Restaurant review: A little love affair with Dalliance, V&A Waterfront

It’s not often that a bathroom break leads to a great, yet unexpected restaurant discovery but such was the case when we stumbled across Dalliance, whilst strolling about the ever-buzzing V&A Waterfront on a beautiful Saturday morning in September.

Dalliance is tucked away in one of the quieter, labyrinthine passageways of the V&A Waterfront and as such, it’s probably one of the best-kept foodie secrets there at the moment – though it is, in addition, relatively new too.

What struck us instantly as we walked past was that there, amidst boutique stores and clothing shops like Adidas, was this cosy, little restaurant with the most breath-taking, elevated views open out across Atlantic Ocean outside.

We made a mental note to return here for a coffee and, after a quick but fun stop at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market (ever a favourite of mine; you can read my Market Review of it here), that is precisely what we did.

Though small, Dalliance does not have a stuffy feeling to it like some of the smaller (in size, not in quality, that is) Cape Town eateries can. In fact, I was surprised to find it was even bigger than I initially imagined when peering in from the entrance.

Once inside, we made a determined beeline for the sea-facing tables and managed to find a secluded, good one in the corner. The views, as we had earlier glimpsed, were most impressive and especially on such a clear day, it made for a glorious sight indeed.

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The décor – described by Dalliance themselves as a blend of “duck egg blue, copper and wood” – is nautical chic with its porthole mirrors (tastefully decorated by red roses in an attached glass vases), contrasting brick walls, wooden table tops and comfy chairs, some of which (like ours) are leather-backed.

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Dalliance is not overly conducive to natural lighting, despite the sea-facing wall of windows at one end but it is well-lit by spotlights and cage-like light hangings.

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They have made great use of their space, with seating offered at stand-alone tables or else, set up against the walls or at the bar/open kitchen. (I enjoyed briefly watching the chefs in action as we later settled our bill by the front till.)

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Something else I really liked was the crockery. It alternates between mud-brown and cream coloured earthenware plating and coffee cups to the unexpected silver pots our Butter Chicken Curry was later served in.

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The menus are basically designed (and in the case of the drinks menu, mounted on a wooden board) with neat, clear font allowing for quick, easy reading and the prices, which range between R40-140 are moderate to slightly pricy, depending on what you order.

Our decision to just order a coffee quickly morphed into a light lunch instead and as our waiter so usefully explained to us, meals at Dalliance are not huge – so if you’re starving with hunger, it’s not likely to be your first port of call. However, the food is extremely tasty and if you do decide to share (they even have a special ‘Plates to Share’ option on the main menu), as we did, they are more than satisfying and filling enough for a light breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The menu is quite varied with options like seafood, meats (including contrasting choices and cuisine types such as adorable, gourmet Beef Sliders or Butter Chicken served with soft, warm Naan bread), vegetarian options (they also say they offer kosher- and halaal-friendly meal options too), sweets (such as Crème Caramel or the more exotic Coconut Vanilla Rice Pudding).

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There are also a host of drinks options to enjoy, including champagne, Methode Cap Classique and fine wines from top local estates such as Glen Carlou, Warwick Estate and Haute Cabriere to name a few, (note: the wine list is a bit on the pricy side, I thought) – as well as a separate craft beer and cocktail menu. This includes vegetarian-friendly options like Red Berry Lassi (R45), the delicious sounding Kir Royal (R85) and then some apple cider, lager and golden ale options for the beer lovers.

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After a yummy, complimentary biscuit with our great cappuccinos (R28 each so slightly above the usual pricing for a ‘cappu’ but I must say, these were particularly good and we didn’t mind the price. Please note: hot beverages are not listed on the menu so enquire in advance if this could be a concern to you). We both effortlessly awarded the coffee an 8/10 rating and afterwards, we ordered a Butter Chicken Curry (R65) with two pieces of delicious, fluffy naan bread with, and the scrumptious Beef Slider (also R65) with pickles and frizzled onions.

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Both meals were extremely tasty and the Butter Chicken + Naan bread combo literally melted in my mouth. It was one of the nicest Butter Chicken curries – or curries in general – I have ever had and I’m a huge fan of spicy/hot foods so I eat these things more often than most. Still, even my partner seemed to really enjoy it and the Naan bread comes in very handy for soaking up the thick, creamy butter chicken gravy. (You don’t get rice with so this is definitely the idea.)

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I’ve also been dying to try a slider for ages, ever since watching American cooking shows on DStv’s Food Network channel and I must say, this was the right place to start with one. The burgers were almost too cute to eat but after my standard food photography sessions, we were both tucking into our slider(s) with relish and got a few, great bites out of them. The patty was also cooked perfectly on fresh, little buns, and both meals were brought to the table nice and hot without being scald-your-mouth worthy.

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We gave both meals an 8/10 rating and were definitely satisfied with both these and our coffee orders.

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I must also commend the staff, especially our charming waiter, who advised us on what and how to order and who was both attentive and efficient without being obtrusive or overbearing during our enjoyable visit.

The vibe of Dalliance is one that’s quiet and soothing, with jazzy music playing in the background, adding to the overall atmosphere and the chatter of nearby conversation. It also has a kind of exclusive feel to it, allowing you to feel almost removed from your surroundings and spend a few pleasant moments sitting close to someone you love or just generally catching up over a great meal in a pleasant eat-out ambiance.

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To me, this is all you can really ask for at any eatery and for all of the above, Dalliance gets a firm 9/10 overall rating as there really is little, if anything, to fault about the place – though I have taken the portion sizes for cost into consideration all the same.

I think we both had an amazing time (and joint meal) there and left feeling very satisfied indeed… so while that may have been my first visit to Dalliance, it will certainly not be my last, for as their logo says, “a little love affair” has begun…

For more information, please contact them on +27 (021) 418 1037 or email them at: info@dalliancerestaurant.co.za.

You can also find and follow them on social media, check out their website or visit them at Shop No. 7216, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. They are open Monday to Sunday, 11:00am – 23:00pm.

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