Restaurant Review #14: The Village Table, The Pearls, Umhlanga

A Birthday and Party to remember

So I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything. It’s been a really tough year and sadly my blogging and my insatiable appetite took a backseat to the chaos that has been my life for the last few months. But I’m back and I’m feeling really positive about the present and the future. I owe this to the people in my life who I really wouldn’t have been able to get through it without. To my Durban friends, Tatiana, Roman, Karen, Andre, Lee-ann, Kristin, Kevin and the latest addition to the list Alexa. To my Joburg friends, Samuels, Square and Ruth. To my London friend, Lauren and last but not least my family, my sister Wendy, my brother Ray, my little nephews Ben and Leo, and of course my mom, and my step-dad. I truly do not know if I would have had the strength to conquer this year without all of your ongoing and regular support in all shapes and forms. I have so much love for you all. OK, that’s most of the soppy stuff over and done with.

OK, maybe just a little bit more because I really do just feel like these people deserve their moment in the sun. My birthday was probably one of the most daunting days this year, and one which I expected to be one of the loneliest and saddest. I actually just wanted to get it over and done with and pretend like it was just another day at work. But my fave’s had other plans in mind. I had an entire room singing happy birthday to me while carrying the most amazing death by chocolate cake adorned with lit candles, a beautiful bouquet of flowers, Lindt chocolates, too many heartfelt hugs to count and the kindest, sweetest, re-assuring words I could ever ask for. It literally brought tears to my eyes, especially since at my work, you usually have to bring your own cake. On top of that I got a totally unexpected delivery from my family in Edinburgh and ended off the day with a gift of a larger than life hand-made wooden wall heart. Thank you Wen, Kristin, Alexa and Kevin for making me feel so loved and adored, and turning the potentially worst day into one that sent me to sleep smiling from ear to ear.

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So I think all of that gave me the confidence boost and the promise of hope that I needed to get back into my blogging and truly enjoying food again.

And what better place to pick up on that adoration for food, than at The Village Table in The Pearls Mall in Umhlanga. I’d been dying to find an occasion (as soon after payday as possible) and the right weather to appreciate everything this little restaurant had to offer after all the incredible photos I’d seen and things I’d heard. Overlooking the sea in Umhlanga Rocks, The Village Table seemed to be the perfect place for sundowners and a delicious meal on a hot Durban summer day, and even though we didn’t quite get that weather on my birthday, the rain did at least stop for us. Thanks Mother Nature!

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Walking into the restaurant, dressed to the nines, we were greeted with a warm welcome from one of the waiters. I was speechless, just staring up at the mesmerizing golden lanterns, glass orb lighting, exposed wooden beam ceiling, gorgeous botanical wall murals, beautiful black & white mosaic tiles and palm leaves here, there and everywhere. Island-style dining at it’s most elegant. I get goosebumps when restaurant decor is this well thought through and you feel like the interior designer has transported you to a different city, or even a whole different country altogether. I definitely didn’t feel like I was in Kansas anymore, I mean Durban.

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We started the party at 4PM, perfect timing for some build up cocktails and trying out some new drinks selected from their uber classy and extensive bar. They have a wide range of cocktails to choose from, and a variety of very pretty gins and flavoured tonics on offer for gin-o-clock (so basically all day, er’day). We kicked it off in full style with a bottle of Krone Champagne because even though you never really need a reason to pop open some bubbly, you only turn 34 once right? (I really am getting old..eeek!). Surrounded by amazing people. such thoughtful gifts including a golden bottle of Borgo Bello Prosecco (too gorgeous to ever open), decadent Woolies choccies, a much needed Sorbet mani & pedi voucher, and the most stunning decor, I couldn’t have asked for more on my special day.
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After lots of clinking and photo ops, we dove into the cocktail menu. The Pina Colada was colourful and refreshing, but I think it could have had a touch more rum in it. Tatiana, trying her hardest to refuse alcohol, just couldn’t say no to a Berry G&T which she said was a little too sweet for her, but she did love the garnish of berries and mint leaves which really complimented the drink. Now that our stomachs were sufficiently lined with alcohol (wait, is that in the right order? Oh well.) we were ready to dine!

