Firefly Eating House

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Reviewed by Charlotte Pregnolato

Well known and loved for its spicy cuisine, the Firefly Eating House in Knysna has become an institution among locals and travellers passing through. Charlotte Pregnolato paid them a visit.

The food
Firefly’s inventive spirit is evident in the ever-changing menu, which is based on the seasons and influenced by the whims of the owners and chefs Dell and Sancha Hadlow. The eatery is known for beautiful plating, which incorporates natural elements and whimsical details to enhance the experience of the meal.

A great variety of spices wait to be discovered in, for example, the tapas-like menu of small dishes or ‘firestarters’. Guests are invited to choose several dishes (3-4 per person) and share. Perennial starter stars include the Cape Malay bobotie spring rolls served with mint chutney, the ginger chicken skewers with sweet chilli sauce, and the potato samoosas. You’ll also find a daily spice cup and curry cup, which are tasting portions of curries.

The spring rolls were crisp and tasty; however, the fish parcels in banana leaves with a lime dressing were a bit nondescript in flavour and texture. The restaurant also needs to take a look at some technical issues, particularly dishes that arrive cold and in some cases slightly soggy. These detract from what could be a great experience – as exemplified by the sorbet and ice creams du jour, which feature seasonal flavours and are perfectly delicious.

The drinks
The wine list is well set out and the wines are nicely described, but the mark-up is a little on the steep side. (Note that this is a strictly no-BYO establishment.) Cast your eyes towards the cocktail menu – there’s always a cocktail of the day (alcoholic or not) on offer – and you are encouraged to try something from the gin bar to broaden your perception of this grain-based spirit and its notes of herbs, spices and juniper berries.

The service
Staff are helpful and knowledgeable and the service well paced.

The ambience
Firefly-red walls, warmed with fairy lights and quirky touches throughout, make for an exotic and romantic atmosphere. During warm weather, guests can look forward to al fresco dining.

Don’t leave without enjoying one of the homemade chai teas from their chai bar. Brewed with fresh ingredients like fennel, jasmine, mint, lemon grass, ginger and chamomile, these wonderfully fragrant treats offer a perfect finish to a spicy meal.

The verdict
Firefly is a charming setting for cocktails and a nibble, but can turn out to be somewhat disappointing and pricey for hungry diners expecting a full dinner.

(May 2014)
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