Having never been to Emmanuels before, I was pleasantly surprised from the moment I got out my car. The security guards hearty welcome made for a great start to the evening, and was echoed by the superb service from all the staff for the rest of the night. In the blink of an eyelid we were greeted and seated at a table in a cosy alcove looking out onto the garden. The staggering array of glassware and cutlery at each place setting could be quite mind boggling when compared to the rather functional table layouts experienced at other restaurants around town. With drinks ordered and with menu decisions made (easy in Restaurant week due to set menus :), but not so easy normally), we settled in for the much anticipated culinary fireworks... AND oh boy did Emmanuels deliver.
First up as an "amuse bouche" was a delightful sliver of beef wellington courtesy of the Chef. Now regular followers may remember my unhappiness with Alo Alo's interpretation, but this one was absolutely spot on. That tiny morsel was tender, tasty and made all at the table wish it was a full sized portion. As a follow up, there was a choice of Roasted Butternut soup, Kariba Crayfish Salad and Oxtail Ravioli in a light broth. All present agreed that the starters were beautifully presented and very tasty. If I had to make any criticisms and I am loathe to do so, the salad could have used a few extra crayfish, but perhaps I am only saying that because it left us wanting more.
Its hard to believe that the main dishes that were on offer are not on Emmanuels normal menu. I gladly would go back for any of the Restaurant Week specials, with the choices including of a Mediterranean style chicken breast, Slow cooked Lamb, Wild mushroom Risotto or Tilapia stuffed with a Salmon Mousse. My personal favourite was definitely the delicate, oh so flavourful Tilapia, but I cannot say that any of the dishes disappointed.The risotto and chicken were both truly tasty dishes and the lamb had the most vocal of our group silent in appreciation (ok actually he was licking the plate clean). The accompanying vegetables were all cooked and seasoned well and along with the plentiful homemade breads on offer ensured that there was no hungry diners left at our table. I actually think that "home-made" bread offered is one of the best tasting I have had at any restuarant anywhere in Southern Africa
Dessert is surely THE most anticipated course of any meal, and when deciding the menu for HRW, I am sure the Chef knew exactly which dish he was going to serve most of. The most popular dessert choice was the 3 tier chocolate terrine, a rich composition of dark, milk and white chocolate. Again the glutton in me bellowed for a bigger portion, but in all honesty, after such a feast, I know it was the perfect size. Other desserts which looked amazing, and by the contented sighs tasted just as good, were a Creme Brulee or Caramalised Bananas with Baileys Ice cream........ (OH NO, I am drooling just remembering all of it).Coffees all round to end the evening and our Fabulous Fifteen were sent home happy.
I managed to get hold of the normal menu for the restaurant and I will admit here and now that I am impressed. I truly believed that Emmanuels were priced well above what I would pay for just a meal out unless it was a special occasion. With Main courses ranging between $18 and $29, you really should have them as a frontline option when wanting to go out for a meal. Given that Alo Alo is similarly priced and that in my opinion nowhere near Emmanuels in terms of flavour, I have no doubts in awarding Emmanuels and HRW in general a huge Belly of the Beast Roar of appreciation.
And now I am off. I have to count how many days it is until next years Restaurant week so that I can see how many Kgs I need to lose before then.... Until next time ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!