Ingenious food, superb service and luxurious surroundings are the hallmarks of Emily’s Restaurant at Emily Moon river lodge in Plettenberg Bay, says Petro Lotz.
It’s rare to see people queuing and willing to wait for seats at a restaurant outside the main city central, but Emily Moon is such a place. To experience fine dining at this level is a wonderful surprise – diners begin to plan their return as soon as the first plate arrives. The menu changes every night, although some of the favourites remain.
A walk on the grounds of the Emily Moon river lodge will take you to their vegetable and herb garden, bringing home the fact that freshness and purity are high on the agenda here. Throw in a mixture of ingenuity and talent and the result is fusion dishes such as pork belly and prawn skewers with papaya salsa and, under mains, a perfectly trimmed rack of lamb on an artichoke tartlet, served with the most incredible beetroot purée and caramelised shallot – all on beautiful crockery.
For dessert, the lemon tart with condensed milk ice cream or the chocolate fondant with vanilla pod ice cream is sure to leave you happy, content and ready for bed. The breakfast should also be mentioned: they offer the full monty, but don’t miss out on the mini Cornish pies and the wonderful banana bread endowed with seeds and nuts.
The wine list is unusual and interesting, featuring boutique wineries throughout South Africa. The cocktail menu offers great, handpicked choices to linger over while you take in the views over the valley and the meandering river below.
Service is shared by everyone on duty and it’s not unusual to see the manager serving food as often as any of the waiters. Your every whim will be looked after. It’s a bit like visiting someone at home: extremely comfortable and chatty. At the same time, the approach is really professional and unobtrusive.
It’s a fusion of cultures; Africa meats the East in this luxurious restaurant full of interesting detail. Expect an incredibly tactile experience with lots of candlelight, a fire in winter and personal attention to guests’ needs. It’s a romantic venue that will make you want to stay forever.
If at all possible, stay over at the lodge in order to fully appreciate this amazing dining experience and the beautiful view.