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Vasco’s Restaurant

Note: please forgive the slightly blurry quality of the images – I took my proper camera with the night we had dinner, and it just wouldn’t work, despite the battery being charged.  I had to use my phone camera, which isn’t as good.

On Wednesday 24th of May, we had the privilege of attending a dinner at the new restaurant at the Hilton Hotel, that opened at the end of April.

Vasco’s (named for Vasco da Gama, who introduced us to the spices of the East) has replaced the old Hilton Hotel restaurant, the Rainbow Terrace, yet is not just any ‘hotel restaurant’ – it is seen as it’s own entity, a stand alone restaurant where hotel guests and outside guests mingle alike.

The decor is very contemporary-chic, with a large focus on local in the design.  You can see that they’ve used both Africa and India in the decor inspiration, in the gorgeous colours used, and the mountain range inspired wall art.  Even the light fixtures imitate the chunky wooden bangles that African woman wear.

The staff are exceptionally friendly and helpful, and we had a nice long chat with both the executive chef, Cleo Govender and the Hilton’s food and beverage manager Cameron Townend.

Vasco’s is also one of the only restaurants to have an electric Tandoori oven, and this provides authentic food as well as an entertainment value, as you can watch food being cooked in the oven while perusing the rest of the buffet foods available.

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One can find delicious breakfasts and dinners at Vasco’s, both buffet and a la carte, and they do occasionally open for lunch.  They have two ‘themed’ evenings – Off The Hook, a seafood buffet on a Friday evening at R350pp, and Flavours Of The East, a curry buffet on a Saturday evening at R275pp.  The regular buffet cost is R310pp and the buffet is open from 6:30pm-10:30pm.  They can also host functions on their terrace, which has a gorgeous view and a very Sandton-esque feel to it.

Although we were going to eat buffet-style (my favourite – you can take exactly what you like, or just try and taste everything! Note – I could honestly not fit everything in, and I’m going to have to go back to taste the rest.. yum), we did have a quick look at the a la carte menu, and the meals looked amazing.  Chef Cleo’s South African Eggs Benedict (regular eggs benedict, with added sauteed spinach, chakalaka and boerewors make this sound delightful) and the Murgh Makhani Pizza (pulled Butter Chicken, mozzarella, coriander and crispy onion on a pizza – um.. yes please!) both shouted out to me.  I might have to go back for that pizza alone!  They also have a really decent wine list, with a nice variety of wines for all flavour palettes and price ranges.  We sipped on the Ernie Els Big Easy 2016 Red Blend and it was sublime.

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And then we headed up to check out the buffet and what was on offer – and boy did I have a hard time making a decision.  On offer at the Salad and Starter section was a stunning make-your-own-salad bar, with every topping and goodie you could imagine.  Bright, colourful and I grabbed a few thing to make myself feel healthier about the fact I KNEW I’d be grabbing some naan bread later on.  There was also cured meats, cured and smoked fish, two different noodle/pasta salads, a tabbouleh salad, beetroot salad, a tomato, fennel and baked fish salad, the BEST potato salad I’ve eaten, with sesame seeds and mustard, corn fritters, sticky pork ribs, a creamy broccoli soup and an assortment of breads with butter.

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I tried some of the salad goodies, a potato salad, a corn fritter, some smoked salmon, some olives and pickled onions and the beef and sweet chilli noodle salad.  All were delicious and my plate was wiped clean very quickly.

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Next up – the Hot and Main section.  They have a hot top grill that has a 6 day rotation of meals, which vary between things like braai/grill meet, a carvery, a chow mein station or a pasta station.  They had the chow mein station and pasta station open, and I was so tempted to go with some beef chow mein with noodles and veggies and lots of soy sauce (oh gosh I love soy sauce!) but I figured I’d go back for it.  I didn’t.  I’m so sad and I’ll have to go back for that!  They also had the beautiful Tandoori oven going, with naan breads being constantly baked (garlic/sesame/butter varieties) and were producing some gorgeous Tandoori fish and chicken.  There was also a butter chicken curry, mutton curry and a broad bean curry, as well as a veggie casserole, a paella with chorizo and white wine, steamed green veg, baby potatoes and basmati rice, along with various toppings and chillies.

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I went with the naan, some butter chicken, a bit of the Tandoori chicken and the Tandoori fish, and some of the gorgeous looking paella.  I also grabbed some of the whole chillies, as N’s plate was too full for them!  I won’t lie, I figured I’d go back for the chow mein and some of the mutton curry, but I just knew I wouldn’t have space for dessert then.  It didn’t stop me having another piece of naan though!

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The Dessert section consisted of a lovely board of local cheeses with crackers and bread, as well as red velvet cake, fruit salad, brownies, trifles, mini pavlovas, mini fruit tarts, mini pecan tarts and a hot chocolate pudding with custard.

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I was so sad – I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit much more in my full tum, so I went for a thin sliver of the red velvet cake and a brownie.  But were utterly divine, the best red velvet cake I’ve eaten!  I only regret not trying out the hot chocolate pudding and the pecan tarts, but hey – I will be back for those!

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Do you see anything here you’re keen on trying?  Give Vasco’s a shout and book a table – it’s the ideal spot for a family celebration, or even just a nice dinner out with your other half!