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Review: Big Easy Wine Bar & Grill Durban by Ernie Els

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Durbanite recently had the opportunity to review the Big Easy, we loved the cosy homey vibes, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. Décor was fab, with a notable wall dedicated to Ernie Els. This gives patrons some insight into his life as a family man and professional golfer.

Our chosen wine for the evening had to be from Ernie’s collection, the Big Easy, White – Chenin Blanc (which we thoroughly enjoyed). The Wine Bar offers an expansive selection of South African premier wines along with fine whiskies, craft beers and some of the world’s choicest cigars.

Big Easy Winebar & Grill Bar Area

Big Easy Winebar & Grill Bar Area

The best place to begin… the start(ers)

The homemade corn bread served with a sweet chilli butter reminded us of home. The Cape malay shrimp samoosa was my top pick. With the home-made spiced coconut chutney accompanying it for a ‘lil bite – not too fishy – it was just rite. The grilled rolled pork belly and bacon was also a favourite. To spice things up it was served with a sticky braai sauce marinade, jalapeno and pineapple salsa.

Moving onto mains

For mains the hubster opted to try something different. He went with the chef’s recommendation of the bacon wrapped crocodile medallions. Never having tried crocodile before, this was a treat with the portion size being notably big. The dish was served on a bed of spicy carrot and sweet potato mash with a brandy and smoked mussel sauce, which lent itself to the sweeter side of things. Overall the dish was tasty and quite rich in flavour. I would recommend going lite on the starters to really enjoy the flavours of this main.

I tried the baked line fish which was absolutely delicious. It was light, fluffy and cooked to perfection. Served on a bed of west coast smoor smoked snoek and onion rice with a creamy mussel, lime and fresh coriander sauce to compliment.

Big Easy Winebar & Grill

Big Easy Winebar & Grill

Sweet tooth?

By dessert time we were quite literally stuffed (with takeaway boxes mind you!) and so opted to share the Dark Chocolate Cardamom Crème Caramel. Go BIG or go home, rite? Every bite was sent from heaven and the entire dessert was surprisingly lite. But then… there is ALWAYS space for dessert.

To Ayanda (manager), Phiwe (our loooooovely waitress) and Samkelo (chef) – thank you for the wonderful dining experience. Top class from start to finish.

For a full look at the menu and other dining options at the Hilton Durban, click here. If you enjoyed this review check out our reviews of Vasco’s Restaurant as well as the Hilton Durban!

ARE YOU…

Planning a trip to Durban and not sure where to stay?

A Durbanite looking for something new to do?

A foodie or wine lover looking to expand your horizons?

Then look no further and hook yourself up with a stay or visit to the Hilton Durban! 

If you are looking for things to do during your stay at the Hilton Durban in and around KZN, check out this list of 20 things to do!

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Entertainment

TAPAS OYSTER BOX STYLE

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With nobody travelling internationally at the moment The Oyster Box’s Executive Chef, Kevin Joseph and his culinary Team, decided to take guests to exotic places through their food instead. So the Flavour-cation concept was born. Through a variety of food experiences ‘flavour vacations’ are put together to showcase exciting new tastes… literally on our doorstep.

With the Tapas menu (Spanish word for small savoury dishes), each item, has a main ingredient and everything else on the plate contributes to the overall taste sensation. “We looked at what is popular with diners,” says Chef Joseph, “such as oysters, prawns, sharing platters etc. and then added our own taste profile and flair to each dish, to give it an Oyster Box twist. The babotie spring rolls are an example; our steamed buns are baked in-house; the Oysters harvested from our own beds and the pear chutney and hummus cooked from scratch.” The menu also offers ample choice for Vegetarians.

Tapas will be on offer in The Lighthouse and Oyster Bars until the end of November, with new and exciting dishes being added to the menu on an ongoing basis, so that our guests always have something new to look forward to.

Alongside the menu, a wide selection of wine, beer, Champagne and sparkling wine is on offer. A special mention should be made of the House Wine Selection, from our internationally-acclaimed sister winery, Bouchard Finlayson in the Hemel en Aarde Valley in Hermanus. Known for producing exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and renowned Pinot Noirs.

The TAPAS Menu is served in The Lighthouse and Oyster Bars from 12:00-19:30 daily.

Booking is essential on 031 514 5000 or by e-mail restaurants@oysterbox.co.za

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Entertainment

Krispy Kreme’s NEW limited edition Jolly Holly Range

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‘Tis the season to be jolly and with Krispy Kreme’s NEW Limited-Edition Jolly Holly Range is just that. Fill your homes with joy and cheer with the Caramel Pecan Pie doughnut, Custard Milk Tart Festive Tree doughnut, Candy Cane & chocolate doughnut and White Chocolate Kremey Chiller.

Brightening up your day is as easy as pie with the Caramel Pecan Pie doughnut. It’s an unglazed ring, dipped in a smooth Nestlé caramel treat, topped with crushed pecan nuts and a pecan nut Kreme swirl, topped off with peanut yogurt balls.

Ring in the festive season with the Custard Milk Tart Festive Tree. It’s an unglazed shell, dipped in white chocolate, filled with a milk tart flavoured filling and decorated with a festive tree and a white KitKat finger.

