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Vasco’s Durban, A Tasty Delight

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Recently I had the privilege of attending a dinner at Vasco’s – a new restaurant which has recently opened its doors to Durbanites and visitors to Durban alike.

Vasco’s (named for Vasco da Gama, who introduced us to the spices of the East) is located at the Hilton Hotel, Durban. It has replaced the old Hilton Hotel restaurant, the Rainbow Terrace, yet is not just any ‘hotel restaurant’ – it is seen as it’s own entity, a stand alone restaurant where hotel guests and outside guests mingle alike.

The decor is very contemporary-chic, with a large focus on local in the design.  You can see that they’ve used both African and Indian styles in their decor with the gorgeous colours used, and the mountain range inspired wall art.

The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful, and we had a nice long chat with both the executive chef, Cleo Govender and the Hilton’s food and beverage manager Cameron Townend.

Vasco’s is also one of the only restaurants to have an electric Tandoori oven, and this provides authentic food as well as an entertainment value, as you can watch food being cooked in the oven while perusing the rest of the buffet foods available.

One can find delicious breakfasts and dinners at Vasco’s, both buffet and a la carte, and they do occasionally open for lunch.  They have two ‘themed’ evenings – Off The Hook, a seafood buffet on a Friday evening at R350pp, and Flavours Of The East, a curry buffet on a Saturday evening at R275pp.  The regular buffet cost is R310pp and the buffet is open from 6:30pm-10:30pm.  They can also host functions on their terrace, which has a gorgeous view and a very Sandton-esque feel to it.

Although we were going to eat buffet-style (my favourite – you can take exactly what you like, or just try and taste everything! Note – I could honestly not fit everything in, and I’m going to have to go back to taste the rest… yum), we did have a quick look at the a la carte menu, and the meals looked amazing.  Chef Cleo’s South African Eggs Benedict (regular eggs benedict, with added sauteed spinach, chakalaka and boerewors make this sound delightful) and the Murgh Makhani Pizza (pulled Butter Chicken, mozzarella, coriander and crispy onion on a pizza – um… yes please!) both shouted out to me.  I might have to go back for that pizza alone!  They also have an impressive wine list, with a nice variety of wines for all flavour palettes and price ranges.  We sipped on the Ernie Els Big Easy 2016 Red Blend and it was sublime.

We headed up to check out the buffet and what was on offer – and boy did I have a hard time making a decision.  On offer at the Salad and Starter section was a stunning make-your-own-salad bar, with every topping and goodie you could imagine.  I grabbed a few thing to make myself feel healthier about the fact I KNEW I’d be grabbing some naan bread later on.  There was also cured meats, cured and smoked fish, two different noodle/pasta salads, a tabbouleh salad, beetroot salad, a tomato, fennel and baked fish salad, the BEST potato salad I’ve eaten, with sesame seeds and mustard, corn fritters, sticky pork ribs, a creamy broccoli soup and an assortment of breads with butter.

VASCO'S RESTAURANT, DURBAN

Starter – Tabbouleh Salad

I tried some of the salad goodies, a potato salad, a corn fritter, some smoked salmon, some olives and pickled onions and the beef and sweet chilli noodle salad.  All were delicious and my plate was wiped clean very quickly.

Next up – the Hot and Main section.  They have a hot top grill that has a 6 day rotation of meals, which vary between things like braai/grill meet, a carvery, a chow mein station or a pasta station.  They had the chow mein station and pasta station open, and I was so tempted to go with some beef chow mein with noodles and veggies and lots of soy sauce (oh gosh I love soy sauce!) but I figured I’d go back for it.  I didn’t.  They also had the beautiful Tandoori oven going, with naan breads being constantly baked (garlic/sesame/butter varieties) and were producing some gorgeous Tandoori fish and chicken.  There was also a butter chicken curry, mutton curry and a broad bean curry, as well as a veggie casserole, a paella with chorizo and white wine, steamed green veg, baby potatoes and basmati rice, along with various toppings and chillies.

VASCO'S RESTAURANT, DURBAN

I went with the naan, some butter chicken, a bit of the Tandoori chicken and the Tandoori fish, and some of the gorgeous looking paella.  I also grabbed some of the whole chillies, as my partners plate was too full for them!  I won’t lie, I figured I’d go back for the chow mein and some of the mutton curry, but I just knew I wouldn’t have space for dessert then.  It didn’t stop me having another piece of naan though!

The Dessert section consisted of a lovely board of local cheeses with crackers and bread, as well as red velvet cake, fruit salad, brownies, trifles, mini pavlovas, mini fruit tarts, mini pecan tarts and a hot chocolate pudding with custard.

VASCO'S RESTAURANT, DURBAN

I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit much more in my full tum, so I went for a thin sliver of the red velvet cake and a brownie.  Both were utterly divine, the best red velvet cake I’ve eaten!  My only regret is not trying out the hot chocolate pudding and the pecan tarts, but hey – I’ll be back!

Visit the Hilton Hotel website to view the menu and make your booking!

Breakfast times:
Monday to Friday: 6.30am – 10.30am
Saturday, Sunday & public holidays: 7:00am – 11:00am

Dinner times:
Monday to Sunday: 6.30pm – 10:30pm

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Events

Diarise these Oyster Box events in December

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Diarise these Oyster Box events for the month of December.

