I am a diehard fan of a tasting menu – where you can enjoy a collection of small portions as a main meal. So, when I heard that the latest foodie spot, Embarc Restaurant offered the option of ordering your choice of main dishes as starter portions, I decided that this was an establishment that I had to try out. And the food certainly didn’t disappoint.
The menu showcases top dishes that are made from top-quality ingredients, which are exciting, without being whimsical, discerning without being pretentious. A few of the menu’s standouts include the Sesame Crusted Tataki with Pickled Red Onion, Exotic Mushroom Tortellini with Black Garlic, Beurre Noisette & Parsnip Crisps; Parmigiana Reggiano Risotto with a showcase of Onion Textures, Truffle & Pine Nut; Kataifi Prawns with an aerated Tom Yum Cream & Toasted Coconut; Smoked Salmon Mousse, Zucchini and the Pork Belly, Polenta, Smoked Butternut, Mustard & Fig.
And of course, let’s not forget the Triple Cooked Fries with Truffle Zest, Truffle Mayo and Parmigiano Reggiano, which is one of the most delicious comfort eats I have ever indulged in. The dessert menu kept the good times rolling – we ordered the Baked White Chocolate Créme, Lavender, Shortbread, Tonka Bean & Honeycomb; along with Sandy’s Choccie Meringue, Kahlua Mascarpone, Citrus & Brandy Snap.
Embarc was opened by talent-factory duo: Lisa De Beer and Darren O’Donovan. Their combined resume is impressive, featuring working experience at notable establishments such as Cube Tasting Kitchen, LBV, Aurum and Est Est Alea. Lisa is also a qualified Sommelier, ensuring that Embarc’s wine menu is as appealing as the cuisine on offer. The pièce de resistance was including Mitchel Du Plessis as Embarc’s chef de cuisine, who also wears the hat as head chef for day-to-day operations.
Where did the inspiration to open Embarc come from? “Darren and I left Cube to travel Europe for a few months where we picked up on culinary trends and different local food and wine knowledge. In between a lot of street food and pasta, which we ate in order to save money, we were privileged enough to eat in many Michelin Star restaurants. This gave us a real understanding of the high standards of the international restaurant industry, and we also picked up on some of the notable techniques used by these establishments. Our eyes were opened to many fascinating and inspirational combinations and we were eager to bring these home to SA,” explains Lisa.
Located on the vibey Parkhurst strip, Embarc is a great place to watch the sun set over Victory Park and Linden, while observing the many passers-by. The décor is modern, airy and clean-lined, which was deliberately chosen so that the food can take centre stage. “We opted for a more Scandinavian-inspired style of decor, with a focus on minimalism, neutral tones and fairly simple décor. As two young restaurant owners who did not have deep pockets from investors or multiple other ventures, this approach worked for our budget too. Instead of buying expensive art, we decided to rather partner with two local artists so that we can use their work as ‘décor’, and they get to use Embarc as a gallery space to sell their art to the public and to our diners,” says Lisa.
Embarc is a modern fine dining restaurant that is confidently strutting its stuff among the hot culinary talent on the Parkhurst block. It is a great locale for any celebration – a place where you can take your tastebuds on a journey of discovery of interesting flavours, textures and treats! Embarc is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and booking is recommended for evening dining.
Cost of average meal: (starter) R110 (main) R170
Type of cuisine: Fusion
Overall rating out of 10: 9
Address: Corner 4th and 13th Street, Parkhurst, Johannesburg
Phone: 081 848 6480
Words: Antonella Desi @antonella1974
Editor: Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin