I’ve been hearing great things about this café for years, but what really peaked my interest was that it shares the same owners with Lupa Osteria, one of my absolute favourite restaurants in Durban. Probably what took me so long to go and try it out was the fact that it was all the way up in Kloof and I’m never in that area for any other reason, so it was never top of mind when thinking of places to go for breakfast or lunch. But we eventually made it one stinking hot humid day a few weeks ago, after a trip to the Hillcrest pet shops (again – yes, I know). We had to use our GPS as it isn’t a restaurant that you’ll just notice off the side of the highway, but instead it’s nestled snuggly between Fat Tuesday (said to be Kloof’s best kept secret showcasing local artists, designers & photographer’s pieces) and the Delcairn Shopping Centre, at 5 Bellevue Rd, Kloof. There is ample shaded parking inside as well as on the street if that gets too packed. When we arrived, we were unaware of the parking inside, so we parked down the road outside, under the watchful eye of a very friendly car guard.
We were greeted by a lovely garden setting under plenty of umbrellas and high trees. Just what we needed for such a scorching day. There were a few tables uncovered for those children of the sun, and a few more inside the restaurant if you haven’t yet acclimatized to the occasional rain forest, which is Durban. The garden is surrounded by bushes and flowers and really makes you feel like you are at a relaxed luncheon in a friend’s back garden, but here is your forewarning that as beautiful and serene as it is, if you have a tendency to attract mosquitoes, then do yourself a favour and take a peaceful sleep stick or alternatively some anti-itch cream for your ankles. Those buggers love the cover just as much as you will.
While watching vintage cars and yellow beetles with surfboards drive by, we admired the inside area, which has much the same look as Lupa (see my review of Lupa) and checked out the Drinks Chalkboard which displayed various craft beers, assorted wines and much to my delight, the Dragon fiery ginger beer I discovered at Union Square (see my Union Square review). This was next to the Specials Chalkboard, which changes just before every meal. They were just starting to rub off breakfast and add the lunch specials, so in the meantime we perused the menu and enjoyed the fresh air. I’m going to be honest and say the food selection, even though extensive, won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, especially if you’re a “burger, pizza & wings only” kinda person. But it’s definitely my kind of place. Unusual and new and unique flavours combine to produce a beautiful variety of breakfasts, salads, sandwiches, pastas & classic dishes with a twist, that both look & taste the part.
I don’t usually like to mention anything bad about restaurants, because I think that every place has their slow or understaffed days, but there was only one thing that annoyed us a little bit. The service was really slow and the Artisan Bread was not very impressive. We had about 5 different people serve us and we had to ask 2 people at a time for drinks, a wine list, food menus, a spoon and more bread. The artisan bread was toasted and very thinly sliced. Not very impressive when all you want to do is lap up your creamy bacon chicken liver sauce with some fresh, door stop bread. Our friend’s, Megan and Marc who frequent Bellevue, and also happened to be there at the time, said that both the service and the bread were usually much much better. So don’t let this stop you from visiting them.
Other than that, it was a very pleasant experience ambience-wise, and the food, the most important part of course, was top notch. Craig ordered the Chicken livers peri-peri with bacon in a light cream sauce with toasted artisan bread and although he enjoyed them, said that he preferred the one’s from Harvey’s because he was given the option to have them medium rare (see my review of Harvey’s), but I stole a taster of the livers and the sauce to compare for myself, and I loved it! Creamy, meaty and just a touch of heat & bacon-y goodness.
I never order salads at restaurants because the gourmet ones are always too expensive when compared to a main meal OR the ingredients don’t sound complimentary enough, and adding the necessary extras (in my opinion) would mean breaking the bank anyway. But I was willing to pay R95 for a salad when this is what it contained: Roasted quinoa with grilled chorizo, spice dusted chicken, fennel, orange segments, cous cous, caramelised apple and toasted almonds.
Now, I’ve never had quinoa before and I was dying to see what all the fuss was about. So I asked Craig what it was like and he said it was similar to budgie seed. Um..yum? Not quite the picture I had in my mind. But all those people who love it so much couldn’t all possibly be wrong right? It was awesome! With everything else in the salad being so soft and juicy, the crunch that the roasted quinoa and the toasted almonds brought to the dish was exactly what it needed. Everything was just SO good: The generous portion of soft gently spiced chicken strips that must have been marinated overnight, the salty and rich chorizo, the sweet and citrusy orange segments, the caramelized and slightly cinnamon spiced apple with a tangy kick from the fennel mayo dressing. A really delicious and perfectly guilt-free dish. It was a huge portion too so I ended up taking half home for Monday’s lunch. That’s one way to make the first day back at work a little bit brighter!
Worth a trip guys – breakfast, lunch or early dinners, but perhaps take along some extra time and a little bit of patience if they happen to be having a slow day. Believe me, the food and atmosphere will make up for it.