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Review: MasterChef SA finalist’s new ice cream café, Era, in Durban

After making it as a top 10 finalist in MasterChef SA in 2014, Penny Fitchet turned to making inventive flavours of homemade ice cream. The former teacher decided to transform her passion into a business when she launched Era, her retro ice cream parlour in Durban.

Food

The menu will instill childlike wonder and excitement. Ice creams, which can also be purchased to take away, are named after famous historical figures like Vladimir Lenin, Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso and Winston Churchill, and an extensive range includes a classic vanilla, peanut butter, salted caramel, chocolate Oreo, lemon meringue and some alcoholic variations like chocolate, rum and raisin, and coffee liqueur. Baked offerings change daily and can include dense chocolate cupcakes, spiced carrot cake or a deliciously decadent chocolate tart crammed with caramel and marshmallow.

ERA Ice Cream. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

ERA Ice Cream. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Light, crispy Belgian waffles (R40) can be partnered with your choice of three ice cream flavours. Go retro with a sundaes (R30 for small and R40 for large) like apple and cinnamon, strawberry and vanilla or salted caramel, banana and vanilla. If you can bear to tear yourself away from the sweet options, there is a light lunch menu that operates during the week and offers one soup, tart, salad and sandwich (with banting options) daily. Think biltong, red onion and camembert tart; French lettuce soup; seared beef with Asian slaw; or roasted butternut, spinach and feta sandwich.

Drinks

Coffees are made from delicious beans from the KZN Midlands-based Terbadore Coffee Roasters and come in dark roast, French vanilla, Dutch chocolate, hazelnut and English toffee. Have the best of both worlds by ordering an affogato or try an old-fashioned float.

ERA Ice Cream. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

ERA Ice Cream. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Service

This is a one-man operation when it comes to service and preparing food. The small space is presided over and managed from the open-plan kitchen. Eye contact will elicit service; else wander over to the counter and place your order. It’s all very casual and service is dispensed with a smile.

Ambience

The playful interior sees a black-and-white checked floor partnered with blue walls and framed pictures of instantly recognisable politicians, film stars and artists. Most of the cosy interior is consumed by the kitchen, which is demarcated by a counter topped with objet and freshly baked goods.

ERA Ice Cream. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

ERA Ice Cream. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

And…

Penny does pop-up dinners at every four to six weeks at various locations. Expect a four-course meal for R250 and you can bring your own drinks.

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals. Read our editorial policy here.

Have you had ice cream at Era? Let us know what you thought.

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