Venues

9th Avenue Bistro

9th Avenue Bistro
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Cost
avg main meal R160; six course tasting menu R340 per person (additional R100 for wine pairing); ten course chef’s menu (to be arranged by booking 48 hours in advance) R500 per person (additional R150 for pairing)
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Bistro fare, Modern
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500
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Critic's review

Tracy Gielink

Food
More than a decade on, this bistro remains as relevant as ever … perhaps even more so since accomplished British chef, Charlie Lakin, joined Graham Neilson in the kitchen. The focus of the menu remains the same, with dishes like grilled pork rib-eye served with a truffled macaroni cheese, broccoli and pork jus, or red onion tarte tatin with wildebeest bresaola, gorgonzola, rocket and plums. Specials could include the rich roast lamb rump with rustic pairing of edamame beans, marinated tomatoes, lamb bacon and confit garlic gnocchi or subtly smoked cob brandade, new season asparagus, heritage carrots, rainbow chard and caper mayonnaise. Charlie is a forager, so expect to see local flowers and plants as both adornment and ingredients. His love of offal can be translated into dishes such as pigs’ head terrine with squid heads, fermented carrot, squid ink kewpie, scallion and duck breast served with sweetbreads, ginger parkin and pickled cherry.

Drinks
The lovingly curated wine collection is as thought provoking as it is comprehensive. Page upon page of international and local wines are listed with succinct description. A substantial South African selection showcases wines from iconic and boutique producers. There are also premium cognacs, aperitifs and classic cocktails.

Service
A young, erudite ensemble is sharp of eye and fleet of foot. Great care is taken to observe etiquette and the service dispensed is discreet and glitch-free. A highly efficient, consistent kitchen completes the all-round experience.

Ambience
The restaurant is located in the corner of an unassuming shopping centre. A covered veranda area affords privacy with wooden shutters; the simple interior relies on wood, exposed brick and botanical artworks and tables are given a classical, understated treatment.

And…
Book two days in advance for the bespoke 10 course set menu that can be paired with wine and beer.

(August 2015)

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  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    This bistro has serious culinary credentials. Chef-patron Graham Neilson has been joined by Yorkshire man Charles Lakin, who’s worked in Michelin-rated restaurants and competed in the TV series The Great British Menu. It’s a sanctuary for those of jaded palate… Think wild mushrooms with toasted brioche, crispy egg yolk, walnuts and halloumi, or pig’s head terrine with apples, walnut and pickled turnip. Main courses are mostly meaty affairs and could include braised lamb shoulder with confit carrots, spinach, potato mash and herb yoghurt, or charcoal roasted pork chops served with Brussels sprouts, bacon, baby potatoes and tahini. It’s impossible to refuse dessert here, and the comforting pear-and-apple bread pudding served with a warm whiskey sauce, pecan nuts and fresh whipped cream elicits blissful sighs.

    The six-course tasting menu offers a good culinary overview and you can also add wine pairings for a minimal additional payment

    Drinks
    The wine list is carefully contemplated, informative and has fair mark-ups. South African bottles are listed according to varietal with vintage, area of origin, winemaker and a brief description. There are also good-value new and old world international wines. By-the-glass options cover all eventualities and you’ll also find dessert wines, local ports, sherries and cognac. Classic cocktails and some craft beers complete the picture.

    Service
    Service is impeccable and dispensed with genuine hospitality that follows through from the hands-on owners. Regulars are showered with attention; newcomers made to feel equally appreciated. The team on the floor is alert and attentive, ensuring that service matches the same high standards of the kitchen.

    Ambience
    An air of quiet sophistication is created by modern lines and a tempered use of colour. Terracotta walls radiate warmth, striking botanical photographic artworks make a statement, and black metal chairs feature against the backdrop of white napery.

    And...
    The restaurant allows children (although there are no special facilities for kids) but asks that parents respect other diners and keep their kids under control.

    (August 2014)

  • One of Durban’s most popular bistros. Excellent value for money – try to order three courses. You’ll love the personal service from the young husband and wife team. Great for a romantic date. (EO mag 2014)
  • Frank Chemaly

    Food
    Chef Graham Nielson goes from strength to strength in this swish modern bistro, serving classic creations with decidedly modern twists. The fare is seasonal, the food fresh and the ingredients of the best quality. A sample menu may take in pork and chorizo-stuffed squid, sautéed quail breast, or quail spring roll served with a lemongrass and ginger broth. And that’s for starters. Mains include fillet with raclette mash, braised oxtail and a smoked marrow bone, or frilled salmon with shrimp and mushroom dumplings on zucchini and rice noodles. The pear and apple bread and butter pudding has a reputation.

    Wine
    Some great offerings on a tight list that takes in the best of the Cape, with a few surprises thrown in. Plus a good selection by the glass. Knowledgeable staff will recommend food pairings.

