If you’re looking for a vanilla fine-dining experience – inoffensive muzak, meek interiors, hushed whispers etc etc – steer clear of Ash! This edgy innercity eatery, which shares floor space with Publik Wine Bar in a prime address on Church Street, is the brainchild of supremely talented young chef Ash Heeger.
It opened in June 2016, to fitting and far-reaching fanfare, in a moody space just off the tourist grid that was already home to Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and Publik. Every inch of the space emanates cool – from the teal-and-black geometric-tiled open kitchen and marble table tops to the midcentury-modern-style chairs, and even the music: a delicious mix of old-school hip-hop, up-to-the-minute rap, grunge, punk, ska and indie.
Ash cut her teeth in the kitchens of La Colombe and The Test Kitchen and, despite her 27 years, she is a force to be reckoned with. It takes a certain amount of gravitas to conceive of, launch, and run a successful restaurant in a city like Cape Town, where diners are more fickle than school girls, and new restaurants open at the drop of a cloche.
She’s always been a champion of the nose-to-tail movement, with charcoal cooking her medium of choice: “We cook pretty much everything over coals or in ash,” she explains. “Our ethos is minimal-intervention food, with a focus on seasonality, and sourcing sustainable, ethical and local produce,” she adds. Unsurprisingly, a glistening Josper Grill taking pride of place in her meticulous open kitchen.
“I try not to take myself too seriously,” laughs Ash, “and I hope this shows in our food. My style is quite laid back, a little whimsical sometimes… most times.”
But, for those who’ve eaten at Ash recently, you’ll agree that whimsy is just a fraction of this beautiful equation. Her playfulness is perfectly offset by an acute attention to detail that underpins everything she produces, resulting in a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Summer 2017/18 Menu
Her new menu – which launches on Monday, 16 October – is testament to this precise-yet-playful style. “Some dishes are a little too out there; some are instant hits,” says Ash about coming up with new menu items. “I basically just throw new dishes out there, get some feedback, and go from there,” she laughs, “Some dishes stay on the idea board for months on end, until I manage to format them in a way that makes our guests say: ‘We have got to order that, it sounds delicious’.”
Ash’s new menu is scorching. Check it out here.