Pictures: Nathan Adams
Pictures: Nathan Adams
Walking into a new restaurant gives me the same joy that the smell of a new book does, it stimulates all my senses.

Lily’s Restaurant in Mouille Point, opened its doors for the first time last month and everything, including the menu is still shiny and new. Perched right on the main road, it’s tucked away underneath an apartment complex and if you blink you would probably miss it.

Luckily on frosty autumn evenings, the heaters are on full blast and light up the entrance and set the ambiance inside.

Part of the familiarity of the restaurant is that in many ways it’s decor, menu and gourmet-bistro style reminded me of another restaurant- Tasha’s.

This is a compliment because, Lily’s succeeds with that relaxed atmosphere, but has food on the menu that should be taken seriously.

When you start glancing at the menu, the welcome message sums it all up: “Lily’s is particularly dear to us as it is named after the owner’s daughter and the menu and decor is designed and inspired by the owner’s wife. Our family business has crafted this homely, casual spot just for you.”

This sentiment of homeliness isn’t lost on me and I did feel as if I would have appreciated the restaurant even more if I’d first set foot there for lunch or an early dinner.

The vast selection of teas on the menu also didn’t help that soothing feeling where I could envision myself sipping a cuppa Green Tea or Herbal Infusion. Teas are reasonably priced at R28.

While waiting for the starter to arrive and observing the full set-up at Lily’s you do get the sense that the restaurant is a bit cramped and they would be better off losing a few tables to give staff and patrons a bit more room to move. And the place did fill up and at times it felt too crowded but without the outside space being an option on a cold night you can almost forgive restaurant management.

The “Appetisers & Light Bites” are well priced, with a strong focus on seafood and fish. There’s the Lily’s Salmon Cakes, Gun Show “Mussels” and grilled calamari to choose from. On any given summer’s night they would be perfect with your sundowners but I found the Caesar Salad Croquettes was the right choice.

The chicken croquettes were perfectly fried and the Caesar dressing was light and flavourful. If you want to start your meal on an indulgent note, then order the Quack Eggs. It’s shredded duck meat, soft boiled egg, a panko crust, radish aioli and a baby leaf salad. It does feel better suited to a lunch time meal and the aioli is quite sharp, but the duck meat is really tasty.

I’d like to add that there are no holy cows with the mains menu, but I can’t because there’s a delicious beef fillet dish named Holy Cow. It’s the perfect mains for a night out at Lily’s; the beef is beautifully tender and I had it medium rare which was perfect. The sauce was also satisfactory for me, but others might find it too rich and salty.

I already had one eye on the dessert menu because there was a sweet ending waiting for me called Please Sir Can I Have S’mores.

The chocolate Pot De Crème was not as sweet as you’d expect it to be and the peanut butter cookie crumble at the bottom of your glass will have you begging for more. The roasted marshmallow and ice cream is indulgent, but that’s what I want for a dessert, especially when it’s cold outside.

Lily’s has a cosy restaurant feel, with a menu that is almost a bit too gourmet. What you see on the menu reads as fussy food, but when it’s plated and on the table it’s tasty, clean and uncomplicated flavours and meals.

It’s brave to open a restaurant just before a Cape Town winter sets in, and I really hope it survives the fickle weather because it is the perfect setting for a summer’s meal.