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I just couldn’t decide between the main meals, and there were far too many starters that looked enticing so I decided to do what I often do and order a starter or 2 as a main so I get to taste more than 1 dish. I avoided being greedy, and ordered 1 to begin with, the Seafood Extravaganza. If I was still hungry after, I would order the fried halloumi. Cheese and I have a longstanding love affair going on (It’s complicated). Even though the Seafood Extravaganza wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be based on the menu description, I was actually pleasantly surprised. It was a huge portion firstly which is always a good start with me. It was a beautiful mix of fresh prawns, calamari and chorizo bits in a rich tomato, garlic and peri-peri soup, with a side of toasted ciabatta bread. So freaking delicious. I couldn’t get enough. We had to order more bread for the table so I could lap up every last bit of that sauce. Needless to say I was stuffed after that and everybody insisting on force feeding me a little bit of their meals. Thanks for the food baby guys. 😉 I have to mention that the prawns were cooked to perfection. I’m always a bit reluctant when it comes to prawns in soups or sauces at restaurants as the continued heat between leaving the pot or pan and arriving at the table can totally overcook prawns and ruin the whole dish. So well done on that Village Table! Just more bread all around next time please.

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Also on our selected menu was the Sweet Potato patties with Hummus starter, The Girl from Bronze Bay Chicken, The Fillet Mignon with Pepper sauce & fries, a creamy prawn pasta and the pièce de résistance, the Flaming Chorizo! Oh my goodness, this was so exciting! The Chorizo arrives at the table on this cute porcelain pig, which is then set alight right in front of your face by the waitress. For a few seconds, everyone just gets lost in this fiery spectacle and that unmistakable smell of smoked pork being licked by scorching flames. It was quite a fun experience. Alexa said that I absolutely must mention to Chorizo lovers that this chorizo is definitely more Mozambiquan style than Spanish style so has less of a cured flavour, but is still really tasty! Tatiana said her starter of Sweet Potato patties with Hummus was super delicious and reminded her of Venezuelan Arepas which are kind of like pitas made by cooking dried corn, mashing it, and then drying it into a flour to make the dough. Mmm..I’d like to try those!

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Alexa and Tatiana ordered The Girl from Bronze Bay because they always get lured in by interesting dish names. The chicken was flavourful and tender and again, I was amazed as I usually steer clear of ordering chicken at restaurants. I’ve never been wowed by chicken when out and also, why order something at a restaurant that you eat at home allll the time? Now I understand. The girls loved it as well as the fresh, healthy vegetable side pairing. I had a taste of Roman’s steak which was so thick, and so succulent with a nice peppery bite! Roman said it was without a doubt one of the best fillets he had ever had. Kevin’s creamy prawn pasta wasn’t my favourite I have to say. It was overly buttery and rich and sadly in this case, the prawns were overcooked by the heat of the sauce. Sorry guys.

Our waitress was lovely and all the waiters had a good sense of humour, even when I threatened to take their rustic wooden foot stands home with me because they were just too fabulous for words.

I chased my meal down with a pink G&T, after tasting Kevin’s and just falling in love with it. He selected the Ginologist spiced gin ( https://ginologist.co.za/ ) with the Fitch & Leedes Pink Tonic. The sparkling rose and cucumber tonic was the perfect accompaniment for the gin. I made a slight change and ordered the Ginologist citrus gin which was absolutely delicious with the same pink tonic.

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I did not want to see a dessert menu for at least a month after everything I had just eaten, but I got roped into sharing the chocolate rissoles between us 3 girls. Unfortunately I don’t have the best feedback to report though as we had to send the first batch back because the pastry was undercooked in the centre and even the second batch wasn’t the best. I think the cook may have been afraid to burn them and instead didn’t cook them enough. Perhaps a lower oil temperature next time guys. The rest of the dessert menu was very stock standard but I think that The Village Table has the potential to become a real Girls Night out kind of place. In which case the cocktails and desserts need to be flawless and unique. Maybe some salted caramel popcorn cheesecake or Lindt chocolate lava cakes? Perhaps a pastry chef on the weekends? Just a suggestion.

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All in all, we had a fabulous time, and I will certainly be back to try out some more dishes (and maybe the seafood extravaganza a few more times too), sample some more G&Ts and show off another little cocktail dress.

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A huge thank you to Tatiana @lekkerness for taking so many of the photos 🙂

 

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