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Reviewer: Mac

Reviewed on the: 26/09/2008 13:47:05

Overall Rating: 90%
Value for Money
Transport and Location
Overall Experience
Eating at Emily's was one of those experiences that I will never forget. It wasn't just the exceptional food, or the monumental wine list. It was the whole experience. We went there on a Friday afternoon, lunch time, but unfortunately they were short staffed due to some transport disruptions. So instead of doing the review then, we sat on their couches, drank some coffee and chatted. And can these people talk! I think some of the instant rapport came from the fact that Johan (the chef) had spent a few years being chef to the South African ambassador to Norway in Oslo. My dining partner, being Norwegian, was obviously enjoying his stories as he was hers. I knew the scene was set for a truly exceptional meal.
We arrived at Emily's at around six o clock, and were lucky enough to spend some time on their outside balcony before it got cold. We were left with a taste of the mid-summer atmosphere, looking over the working harbour/tourist attraction that is the V&A Waterfront. Of course the atmosphere inside was warm and friendly.
Emily's has a slightly nautical feel about it, this was obviously more apparent since Peter pointed it out. Moreover it has a distinctly African feel about it, which is not too surprising. A nice surprise is that the chairs are actually really comfortable, you'll notice plain wooden backs, which in general are not my favourite, but these ones...
Emily's is slightly expensive by South African standards (internationally it's a bargain, like all of South Africa), but it's certainly not a rip off, you pay for what you get and that's good service and outstanding food.
Emily's has numerous awards including: Top 10 awards, The Tony Jackman Choice award, three years in a row of Wine Magazine awards, Diners club International winner of platinum and the rare Diamond awards for 2000 and 2001, BBC award winner and New York Times accolade recipient.
They received yet another international award this year in Spain, which I can't for the life of me remember, however ask Johan or Peter about it and I’m sure they will not only tell you about it, but also a genuinely entertaining story about Peter managing to get on the plane with a dangerously sharp six kilogram award, and Johan getting stopped for having a potentially lethal cake pan.
Obviously these awards stem from the food that they serve, and what food that is!! At first glance the menu looks slightly scant, with never more than eight items on it, once you realise that this menu changes constantly according to availability of fresh ingredients, season and the whim of the chef, you will realise just why this restaurant has been open so long. Served with precision presentation, that's easy to forget once you actually start eating, the food is certainly something to write home about (or at least on a website).
I ate some quail with date and bacon, which was gone way too quickly for my liking. However I was tempted by the gemsbok, the sirloin and the chicken, thankfully my dining partner ordered the sirloin and I was at least able to taste that masterpiece as well.
One thing that can't go unmentioned about Emily's is the fact that it is also billed as a wine bar. With very good reason. Peter is obviously passionate about his wines, and this show's in the selection of purely local wines that is on offer, all hand picked. Although I must say that having to go to wine farms to do wine tasting certainly doesn't seem like a chore for Peter.
Sadly I must make one slightly negative remark about this truly delightful establishment, and that is Josh Groban. Not that I mind his music, and I know that my co-reviewer enjoys and often listens to it (I've learned to enjoy it through osmosis), it's just that I heard it twice in the same evening, and for me that is a little much of Josh. Other than that Josh did fit in well with the vibe of the restaurant and there was some good classical music being played as well.
The location, as is mentioned both earlier in this review and in the initial listing, is great! With an outside balcony looking over the Waterfront, it is really something special.
Overall, this has been one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten in, and above that I like to think that we made some friends here. The food was good, the wine list impressive, the atmosphere was comfortable and friendly, there is nothing that this restaurant lacks, and I’m sure that it will be an icon for South African restaurants well into the future.

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