The Britannia Hotel’s Capsicum Restaurant is renowned for its mutton bunny chows and the take-away kitchen sells literally thousands of this signature Durban street food every month. Overall the restaurant pays homage to the city’s Indian cuisine and starters include fish cakes, chicken livers, puri patha rolls, and samoosas with the full range of meat and vegetable fillings. Patrons can also order vegetarian or meat-based starter platters.
Curries dominate the mains and cross the gambit from chops to fish roe, chicken and prawn, crab, tripe, trotters and homemade Mexican prawns. A handful of dishes come with a medium option, but most are served exceptionally hot, so be warned if chilli is not your forte.
The seafood curries are SQ, but reasonably priced and worth the 30-45 minute wait – these dishes are prepared fresh when ordered. All curries are served with rice or bread and rotis. Naan bread can be ordered as an extra.
Other dishes include toasted sandwiches with cheese and tomato or chicken and mayonnaise fillings, as well as more heartier options like broad beans, sugar beans or mutton curry. Roti rolls also feature, with fillings mimicking the toasted sandwiches and curries, but also including another Durban staple – chips and cheese.
Desserts reflect Durban’s cross-cultural dining experiences with chocolate brownies, red velvet cake, malva pudding or vanilla ice cream appealing to those not accustomed to Indian after-dinner delights. For those wanting to end their meal with more traditional fare, there’s soji (semolina fried in butter, cooked with special ingredients and served with cream and almonds) and burfee (Indian sweetmeats) ice cream.
A children’s menu caters for the younger set, while minimal breakfast options feature a bowl of Cornflakes and various egg dishes.
There is a very poor wine list dominated by Distell products, but beer on tap as well as cooldrinks, coffees, teas and brightly coloured milkshakes are all available. Beer tends to match better with curry anyway.
Service can be erratic. Sometimes tables aren’t cleared and food takes a noticeable time to come from the kitchen. Several patrons have also complained about poor service and rudeness, but that was not a personal experience.
There are no airs or graces here, with the Britannia Hotel being unashamedly a working person’s venue. The main dining room can be cramped when busy and the smoking dining room is dominated by a large-screen television for showing sports. None of this detracts from the experience.
Eat with your hands. That is the traditional way for eating Indian curries and cuisine. You’d be in the minority not to personally embrace this wholly sensual experience.
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