as the versatility around this style of cooking seems endless.
Our beverage offering is majority in favour of supporting local farms which truly makes us a proudly Stellenbosch establishment. Our Pandora’s Box pairing is, in my opinion, the most unique pairing in the country. With 11 non-descript boxes housing some of the country’s most exclusive and unique wines, guests are invited to select one at random not knowing what exactly may be inside. They could strike gold and pull the box that has the 1974 Delheim Pinotage or a box with a De Toren Fusion V inside.
Q: What’s the best dish you’ve ever made?
That’s a difficult question to answer as I love all the dishes on our menu. One of my personal favourites is the Abalone dish. The abalone has been braised in a Japanese master stock for several hours and is served with in-house smoked bacon, abalone off-cut XO sauce, grapefruit and smoked pork sabayon.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
At Dusk we are very much produce driven. I love connecting with suppliers on a more personal level as I believe it’s important that the food really highlights all their efforts.
Q: What’s your favourite local ingredient?
Once again a difficult question as there are so many incredible ingredients that I love to work with. However, the snail caviar is probably near the top of the list as it’s just too unique, plus it’s farmed less than 10km away from the restaurant by a really cool guy named Armand.
Q: How would you describe the current Stellenbosch restaurant scene? Where do you go to eat?
The food scene in Stellies has drastically changed and almost overnight too. In my opinion, Stellenbosch is where Franschhoek was 10 years ago and is on the cusp of exploding into a tourism and restaurant hub. Some fantastic restaurants have opened up recently and it’s been great to see how busy and well-received they’ve all been. Some of my personal favourites are Post and Pepper, Genki, Rykaarts and Stud the Burger Shop.
Q: What are your future plans for Dusk?
We’ve got a few ideas lined up, but a major goal of ours is to solidify our mental health program for the hospitality industry. We’ve been developing this program alongside local psychologists and are really excited to share our progress with everyone and anyone that needs help. Our goal is to make an accessible platform that affords anyone in the industry the opportunity to work on themselves with the hope to create a more sustainable industry that shifts the focus more onto the people than the product. We’re incredibly excited for 2023 and believe it’s going to be an amazing year for Dusk and everyone involved.
Where can you find them: 43 Plein Street, Stellenbosch
Get in touch: 021 023 4100 | email@example.com | www.duskrestaurant.co.za