Are these new Durban restaurants worth the hype?



One of the main features of being a food writer can be frequenting fine-dining restaurants.

By this, I mean eating out at expensive, trendy, or fancy places.

But is this a good use of your money and time? Below is what I want to explore.

There are many fine-dining restaurants in Durban, but today I would like to focus on these new and trendy restaurants I recently visited.

When going out to a restaurant, there are three things that I highly value: the atmosphere, the service, and the food.

There needs to be a good balance between these three things, and only then does it become an establishment I would frequent regularly.

1. Kali restaurant

When I saw that Kali restaurant is run by Kamisha Naidoo and Pashi Reddy, I quickly opened my notebook and put it down as one of the first restaurants I had to check out this year. I know the two never disappoint. Whatever they touch turns to deliciousness.

We have seen the couple creating amazing dishes on one of the yummiest local cooking shows, My Kitchen Rules South Africa, and heading all the way to the finals of Season 2 of the show. In 2019, they launched a range of premium spice blends called Lady Tiffin Spice Emporium.

At the launch, we were treated to an evening of fine dining where the couple prepared a four-course meal using their spices, and that’s when I got a first-time glimpse of their delicious food. Last year, the couple opened the trendy fusion tapas restaurant Kali.

Their menu features a diverse range of cuisines, blending traditional dishes with modern twists to create a truly unforgettable taste journey. Whether you’re in the mood for spicy Indian cuisine, savoury Mediterranean flavours, or a touch of Asian fusion, the restaurant has something to tantalise your taste buds.

The first sign that this was a very different restaurant in the uMhlanga Village area came when I paid attention to the menu. It was big – possibly too big.

I visited the restaurant in January on a warm and chilled Wednesday afternoon. My friend and I opted for the outside seating, so as to get fresh air and just watch the uMhlanga passers-by.

On arrival, we ordered cocktails and starters. For starters, I had their freshly shucked oysters served with a trio of relishes, while my friend had deep-fried prawn-filled croquettes served with garlic and lemon hollandaise.

t was the first time I had oysters, and I’m glad that my first-time experience was one filled with deliciousness and earthy flavours. I will no longer see them as intimidating.

For my main I had the tandoori roasted duck fillet served in a Chinese steamed bun with hoisin, sriracha, gochujang, peanuts, and coriander, while my friend indulged in her masala marinated lamb chops, char-grilled and served with green chutney dressing, spiced honey drizzle, cucumber raita and smashed new yellow potatoes.

My dish was full of flavour; I could eat it every night for dinner. The tandoori roasted duck fillet was cooked perfectly, and it had a delicious taste that was tender and moist – the perfect protein combination for meat lovers.

2. Black Bistro Lounge & Cocktail Kitchen

Situated in the new Oceans Mall in uMhlanga, the Black Bistro Lounge & Cocktail Kitchen launched last month and is one of the most talked-about hangout spots in Durban.

The restaurant in fact opened in December last year, but officially launched last month. Upon my arrival on the day of their launch, which was a chilled Saturday, I saw a place with an unparalleled experience, a place that offered a premium dining experience, a vibrant bar, and a sophisticated restaurant.

What I also liked about the place was the huge seating area both inside and outside, as well as the long bar. The interior design features millennial pink – the kind of pink that is popping up prettily and purposefully everywhere on social media these days.

The lighting at night is also soft, adding a lovely, intimate feel. Owned by the same people who own News Café in Davenport, Andrey and Joelene Marimuthu, the restaurant offers breakfast through to dinner and, although it is quite meat-focused, you will find something here to satisfy every palate.

Their efficient staff are friendly and ensure you are not left wanting for anything, even when it’s busy.

The restaurant also offers an array of premium cocktails to quench your thirst. In this regard, their “Frozen Pornstar” cocktail is one not to miss if you are really thirsty and your throat is dry.

The cocktail is made of BullDog gin, Monin passion fruit, Monin elderflower, and lemon juice, charged with Cinzano Prosecco, and garnished with fresh mint. I’m sure you can imagine the combination of these ingredients and how they will fall in your mouth.

The food not only was delicious, but it was also a pity to spoil its presentation and total attention to detail. As a starter, their mussels were gorgeous, the sauce thick and rich. Not the best I have had – but they were perfect. As a meat lover, for my main I opted for their sirloin steak, which came with chips and mushroom sauce.

This was absolutely divine – it was warm, tender, and flavourful. The flavours and ingredients were perfectly harmonised.

As a side note: with every course, cutlery was changed. If popular local word of mouth is anything to go by, it seems like – since its opening – the restaurant has been consistently achieving its mission of ensuring good food, good drinks, and good people to enjoy it with. The owners have created a unique atmosphere here.

The final verdict? They are worth trying at least once in your lifetime.

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