DINNER AND A MOVIE 2nd December
It’s date night at The Oyster Box! Start your evening with a two-course dinner in the Ocean Terrace at 18h00, followed by a movie with popcorn and a glass
of sparkling wine in the cinema at 20h00.
18h00 in The Ocean Terrace I 20h00 in The Cinema I Price: R590 per person

CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT 14th & 15th December
A time of tradition and family, Christmas Carols on the Ocean Terrace at The Oyster Box, marks the beginning of the Festive season and summer holidays.
A plated starter, buffet main, plated dessert and festive entertainment are on the menu.
Time: 18h00 – 21h00 I Venue: The Ocean Terrace I
Price: R690 per adult, R420 per child under 12 years

CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER 24th December
Get the Festive weekend off to a stylish start with Christmas Eve Dinner in the elegant Grill Room.
Regrettably no children.
Time: 18h00 – 22h00 I Venue: The Grill Room I Price: R2 600 per person

CHRISTMAS DAY LUNCH 25th December
Each of The Oyster Box’s dining venues will be offering delicious lunch feasts on Christmas Day. All venues will be offering live music, a welcome beverage
on arrival and delicious seasonal menus.
Time: 12h00 – 16h00 I Venue: The Ocean Terrace and The Grill Room I
Price: R2 600 per person, R1 600 per child under 12 years

NEW YEAR’S EVE DINNER 31st December
“SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER”
Put on your best Boogie Shoes as we take you back to the Seventies this New Year’s Eve! Dance your way into 2023 in retro 70’s gear and join us for a blast from the past!
Time: 19h00 onwards I Venue: The Pearl Room I
Price: R2 900 per adult, R1 900 per child under 12 years

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Food

Enzo – first KZN pizzeria recognised in nationwide challenge

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Scottburgh’s renowned Enzo Pizzeria Trattoria has become the first KwaZulu-Natal restaurant to make it into the Top 10 of the nationwide Porcupine Ridge Pizzeria Challenge 2022.

Owner Enzo Tilli is over the moon for making it to the number five spot despite stiff competition from around the country. No KZN restaurants made it into the top 10 in the 2021 challenge.

In 1990, at the tender age of 18, Tilli decided to follow his passion for creating authentic Italian food and with the help of his mother, embarked on an adventure into the unknown opening Enzo Pizzeria in Johannesburg’s West Rand. The authentic pizzas he dished up were an instant hit and it was not long before Tilli opened a second branch at Gold Reef City.

Seven years later Tilli sold his two eateries and moved to KwaZulu Natal to open Enzo Pizzeria Trattoria in Scottburgh. As was the case in Gauteng, it did not take long for Enzo to become a popular destination for locals and tourists who – 25-years later – still can’t get enough of his mouth-wateringly good pizzas. Says Tilli: “Like all good pizzas, ours are made with the finest ingredients and cooked to perfection in a wood-burning clay oven.”

Despite the celebrations, Tilli made some time to answer a few questions about Enzo and – more importantly – his coveted pizzas!

Tell us a bit about your restaurant and what makes your pizzas so popular
Enzo’s is more an eatery or as we say in Italy a ‘trattoria’ which means casual and relaxed dining. Our pizzas are made in the authentic Neapolitan style, in a wood-burning oven. They have a light and airy base, and we use only the best quality ingredients. We believe that whoever is making the pizza should have lots of love for what they are creating and that their passion is a big part of what makes them so good.

What is your signature pizza or best-seller?
Without doubt the Del Greco pizza which has a bacon feta and fresh avocado topping. We also have four different starter pizzas, three Calzongino choices (foot long, fold over pizzas), six different vegetarian pizzas and 19 more other options from which to choose.

What’s better, a thin crust or a thick crust?
For me, it must have a thin, light base and slightly charred on the bottom and must always be cooked in a wood-burning oven just like in Naples, the home of the pizza.

What is your favourite pizza topping?
I still like the classics – a Regina, a quattro stagioni or a simple Margarita with anchovies.

For more on Porcupine Ridge, please visit: www.boekenhoutskloof.co.za/porcupine-ridge

Enzo Pizzeria Trattoria can be found at Shop 5 The Terrace, 129 Marine Terrace, Scottburgh, KZN. Telephone number for bookings: 039 978 3674

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Entertainment

Top 10 Lekker Places To Celebrate Christmas Lunch

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We’ve got the Top 10 places to
visit in our lekker province, KZN!

Have we missed any epic places out? Let us know in the comments down below or drop us an email at hello@durbanite.co.za

 

1: The Oyster box, Umhlanga

2: Old Town Italy, Umhlanga

3: Brahman Hills, Midlands

Brahmin Hills

Photo: https://www.brahmanhills.co.za/

4: The Baron, Umhlanga Arch

Photo: https://www.thebaron.co.za

5: Grimaldis, Umhlanga Pearls

The Best View In Town

6: The Cargo Hold, Ushaka

7: La Piazza, Ballito

8: Stretta, Hillcrest

9: The Village Table, Umhlanga Pearls

Bringing people together in a central meeting place in the village of Umhlanga. The stylish and buzzing Village Table situated in The Pearls Shopping Centre is much more than just a restaurant – it is an experience. The cosmopolitan ambiance is ideal for intimate dinners and group gatherings alike. fusing cuisine, cocktails and culture in a fashionable setting.

10: The Black Rabbit, Hillcrest

Notable Mention:
Jack Salmon, Glen Ashley
Atasca, Westville
Bellevue, Kloof

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