Restaurant review #3: Surf Riders Food Shack

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A few weeks ago, my friend Minette & I were trying to decide where next to have our quarterly couples dinner. These decisions are getting tougher and tougher because we’ve both already eaten at most of the affordable restaurants in Durban, and we were in the mood for something fresh & summery! Minette suggested breakfast instead of dinner which I was very keen on. She then asked me if I had ever been to Surf Riders on South Beach? At first I was like, “oh dear, is this like one of those tiny little food shacks on the beachfront where you order your meal, and end up sitting on the pavement because they don’t have enough seating?” She then added that it’s right next to Addington Hospital. Now the last time I drove passed Addington Hospital, I remember thinking it would be a great setting for a horror movie, so that didn’t make me feel anymore confident in the place. Would we be clutching our purses, constantly watching our backs or jumping & shrieking at any sudden noise? But she raved about it and I thought, you know what, I know Minette’s taste in food, and even if the place isn’t 100% kosher, I know that the food will be finger licking! Besides, safety in numbers right?

Craig and I planned to meet Minette & Devin there, so we drove along the promenade from South Coast Casino taking in all the sights and sounds of both the usual beach goers and the taxi-loads of people arriving from all over South Africa for the holiday season. For the first time, I really felt like it was Christmas. The other thing that really stood out for me was how clean the area was and how safe it appeared to be. I obviously had a very skewed view of what that side of the beachfront was like and I’m happy to say that my opinion has now changed. Don’t get me wrong though. I won’t be skipping along there on my own with my iPhone hanging out my pocket and cash jingling in my pockets like a carefree tourist, but I cannot wait to explore it further. And what a perfect strip to take my mom and step-dad to during the festive period for morning jogs.

We only had Addington Hospital as a landmark so we just drove along looking for signs. When we got to Addington Hospital, I could not believe the transformation. I was absolutely blown away by the work that has been done on it, and it definitely lifted my spirits a bit more about where we were going. We then passed a yellow shack on the beachfront, which I thought could be Surf Riders, which turned out to actually be Afro’s Chicken – another place Minette says that we HAVE to try. Next time, Min! Eventually we got to a much larger place that had a little Surf Riders sign hanging off the side of the building like a huge Billabong tag hanging off the side of a pair of board shorts. It looked awesome! I was so wrong. I was about to feel like a surfer girl chowing down on a delicious wholesome meal after an early morning filled with some “cooking” waves. Devin’s word, not mine. 😉

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So as we approach, I realise that what I thought was a double story restaurant is actually a Surf Shop atop the Surf Riders Food Shack restaurant. How awesome! It’s like a one stop shop, “chop” and dop for anyone interested in surfing, skating, bodyboarding, SUP (that’s short for stand up paddling – thanks for educating me Min!) or simply swimming and tanning, followed by some good company, food and drinks. They even offer a hire service for bicycles, go karts, stand up paddleboards, surfboards, bodyboards and skateboards. We had originally planned to rent bikes after breakfast, but since it was over 32°c in the shade at 9AM already, and the sweat was making it impossible to keep our shades on, we decided to take a rain check. Thank goodness for a slight breeze that occasionally blew through the restaurant.

We asked for a table outside in the sun but with the most amount of shade possible. Our waitress was able to manoeuvre one of those huge industrial umbrellas so that we could share the shade with the table next to us, but even that wasn’t enough and we eventually had to move to a more sheltered bench next to the wall. But of course, the sun moves, and when Minette was practically on Devin’s lap trying to escape the scorching rays, he decided to move the Umbrella around to give us more cover. Minutes later, that slight breeze I mentioned picks the umbrella up out of it’s weighted base almost smacking Devin in the face, and flings it into the middle of the restaurant luckily getting caught quite quickly by an extremely fast and surprisingly calm customer. Yikes! How that all happened with nobody getting hurt, no screams and no drinks being spilt, I have no idea, but turns out that the Durban beach air just rusts the screws that usually keep those umbrellas firmly planted to the ground. Hectic bru! The waiters were very sweet and apologetic.

But then it gets even more exciting. Devin and the waitress proceed to try and screw the umbrella back into the base by holding it diagonally and spinning it around and around at high speed, totally oblivious to Minette right behind them screeching “Devin! Devin!” over and over again while cowering up against the wall trying her damnedest to escape near death by circular saw. I probably should have been trying to help her, but in my defence, from my angle she was not in any danger and besides, this was probably the funniest scene I had witnessed in person in who knows how long! I called it my “Breakfast & a show”. For about 5 minutes after that both Devin and Minette were just pale-faced and in shock while I was absolutely wrecked and crying with laughter. This is one of the reasons I LOVE meeting up with Minette. Never a dull moment, and you always leave with a lighter heart and filled with laughter.