    Service
    Graham’s wife, Gina, runs front-of-house with aplomb. Service is quick, welcoming, knowledgeable and efficient – and nothing is too much trouble.

    Ambience
    Relaxed and informal, keeping a distinctly upmarket edge. It’s had a makeover recently and is a lot less stark.

    And...
    For special occasions take advantage of six-course set menus – they offer exceptional value and a chance to taste everything.

    (October 2012)

User reviews

  • If I don't write this review on our visit to 9th Avenue, I'l feel like i'm doing a disservice to the world. I was that impressed, that delighted, and my mouth is watering just thinking of the food. Now Durban is not known for its culinary qualities. It's like the special cousin of Joburg and Cape Town: nice curries, but shame. 9th Avenue Bistro, however, is our claim to fame in the culinary world. The restaurant has an unpretentious feel, but the dishes are truly Masterchef-worthy. The evening started with a polite & unobtrusive waiter explaining the specials, taking drinks orders, and bringing out hot, home-made bread with butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We devoured it in minutes. A very good start to the evening's feasting. For starters, we had the crispy calamari with mayo-type dipping sauce, which was as good as crispy calamari can get. It was a rather generous portion and we couldn't finish it between the three of us. We also ordered what turned out to be the showstopper of the night: the Shellfish Orzo. A langoustine sitting pretty on a bed of lango tails & orzo (like pasta rice) swimming in a rich, creamy, buttery sauce. It was decadent. It was delicious. It was like manna from Heaven. I had never tasted anything like it before & I would go back just to relish every morsel again. For mains we ordered the duck, chicken breast and duo of beef. The duck was tender and juicy but the skin was as crispy as it should be (I tasted some). The chicken was surprisingly good - we wondered how they could transform dull old chicken breast into a fine dining dish but it was tender, rich and moreish, paired with a creamy and delicious sauce (yes, I tasted that too). The duo of beef comprised of a few pieces of fillet, cooked medium as requested, served on a pillow of light and buttery mash, with a croquette-type slow-cooked shredded beef part on the side. I must admit, I didn't enjoy it as much as the other two dishes as it had a winey undertone to it, which wasn't to my taste. I don't like my food to taste like alcohol, but it was worth trying in any case as the fillet was cooked beautifully and the mash and veggies were enjoyable. Dessert was creme brulee and their take on a fruity bread-and-butter pud. The creme brulee had the silkiest custard I have ever tasted in any restaurant (yes I tasted it, surprise surprise). It was melt-in-your mouth perfection. The fruity bread-and-butter pud didn't excite my palate at all and was disappointing. The fruit overpowered the delicate custardy taste of the pudding and we weren't wowed by it. The bill was higher than most other restaurants of similar calibre in Durbs, but then again you don't get food like that anywhere else. That was our 9th Avenue experience. I felt like I could triumphantly and smugly glance at the other foodie cities with a Ha! See what we can do in Durbs..
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  • This place is one of the best spots by far in Durban. On July 26th 2015, We showed up to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday without reservation and they found space for us. The owner did anything in her power for us to have a good time. The food is great, service is excellent and prices very fair. The ambience is perfect. When you get to Durban, this place cannot be missed. Aleman family.
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  • My family took me their recently for my birthday and we had the most special evening. The building on the outside is nothing to look at but once your inside it is cosy and modern. The service was very attentive and professional. We all loved our food. We shared starters of Shellfish orzo & pork belly (both were outstanding) It made me laugh when our mains came we all were so quiet as everyone was enjoying their food so much. I ate the fish and it was fantastic. For desserts we shared two desserts the crème brule and the blueberry cheesecake ice cream - I can't tell you which was better as they were both really great. This place is worth travelling into Durban for! PS they recommended we go to their day time café the Boiler Room and that was also fab.
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  • The family booked a table of 6 for my wife's 30th birthday on 12 April 2013. This party inlcuded a toddler. At no stage were we informed of a policy regarding kids so we were caught unaware on the day. Upon arriving, the resturant was fairly busy, with the classic bistro vibe of people chatting and enjoying what looked like excellent food. About 20 minutes after being seated, the manager (Dave) came up to the table saying that he has received complaints about the noise from the kid at the table, and that we should try to keep him down or take him for a walk. Now, given the fact that the resturant was busy and noisy, and the fact that the kid had actually been quiet apart from trying to get his aunt's attention on 2 occassions. In fact the noise (including people cursing out loud) far outweighed anything coming from our table. Also Dave mentioned that he had to move a table outside due to us, which to be honest I did not see. This as can be expected, really put a damper on the evening. The food was great and so was the waiter (Dylan) but dealing with the manager really ruined what had the makings of a great meal. Consider making the kids policy common knowledge upfront.

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  • Lunch on 28 March 2013, Fantastic food, excellent service! Pity some of us live in Jo'burg! Well done and thanks very much!

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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Booking required
  • Cocktails
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Takeaways
  • Wheelchair

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