Farmed cob with brocolli. Picture: Megan Baadjies
There is something about food and the memories it brings that makes us want to share it with others.

These foods are usually the simple, uncomplicated dishes you don’t really expect to find on hotel or restaurant menus.

The President Hotel’s executive chef, Phil Alcock, is changing that by taking guests on a nostalgic food journey with simple dishes served in fine dining style.

The hotel recently launched a winter menu which includes fancied-up old favourites sure to stir memories.

Marinated linefish.

“The way I designed the menu, I focused a lot on food that brings back memories,” he said at a recent preview dinner.

“Something like fish cakes, which I had on the streets of Thailand, or chicken satay in Singapore. These are very simple foods, but they have given me such a lot of wonderful memories. I can remember what I ate, where I’ve eaten it and what pleasure it gave me.”

“That’s what I want to do with all my memories of food that gave me pleasure, I want to pass them over to our guests.”

The first dish was simple, yet delicious Thai fish cakes with gyoza dipping sauce.

The golden brown fish cake was perfectly fried - it was firm and didn’t fall apart as I cut into it.

Next to it was spiced sesame chicken with satay sauce.

The chicken, which would have been dry on its own, worked well with the sauce.

The chicken and fish were served with pickled vegetables with ginger and chilli.

I could have done without the vegetables, but they went well with the chicken.

After a palate cleanser came marinated linefish and spiced cucumber.

Thai fish cakes

Guests had the pleasure of watching the chef prepare this apparently complicated yet simple dish. Those who enjoy sushi will love it.

The different flavours on the plate worked well together, but this wass perhaps not the kind of dish I would enjoy on a cold winter night.

The farmed cob with tender stem broccoli, grilled new potatoes and pea and mint veloute was warm, comforting and homely.

The chef allowed the cob to take centre stage and everything else subtly brought the dish to life.

In creating the new menu, Phil said he got feedback from the hotel guests on the dishes they enjoyed.

“When people look at the menu they will not be intimidated by what they see.”

Alcock said he tried to use only sustainable produce and to cook only fish on Sassi’s green list.

“I am looking at using local farmers and keeping everything sustainable.

“It does limit choices, but it makes you think a lot more about the fish in the ocean and you put a lot more effort into it. I want to showcase the fish we can use and the simplicity of putting food together.”