We showcase the delicious food served at Ngala Lodge's famous restaurant under the guidance of chef Jonathan Groves.
For anybody who has been fortunate enough to stay at Ngala Lodge, you're sure to still find yourself fantasising about the incredible flavours and presentation of the delicious international cuisine served in their restaurant. You'd have Jonathan Groves to thank for those culinary pinnacles which punctuated your holiday to The Gambia; he's the chef at Ngala Lodge's restaurant and brings with him a wealth of experience that he has collated from working across various corners of the globe.
Jonathan is currently in his ninth year of working at Ngala Lodge; nine years in a career which has seen him travelling and working everywhere from Paris and London to Jordan and Sweden. His wealth of experience began with training at the Charing Cross Hotel in The Strand and Westminster College before he caught the travel bug and began to explore new cultures and cuisines.
After spending a year in Libya, two years at London's Barbican Centre and three years in Jordan, Jonathan began his first stint of work in The Gambia when he took an Executive Chef position at a leading Gambian hotel at the age of 30.
Three years later, Jonathan was on the move again, working in Paris, London, The Gambia for a second time, Abu Dhabi and Dublin, before returning 'back home' to The Gambia in 2005. Since his return, Jonathan has welcomed many happy guests, including their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall when The Gambia rejoined the Commonwealth. Read more about their royal visit, here.
"At Ngala I cook international cuisine using fresh items whenever possible, but incorporate local produce such as bissap leaves and flowers for juices, sauces and ice cream, boabab fruit for juices and ice cream and sabayons. We grow a lot of salads and herbs in our garden which gives us a better choice than what is available in the local market," Jonathan says.
Fresh and flavoursome are certainly two words that blend perfectly when describing Jonathan's food, something enhanced by the sea breeze and stunning views afforded from Ngala Lodge's terraced restaurant. In 2017, the restaurant welcomed a new cocktail bar, again making the most of the stunning vistas and incredible sunsets. In addition to the breath-taking setting, low-key entertainment creates an inviting atmosphere for your evening meal.
We were recently fortunate enough to sample Jonathan's superb food once again during a visit to Ngala, and on this particular occasion we dined on tuna cerviche to start and beef medallions for our main. Both were sensational and truly reflected the unique, boutique and memorable qualities of Ngala Lodge itself - its no wonder the restaurant has continuously been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
So why The Gambia? What is it about this tiny country that has continued to draw Jonathan back after all these years exploring and experiencing different places around the world? Primarily, as Jonathan puts it, it is the friendly and welcoming nature of the people, as he explains:
"The reason I have stayed here so long is the fact that although English is their second, third or even fourth language, their sense of humour is fast and when one talks in parables they are so quick to pick it up and play it back to you."
And this same observation resonates throughout the Ngala staff as well:
"In regards to what sets Ngala apart from the other hotels and restaurants is the staff. They are very attentive without being overpowering. We have many repeat guests and the staff always remember their names and what they've liked from previous stays."
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