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    Sep 2013 · Sarah Duff

    The rather unglitzy location of the underground level of a shopping mall in suburban Dunkeld West belies the superb gastronomic...

    The rather unglitzy location of the underground level of a shopping mall in suburban Dunkeld West belies the superb gastronomic experience that awaits you at DW Eleven-13. Voted one of South Africa’s top 10 restaurants, DW Eleven-13 has been a favourite on the Joburg food scene since it opened in 2009 for its consistently excellent menu of exquisitely prepared, creative food influenced by Mediterranean and Asian flavours.

    Each dish on the compact, constantly changing menu is a delight, with contrasting textures and flavours and imaginative combinations of ingredients and culinary styles. Take the richness of thick slices of curry oil-infused salmon sashimi and sour cream counterbalanced with the sweet-sour tartness of pickled apple and cucumber “spaghetti” and the crunch of oat “soil”, or the gourmet twist on the classic roast of grass-fed beef fillet, roasted bone marrow, turnip purée, rosemary dauphinoise potatoes, red wine jus and rosemary foam. Even more simple dishes, such as a humble tomato soup, are lifted to the heights of culinary perfection with basil espume, and an eight-year old balsamic and cider sauce.

    Chef and owner Marthinus Ferreira earned his stripes working in some of the world’s best restaurants, including the Fat Duck in the UK and La Colombe in Cape Town, and shows the influence of mentor Heston Blumenthal’s fun “out of the box” approach to food with elements such as what looks like quails’ eggs turns out to be sour cream spheres that burst on contact.

    Desserts are delicious and interesting in equal measures – think deconstructed delights such as mandarin tart with naartjie meringue, almond crumbs, blood orange ice cream, star anise gel and the regulars’ favourite: a version of chocolate-banana split that combines valrhona ganache with coconut sorbet, banana ice cream, chocolate banana soil, milk tart (a traditional egg custard South African pudding) macaroons and salted peanut caramel sauce.

    Even the extras are special enough to be a highlight, from an amuse bouche of salmon tare tare with lemon jelly, beetroot sorbet and micro greens, a palate cleanser of a sphere of warm minted green tea jelly to the chocolate petits fours and whiskey gums served after dessert.

    The excellent wine list has a great selection of South African wines, as well as international new and old world varietals, many of them offered by the glass. If you’re unsure of what wines to order, opt for the multi-course menu of the day with wine pairing, or ask the friendly sommelier.

    With its low ceilings and dark minimalist furniture, DW Eleven-13 is sophisticated without being showy, and classy without being stuffy – an ambience which is complemented by the excellent service. Waiters are incredibly attentive (it’s the kind of place where your wine glass is topped up before you even realise it was empty) and impressively knowledgeable about the food and wine.

    Whatever way you look at it, DW Eleven-13 deserves its coveted spot as one of the top restaurants in the country.

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