Venues

Café 1999

Café 1999
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  • Location 031 202 3406
  • Phone Number Shop 2 Silvervause Centre, 117 Vause Road, Musgrave, Durban
  • email cafe1999@iafrica.com
  • Website URL http://www.cafe1999.co.za
  • Opening Hours

    Lunch: Monday to Friday 12.30pm to 2.30pm (Friday close at 3pm)

    Dinner: Monday to Saturday 6:30pm to 10:30pm (Friday and Saturday close at 11pm)

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Cost
R100 avg main meal
Ambience
Hip & happening
Food
Café fare, Mediterranean
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500
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Critic's review

Nicola Jenvey

Food
Chef Marcelle Roberts and her team have perfected the contemporary Mediterranean cuisine concept designed for sharing in this stalwart, award-winning restaurant. The seasonally-inspired menu only uses the finest local and imported ingredients for innovative, creative dishes. Café 1999 pioneered the titbits sharing concept where an array of smaller dishes take centre stage on the table. The so called “bitparts” become the main event and are available in half and full portions depending on the amount of titbits already consumed.

The signature calamata olives stuffed with ricotta, crumbed and deep-fried before being served with chilli herb mayonnaise is the opening gambit for any titbit choice, but closely following are the Double D samoosas, the tasty Durban quintessential snack filled with duck, dates and feta.

Chickpea and feta balls, a variety of dips and pita breads, Turkish figs stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in Parma ham and Moroccan lemon and pine nut lamb meatballs with cucumber and coriander should round out this portion of the dining experience.

The bitparts capture every patron’s desires – from char-grilled beef fillet to chermoula grilled lamb cutlets, fresh linefish with crispy potato wedges and leek beurre blanc or lemon and olive oil roasted cauliflower over an almond emulsion, sautéed baby spinach and spiced butternut and chickpeas.

The pasta dishes embody freshness to offer prawn, mussel, calamari and linefish risotto; homemade gnocchi simmered in a gorgonzola and butternut sauce; penne pasta with seared fillet strips, charred aubergine, tomato and calamata olives and the tagliatelle pasta tossed with char-grilled artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes in a light cream sauce.

Drinks
The wines hold equal importance to the food in Café 1999’s eyes. The award-winning list encompasses South Africa’s iconic wines while relying on the synchronicity of the wines offered to the food menu and the staff invests hours seeking out gems for their patrons.

Wines are presented with a full description on maturation as well as the nose and palate characteristics, to both embrace the wine-drinking experience and ensure the choice matches the food selected.

Service
Professional and knowledgeable staff ensure a seamless dining experience

Ambience
Warm and inviting, with the feature brick counter a central hearth to the room. The experience is chic without being ostentatious.

And…
Café 1999 also offers a broad variety of set menus that speak to corporate entertaining. Also, the restaurant is part of the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi).

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

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  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Consistency is the key here. Chef patron Marcelle Roberts has created a menu that is innovative and offers small portions for tapas-style eating. To start, forage for the likes of duck and date samoosas with feta in featherlight pastry with yoghurt and mint sauce and Moroccan lemon and pine nut lamb meatballs with tahini dressing, cucumber and coriander. Substantial dishes range from roast baby chicken served with chardonnay and mushroom risotto and lemon jus, to the slow roasted red onion and leek tart with pesto and a rocket and Parmesan salad with sun-dried tomatoes. Fish should definitely be on your radar here to look out for specials. Desserts are pure nirvana – think deconstructed banana split with crème caramel, banana marshmallow, peanut butter ice cream and salted caramel sauce or vanilla panna cotta with rose and strawberry sorbet, pistachio puree and rose jelly.

    Drinks
    Wine is taken seriously here and the proudly South African ensemble includes interesting blends and varietals. The owners have their own craft brewery, so inquire about what’s on tap.

    Service
    Take comfort in the fact that you will always recognise at least one of the waiters… the staff are clearly as loyal as the patrons. Waiters are competent and confident in all aspects of service from recommending wines to endorsing dishes. The kitchen, too, always gives a peak performance.

    Ambience
    Like the food, the small interior is fun, fresh and funky. Leather delicious monster leaves adorn hanging lights and tables, swathed in white linen napery, are clustered in close proximity to one another. Always abuzz with animated diners, it’s an intimate, vibey, happy space.

    And…
    The menu is vegetarian friendly.