Your holiday can be as sweet as candy with the Candy Cane & Chocolate doughnut. It’s an Original Glazed doughnut, dipped in chocolate icing and topped with crushed candy canes, smarties and milky bar chocolates.

Sprinkle some joy and cheer on your day with the Jolly Sprinkles doughnut. It’s an Original Glazed doughnut, dipped in chocolate icing and topped with festive sprinkles.

Baby, it’s HOT outside! Cool down with the delicious White Chocolate Kremey Chiller. It’s a Milky bar flavoured creamy chiller, topped with white chocolate cream and milky bar chocolate shavings.

These doughnuts and chiller are available in stores and via Uber Eats and Mr D Food from 1 December to 3 January. The doughnuts are also available at participating Engen garages & Pick n Pay stores from 1 December to 27 December.

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Community

NOW OPEN: DANTE Umhlanga

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“The team from Dante approached me and asked if I would be interested in helping them with a project,” says interior designer Alice Kelly. “I was thrilled, but have to admit that the timelines frightened me! Once I realised that the bones of the building were good and even though the deadlines were really tight…I couldn’t say no.”  Built on the site previously occupied by the renowned Ile Maurice restaurant, Durban-based Kelly has been tasked to bring ‘a totally new restaurant and dining experience to life’, for the three owners Trent Varejes and brothers Andile and Ayanda Ngidi.    

“Dante is going to be something quite magical,” enthuses Alice. “We have NOT held back in any way. It is the type of place where you will simply feel at home and at the same time be taken on a journey that is exciting and unforgettable. This place has brought dining pleasure to many generations over the years, so we have added some life, love and colour to the venue for the next generation to enjoy.”

Combined with the strong visual aesthetic, the owners set out to find a chef who could interpret their culinary dreams for the space.  Enter another local Durban industry stalwart, Chef Marco Nico.  Well respected, uber-talented, forager and charcutier Chef Nico has over the past 30 years, owned and run many of Durban’s most well-known and popular restaurants.  

As Chef Consultant, Nico will together with Christina Martin-trained Head Chef Kyle Govender, bring to life the contemporary Mediterranean / Italian menu, with a South African twist.  Those that know Chef Nico and his slow-food ethic, will also know about his ‘local is lekker’ approach to food and you’ll find that in abundance on the Bistro menu on offer.  Chef Govender is well acquainted with the style and tastes of the East Coast, having worked at both The Oyster Box and The Beverly Hills, so expect to see an abundance of local ingredients, sustainably sourced meat and fish and the best of international… only when absolutely necessary.

Nico is excited to be bringing a whole new era of diners into a space previously recognised as one of Durban’s most famous dining spots.  Inspiration from the restaurant’s former life, can be seen in the way the building has been completely re-imagined to suit its new purpose.  Multiple venues on multiple floors offer something for every customer – from the island-style Verandah opening into the light and airy Restaurant, to the elegant Champagne Bar, tropical Oriental Bar and Cigar Bar, before stepping outside to a Gin Terrace and upwards to a show-stopping Roof-top Bar, with a 180 degree Indian Ocean sea view.

The re-incarnation of the building is ‘no accident’ according to joint owners Ayanda Ngidi, who together with twin brother Andile, have been dreaming of a venue like this ‘for as long as we can remember’.  Born and bred Durbanites, the twin brothers are well-known in local eventing circles having been the brains and energy behind The Social Pop-Up event co-ordination company that they started in 2011.

The third member of the trio, Trent Varejes, hails from Johannesburg but has known the brothers for 10 years. Discussions were already afoot for Varejes to become involved in the eventing business, when the twins presented him with an idea for a multi-storey, multi-function venue, on the Ille Maurice site, that had become available for long-term lease. Seven weeks later, their dreams have been fully realised, with the opening of Dante.

According to Ayanda, Dante, which means steadfast and enduring in Latin ‘fits with both our faith and work ethic’…it’s also ‘catchy’ he says, ”we thought it would be easy for people to remember.”  Combining their collective business experience and hospitality skills towards this one joint project has been ‘really exciting’, says Varejes.  “We wanted to create a ‘knock-out’ restaurant and I believe that with an amazing team, we’ve realised our vision.”

For the interiors, designer Alice Kelly has gone big and bold, with hints of the legacy and footprint of lle Maurice. All the existing restaurant tiles, balustrades, basins and a few mosaics have been retained to create the base of the story. “I have added moulded pressed ceilings for character, and layered with bold wallpapers, art, velvets, linens, chandeliers, chunky bamboo blinds, elegant light fittings and furniture. I think every colour under the sun has been used in this project…however it all seems to work together like a beautiful piece of tapestry.”

Spanning three exciting levels Dante boasts a Main Restaurant and Bar, Gin Garden, Cigar Bar, Oyster & Champagne Bar, Signature Bar and Rooftop Bar with hypnotic ocean views. Opens on 29 November from 12 noon and thereafter, daily for brunch, lunch and dinner; as well as for special events and private functions.   

Contact https://thedanteexperience.co.za or call 087 1333263 to book or for more information.

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