I was recently invited to dine at Ember, an exciting new restaurant in the center of Stellenbosch headed up by Michael Broughton. The menu is inspired by cooking over fire with a pared-down offering that aims to hit perfection through simplicity and cooking technique. The flavours derived from cooking over coals are used as ingredients across all the savoury dishes on the menu which I found to be totally delicious.
The space is intimate and monochromatic with interesting lighting architecture. Dramatic downlights shine a spotlight on the starched napery and top-notch tableware creating a focus on the food and wine. As a person that hates a brightly lit restaurant, this felt heavenly and calming to me.
Their exclusively Stellenbosch wine list is very well curated by sommelier Rene Veldhuizen who imparts her knowledge and recommendations in the most friendly and professional way. This was an absolute highlight for us. Interesting wines that are stored correctly, decanted (if necessary), and poured into polished Riedel stemware elevates the dining experience to the next level.
The steak, which was perfectly cooked through an initial sous vide process, is presented in a coating of fine charcoal. Aesthetically I loved it and found the grass-fed boran beef which is sourced directly from the owner’s farm to be meltingly delicious. I’m not sure the charcoal added much to the eating experience though. The Parmesan & truffle chips were amongst the best chips I’ve encountered (although I had mine sans truffle).
This is what we ate on the night and you can find their current full menu here. The lunchtime menu is slightly simplified.
Fire-roasted prawn risotto
Wood-fired beef ribeye with a creamy mushroom and brandy sauce
Parmesan & truffle chips
New York-style cheesecake
I can highly recommend Ember and I will definitely be back.