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But anyway, back to the food because this is supposed to be a restaurant review after all..

To start, Minette recommended the beetroot juice, which she warned me was VERY beetroot-y, but I ordered it anyway because I felt like something different. It was amazing! But if you aren’t a huge (and I mean huge) fan of beetroot, and having purple lips and teeth, then I wouldn’t recommend it. Minette describes it as having a distinctively earthy taste, and when you drink it, you feel like you are giving your body all the nutrients that it needs for the day. I would have to agree with her. After eating way too much Domino’s the night before, my body was definitely starting to feel happier with every sip.

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Devin had an orange & granadilla slush, and Craig had Sam’s Crazy Detox (with granadilla {they ran out of orange juice}, Celery & Mint) to help him with the never-ending hang over from the Gorillamas (Gorilla Xmas) Party & Colly’s surprise birthday party the weekend before.

Sadly, I can’t report that Craig made a miraculous full recovery after the detox juice, but he did really enjoy it. His exact words were “super tasty”. Devin seemed to really enjoy his too, looking very chuffed that he chose the iciest drink between us. No wonder he was looking the least parched.

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So I mentioned that Craig & I had indulged in Domino’s the previous night, all because if you register online, you get 50% off your first pizza ordered online, and we thought YOLO – Why not buy some more stuff with the money we saved. My body was hating me. I was obviously playing a game of how much dough can I fit inside me by consuming most of a cheesy jalapeño and bacon bread, followed by the chocolate decadence dessert (which is basically chocolate chunks baked into yes, you guessed it, another bread). Needless to say, I was not very hungry when it came time to order breakfast, but those cheese fries that have a warning on the menu of being extremely addictive, were hard to refuse. So I ordered some of that.

Now, I usually despise when restaurants drown chips in spices and sauces before you have a chance to decide if they really need a little something extra or not, but this was SO good! Imagine “slap” chips doused in cheese sauce surrounded by crispy crunchy golden wedges sprinkled with a sweet & salty emulsion of pizza topping & Japanese 5 spice – type flavours. Mmmm!

It was served wrapped in wax paper and in a little cardboard box, which was just SO cool. There’s something about eating chips this way instead of out of a bowl that is just so quaint and beachbum-like. I’ll go as far as to say Best chips in Durban!

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Minette and Devin have definitely become locals and both have their favourite, which was the same dish – the Breakfast Works. This is a sesame bun filled with two poached eggs & chorizo gravy baked in a pizza oven & topped with hollandaise sauce. You also have an option to supasize the flavour with some streaky smoked bacon or a portion of fries. This dish was so beautifully presented that you’d think we were having breakfast at a 5 star restaurant. You know when random placement of sliced radishes and watercress is not quite so random? And apparently it tastes just as good as it looks. I had a little taste of the chorizo gravy that I was so intrigued by and it was lovely. Kind of like a slightly spicy Napolitano sauce with chorizo bits cooked into it instead of mince. Minette recommends adding your extra poached egg to the top of your bun and breaking the yolk, letting it and the chorizo relish soak into the bun. She cautioned that it IS a rich dish but is a perfect portion size to give you a punchy start to a big day ahead.

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Craig ordered the Deluxe Dog, which is a crisp bacon-wrapped sausage topped with slow-cooked onions, piccalilli & the house cheese sauce. You are given the option to add chilli to spice things up if you dare. Craig passed on the extra heat, probably because he displayed enough Dutch Courage at the end of year parties. I’m a little bit embarrassed to say that I had to Google what Piccalilli was. I knew it was a relish, possibly onions that were sweetened and possibly pickled, and I was surprisingly close. Piccalilli is in fact an English relish, which can consist of a wide variety of chopped pickled vegetables & spices. Craig loved the combination of the salty crispy bacon (even though he obviously wouldn’t have said no to a few more pieces) and the sweet and sour piccalilli & gherkins, piled on top of the almost foot long sausage.

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Well, we were stuffed and left soon after to start our day with full bellies and a smile on our faces.

I will definitely be meeting them there again soon, perhaps next time for the Rider’s homemade ice-cream with caramel fudge sauce or biscuit-crunch, or maybe even a whey protein smoothie if I happen to still be stuffed from who knows..KFC the night before?

Thanks so much to Minette, Craig & Devin for their delightful company and for their contributions to the food reviews 🙂

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