    (August 2015)

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food 
    Marcelle Roberts’s contemporary interpretation of Mediterranean flavours remains relevant more than a decade later, and Café 1999 is still a hedonistic haven for vegetarians. The menu (divided into titbits and big bits) encourages communal eating, with dishes like figs stuffed with gorgonzola, wrapped in parma ham and served with toasted baguette and basil pesto. The grilled prawns with chorizo, saffron aioli, red pepper and cherry tomato salsa are appealing. The chicken livers done with bacon, garlic and chilli in a creamy tomato sauce make for a heartier starter.

    There is much praise for the grilled calamari served on a Vietnamese rice noodle salad with carrot, mint, cucumber, avocado and cashew nuts, and the cognoscenti are well aware of the magic Marcelle works with line fish. As for desserts: indulge in the triple-chocolate brownie served with a white chocolate and honeycomb mousse and white chocolate and poppy seed ice cream – they’re glorious.

    Drinks 
    The impeccable array is as thoughtfully constructed as the menu. It's quality- rather than cost conscious (although there are good-value options) and offers benchmark and boutique local wines. There is a stronger representation of white wines and a digestif selection.

    Service 
    Waiters are friendly and take service very seriously – they are erudite, insightful and adept at talking you through the nuances of dishes and recommending wines, so make full use of their considerable knowledge.

    Ambience 
    Simplicity doesn’t translate into starkness. The compact restaurant offers tables bedecked in white linen finery, but otherwise it has a modern, organic feel with wood-clad walls, a collection of horns, and delicious monster leaves recreated as leather light fittings.

    And…  
    If you’ve feeling festive after eating, move on to Unity Bar, which is in the same building and shares the same owners.

    (July 2014)

  • Food
    Chef Marcel Roberts’s style of dining, now over 12 years old, is certainly very much in vogue, and it’s a wonderful way to eat. The table groans with bowls of deep-fried olives and anchovies; chargrilled artichokes; sesame and prawn lollies; figs stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in Parma; and chicken and ginger won tons. There are flatbreads, exotic dips and maybe a satay or two. Roll up your sleeves and just dip in. All mains and salads are available in two sizes – think honey-glazed lamb cutlets, duck leg confit, or prawn and chorizo pasta. Deserts, too, are worth a whirl; you can even get a good old-fashioned banana split. How retro is that?

    Wine
    A tight boutique list with something for everyone. Very reasonably priced.

    Service
    It’s fun and funky, but gets the job done on the double.

    Ambience
    : Always a buzz, with contemporary eclectic décor, and the in-crowd enjoying plates of fine nosh. May be a bit noisy for some – then sit outside.

    And...
    Bohemian platters for two are a fantastic way to enjoy a relaxed lunch. (FC. October 2012)

User reviews

  • Thank you Eat Out for the review of Cafe 1999. It was the reason I visited and it was undoubtedly the best meal we have had.

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  • It vibes (though can get a bit too noisy at times). A gem among most restaurants in Durban because the staff are efficient, knowledgeable and give great service even when the restaurant is slammed. Food is tasty, a bit overpriced on some things but overall well worth the visit. The first place in Durban that has had soft shelled crab! Thank you for offering something different.

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  • Living in Johannesburg surrounded by a plethora of restaurants varying in quality, most of them mediocre to say the least. I have been consistently impressed with the Cafe 1999 food and service delivery over the 8 years I have had the pleasure of savouring Marcelle and Sean's cuisine and vibe. I have never had a bad meal or evening there on my visits during the December holidays and various business lunches during that time. They can be proud of the consistent quality they deliver. Something restaurants in Johannesburg don't seem to master. If only there was a Cafe1999 in Johannesburg!

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  • I’ve been to Café 1999 four times now on separate trips to Durban. The second time, a lunch, was such a disappointment I resisted trying again until a couple of months back. On this occasion my mother and I had a delightful meal so in Durban again last week, I booked for dinner on the day after we’d had a delicious lunch at my all-time KZN favourite, Ile Maurice. It was freezing and Durban is not geared for keeping its diners warm, plus the acoustics are quite appalling. In spite of these negatives, four of us rated the buzzy restaurant a great success. What I really like about Café 1999’s main courses is their option of titbit or big-bit sized portions. Only one among us had a starter, a calamari dish which got the thumb’s up, while three of us picked at green olives stuffed with anchovies and red peppers – yummy. Two of us had the titbit lamb cutlets, one chose the big-bit fillet steak on special, and the fourth selected fishcakes and salad. Everyone was happy with their choice – a rare phenomenon in my family. I usually battle to find a restaurant that meets my expectations in Durban so for this diner Café 1999 is likely to stay on the radar for future visits.

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  • Outstanding unusual starters, brilliant service, great vibe!

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Facilities

  • Alfresco
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian

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