There’s so much more to Durban than just sun, sea and sand.
By Tracy Gielink
The sun-drenched Golden Mile stretches from the ice creamhued, art deco-inspired Suncoast Casino to uShaka Marine World. The heart of it is the sprawling paved walkway flanked by beaches and the warm Indian Ocean on one side and columns of hotels and flats on the other. Hire a bike or pull on your rollerblades and allow it to lead you past Mini Town, the skate park adorned with graffiti art, enormous sand sculptures by informal artists and the retro paddling pools and funfair. Cheap and cheerful takeaways and franchises abound, but there are also some great foodie finds, including street vendors selling delicious pieces of pineapple lightly dusted in curry powder.
Havana Grill at Suncoast Casino remains perennially popular. The menu is all-appealing but it’s a mecca for the carnivorous, complete with in-house butchery and wall-mounted boards listing how long each cut has been aged. A recent image overhaul has given the broody, handsome restaurant a fresher look with white leather chairs and Mediterranean shutters to complement wooden panelling, and the library, which also holds wine list awards. Enjoy the snob appeal of The Havana Club where an annual fee buys you a locker filled with premium whisky and cigar storage space plus use of the private dining rooms. Suncoast Casino, 1 Battery Beach Road, Battery Beach, 031-337-1305, www.havanagrill.co.za. Mon – Sun: lunch and dinner.
The next beachfront stop is Circus Circus Beach Café, which is prime property. It ticks all the boxes, with gorgeous sea views (they have permission to put a limited number of tables right on the beach), a bicycle park, kids’ play area, water bowls for exhausted dogs and a laid-back café menu. The breakfast run (it stretches to noon) is the most popular and includes diverse choices, from apple and cinnamon muffins to health sundaes and the popular Mediterranean breakfast with scrambled eggs, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, grilled aubergine and Kalamata olives with marinated feta and basil. Later, fill up on burgers, toasted sandwiches or wraps, or choose from a great selection of cakes. 90 OR Tambo (Snell) Parade, Bay of Plenty, 031-337-7700, www.circuscircus.co.za. Mon: 6am to 5pm; Tues – Sun: 6am to 6pm.
The Golden Mile’s hotels also house a collection of eateries. In the Belaire Suites Hotel is Café Jiran, which offers aficionados fantastic quality coffees and teas. Five pages of the breakfast and lunch menu are dedicated to coffee alone and they’re adamant they will not be relegated to offering a quick graband- go caffeine jolt. Their rich, smooth brews are made from freshly roasted blends or single origin beans and should be relished slowly. An extensive tea menu concentrates on the green version and the delicately fragranced Chinese flower green tea is highly recommended. The service can be sluggish but grab a pavement table in a spot of sunshine and relax. Also open for fine-dining dinners. Belaire Suites Hotel, 151 OR Tambo (Snell) Parade, North Beach, 031-332-4485, www.cafejiran.co.za. Mon – Sun: 6:30am to 10pm; Tues – Sat: fine dining.
Everything at the authentic Daruma restaurant in the Elangeni Hotel is prepared with Japanese skill and precision and has been for the last 19 years. The sushi is exceptional and the large meltin- the-mouth salmon roses topped with gleaming, large fish roe are the best in town. Three teppanyaki tables offer the spectacle of food cooked-to-order and owner Masako Shibuya is very proud of the tempura items that have been made to her exacting standards by the same chef for 18 years (try the prawns – Daruma only uses king-size). A local wine list is supplemented with Japanese beers and wine. Southern Sun Elangeni, 63 OR Tambo (Snell) Parade, North Beach, 031-337-0423, www.daruma.co.za. Mon – Sun: lunch and dinner.
Next door is Jewel of India, which has 15 years of experience producing North Indian food. Pass through ornate wooden doors guarded by carved sitar players and into the moody interior, which is lightened by stained glass ceiling panels. Eager-to-please staff confidently make recommendations off the extensive menu, like flavourful lamb rogan josh and paneer makhani or veg Hyderabadistyle for vegetarians. The menu has a useful heat rating to guide the uninitiated. Southern Sun Elangeni, 63 OR Tambo (Snell) Parade, North Beach, 031-337- 8168. Mon – Sun: lunch and dinner.
By Clinton Friedman