The Athenaeum complex in the historic part of Port Elizabeth Central has undergone a radical, long overdue and utterly delightful transformation in the last few years – from drab with a much-loved Little Theatre on the premises, to vibrant and dynamic art centre and completely rejuvenated stage and mini-conference venue.
No wonder then that it’s been waiting for an eatery and coffee emporium to add to the mix and complete the picture.
And the Restaurant de Belmont is just that with its casual, simple but brightly coloured furnishings that are enhanced by the striking kaleidoscope of mosaic beadwork on the walls and snaps of sculptors at work.
You immediately feel as though you are in an art space, and it has a wonderfully calming effect.
The menu is straightforward and all tastes are catered for, with some nifty artistic specialities thrown in.
There is, for instance, the Strawberry Surprise: grilled prawns on a bed of strawberries with feta, cashew nuts, lettuce and a honey and vinaigrette dressing. There are some great breakfast items including waffles, a cheesy omelette, mixed grill and health options, and the budget brekkie with two fried eggs, bacon, sausage, chips and toast is true value for money.
There are an array of starters on the menu including mussels, calamari and escargot; in addition to salmon with latkes potato, while mains are also a tricky choice for the taste buds – tarragon chicken, gammon steak, chilli beef and kidney stew, chicken schnitzel, and a choice of pastas, to name a few.
The chicken strips and feta salad I selected for lunch was tasty and light with succulent medallions and a choice of two dipping sauces.
Desserts are appropriately creative with milk tart topped with ice cream being a tempting example.
The establishment also has its own signature coffee blend from Port Elizabeth’s long-standing coffee specialists Mastertons, for that extra rich touch.