DINING: DURBAN GOES DUTCH
It is somewhat surprising that Durban, famous for its magnificent art deco architecture and sometimes whimsical old buildings that include everything from colonial Victorian to stunning Hindu temples has done little to celebrate its built heritage by combining beautiful settings with great cuisine.
That’s something that the Western Cape has done so well. With everything from beautiful wine estates to iconic historical sites and even the complete re-imaging of the silo at the V& A Waterfront, a mixture of old and new, well-seasoned with imagination, has been one of the chief drawcards of the stunning Mother City.
Durban, on the other hand, has languished behind even though it has fascinating buildings such as the Victoria Street Market, the Playhouse and more to celebrate.
In fact, up until recently, the only way to charm guests and give them some inkling that the port city is really the clichéd “last outpost of the British empire” has been to take them along for high tea at the iconic Oyster Box hotel.
In reality, a visit to the iconic keeper of the Umhlanga lighthouse is not really to do with exotic patisserie but rather a peek into how the magnificence of yester year can be cleverly mixed with modern day splendour to create a hotel that is, quite literally, fit for a king.
The cake and tea is much as the same as you’d find in any upmarket café in Umhlanga (and a little overpriced) but the ambience is unforgettable and well worth the visit. In reality, this is about aspiration – how a modest teak and concrete structure built in 1863 and known as the Oyster Lodge could morph into a swan in the form of a five start hotel that makes anyone winging their way through its grand doors feel special.
DINING OUT AT THE COUNTRY CLUB
The Durban Country Club has always had a similar ambience – built for the colonial elite and accessible to non-members only on special occasions.
Opened in 1922, this Durban Country Club clubhouse is actually of Cape Dutch design and almost seems to be a green jewel on the edge of the Golden Mile opposite the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The good news is that it is no longer out of reach.
Restauranteurs Steve Christodoulou, Claire Potgieter, Jason Roberts and Tim Lander of Jack Salmon fame have created Grimaldi’s Cucina & Sushi Bar which is open to all.
Set within in the picturesque and historic Durban Country Club, overlooking the Indian Ocean, Grimaldi’s Cucina & Sushi Bar offers both al fresco and indoor dining. Whether you settle on the open veranda under the trellises and enjoy the sea view, or relax indoors, the Amalfi Coast inspired design and décor will make you feel like you’re sitting in Italy.
Combine the very best Italian cuisine with extraordinary sushi and you have the best of all worlds.
At Grimaldi’s, every ingredient is selected for seasonality, freshness and flavour. The menu explores contemporary ways of paying homage to Italy’s timeless flavour profiles, combining a unique personal touch of innovative dishes and classic service.
There’s a large range of antipasti that includes mezze platters, zuppa di granchio (crab soup), gratineed baby marrow and salmon carpaccio. Salads as well as the likes of roasted butternut and halloumi, smoked salmon and avocado are also perfect light entrées.
Mains include a choice of pollo (chicken), carne (meat) and pesce (fish) – as well as platters, combos and an extensive range of signature pasta dishes. Pizzas are all prepared in the restaurant’s pizza oven using homemade Napolitana sauces and mozzarella.
The Jack Salmon inspired sushi selection is freshly made and features California rolls, bamboo rolls, hand rolls, maki rolls, roses, sashimi, nigiri, sushi salads, and fashion sandwiches. Jack’s Famous Su’Nut and their hot crunch rolls are also on this menu.
An extensive wine list, that pairs great wines with well prepared meals, makes this a perfect lunch or dinner venue, with ample secure parking on the other side of the Durban Country Club boom gate
MORE DUTCH COURAGE
Another newcomer to Dutch dining in Durban is the cosy Cape House Café in Westville. It comes complete with glorious setting and a pebbled floored pergola, making it the perfect spot to soak up East Coast sunshine over good coffee and designer eats.
A little birdie told us the menu was designed by Marchelle Roberts of Café 1999 fame, making it a must visit.
Out & About will be dining there incognito pretty soon and we will let you know what we think.
Another interesting spot to visit if you enjoy a tasteful combination of old and new is the Bard and Minstrel at The Arch in Umhlanga. Created by well-known Durban restaurateur, Renzo Scribante, who brought both Remo’s and Old Town Italy to life, it gives things a twist in the opposite direction and brings the flavour of old Europe to the metal and glass of modern day architecture.