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The Chefs Table

The Chefs Table
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Cost
R190
Ambience
Contemporary cool
Food
Contemporary fare, Country-style fare, Modern
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R85 (wine); R120 (MCC); R200 (French)

Critic's review

Nicola Ashe

Food
Chef Kayla-Ann Osborn was named the Eat Out Rising Star at the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards, an accolade for young promising talent on the restaurant scene. Her menu at The Chefs Table is intended to change frequently in order to celebrate the best of local farmers’ seasonal produce, but you’re guaranteed a selection of both land and sea ingredients, cooked well and presented beautifully.

A salmon pâté amuse-bouche will be served while you peruse the menu, which on this occasion includes a selection of seafood starters: local oysters served with apple and chilli oil; a popular prawn-and-squid dish with a lemon-and-ginger reduction, served with tomato dust; and a portion of three salmon tortellini, which come drenched in delicious lemon cream and topped with mussel foam.

Other starters include a roast lamb rib and smoked marrow bone dish, with a sensational intensity of flavour I have yet to experience elsewhere. It is accompanied by a wedge of mint jelly and jewels of pickled yellow onion – an inspired combination I will definitely go back for.

Main course dishes focus predominantly on red meat, with the 300g wood-fired Waygu sirloin, served with potato rösti, roasted tomato compote, gremolata emulsion, baby veg and garlic butter, recommended by our waiter. We opt to share the wood-fired prawns served with garlic butter foam and a side dish of spicy basmati rice and lentils. These are the hero of the entire evening: fat and juicy and cooked to perfection. We have juice running down our hands and there is not one scrap left – just a bowl of empty shells that have been sucked dry. Tastier prawns I have yet to find in South Africa!

Other proteins on offer included black Angus sirloin, a Merrivale fillet, pork belly, lamb rack and a rolled baby chicken served with cauliflower, raisin, ricotta gnocchi, local amaranthus and chicken jus. Vegetarians are catered for with truffled mushroom ravioli, and parmesan-and-thyme gnocchi served with butternut cream apple, feta, pumpkin seeds and gastrique.

Leave space for a posset featuring textures of lemon – caramelised rind, lemon cream and deconstructed lemon meringue – and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds and a dollop of rich vanilla ice cream. (You will want to lick the bowl.) The other option might be 'P.S. I Love You', which celebrates both salty and sweet, with layers of wafer and white Valrhona Dulcey Blond chocolate, decadent caramel and sea salt. A local cheeseboard and two other decadent chocolate desserts are also available, and the bill is presented with petit-fours – just in case you aren't ready to explode!

Drinks
There is a vast selection of both imported and local wine and bubbles, including vintage Champagne with a price tag to tempt those with a trust fund. There’s also a succinct cocktail menu, with a special gin list including some delightful South African variants. (It’s great to see Durban’s own 031 Distillery Gin make an appearance.)

Ambience
From the minute you sit down to take in the central open-plan kitchen with adjoining dining areas, both indoor and outdoor as well as a separate private dining room, you’re captivated by subtle attention to detail, right from the consideration of the crockery and cutlery to the generously sized leather chairs and velvet-covered benches. Exposed brick and concrete give the space an industrial vibe, but it’s not cold and uninviting; this rather adds to the drama of the space and the atmosphere is electric.

Service
Kitchen service is slick and professional, with a delightful chorus of ‘yes chef’ signalling the call of a new order. Table service is friendly and mostly efficient, but lacks consistency, with menu explanation and ingredient description not well communicated and plates taking a while to be cleared.

And…
Look out for wine-pairing and -tasting evenings, which allow you to experience a considered five- or seven-course menu of delicious wines and seasonal produce.

(August 2017)

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

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  • Trushka Soni

    Food
    Started by head chef and visionary Kayla-Ann Osborn and her team of qualified super chefs, The Chef’s Table is a place where you eat with your eyes first. The meals are seasonal, simple and fresh, and the menu changes daily. The open-plan kitchen is the main attraction of the restaurant as you watch the chefs prepare exquisite dishes made with high-quality local produce. It’s a foodie’s paradise with that MasterChef feeling.

    The day’s starters showcase roasted pumpkin tortellini, smooth and velvet parcels served in a rich bacon cream, drizzled with bacon powder and topped with a stick of bacon biltong. The flavour combinations are exceptional: smooth, creamy, a slight crunch from the biltong powder and a superb balance of salty and sweet. Another standout starter is Greenfield’s roasted bone marrow with slow-braised beef tongue, gremolata, sweet mustard and sourdough.

    The main meals from the bar include wood-fired swordfish served with rustic mash, fresh mussels, lemon aioli, charred naartjie and bouillabaisse broth. The fish is tender and juicy, showcasing simple flavours and hearty textures, with the charred naartjie giving a beautiful dash of vibrant orange colour. Also recommended is the Moores-Pitt free-range baby chicken with a rice mushroom farce, tarragon gnocchi, cauliflower florets, a creamy garlic emulsion and mushroom jus. The Merriducks confit and breast duo is a real treat, too, incorporating cherries, braised red cabbage, fresh apple and fennel salad, served with quince, pea purée and salted caramel apple.

    Dessert is fun and decadent, featuring the likes of chocolate popcorn: A sphere of chocolate with a cream-infused centre, garnished with crushed chocolate and popcorn, and served with a lightly favoured mint ice cream.

    Drinks
    The drinks menu mirrors the ethos of the kitchen, emphasising local treasures. A truly vast selection of South African wines has been carefully selected to represent the best from many provinces. Try the Cape Point sauvignon blanc or the Creation pinot noir from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.

    The restaurant also sports a walk-in wine cellar, which showcases a stunning selection of vintage wines and champagnes, presented by a sommelier. Cocktails are seasonal, with each creation unique to the day’s produce. The current hit is a beetroot Bloody Mary.

    Service
    Chefs are polite, friendly and engaging. The waiters are pleasant, but could be better trained; luckily the kind restaurant manager fills the gaps.

    Ambience
    The Chef’s Table is airy and open, with greenery giving freshness to the restaurant. The space is elegantly decorated with some rustic touches in décor and dishes.

    And…
    Take an enlightening moment to watch the chefs do what they do best.

    (September 2016)

    Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.

User reviews

  • 5 November, 2017 Four of us went to Chef's Table for my Birthday on Sunday, what a treat! We had the most superb meal and it was everything it was set out to be from their website, stipulating such fresh produce! The service was fantastic and I so enjoyed meeting Kayla Osborne, the chef. Thank you Kayla and your staff for making my day so special and for my Birthday cake!!
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  • I had been itching to try this place out the minute I heard about it and finally got to with a group of friends on a Saturday night. The concept of fine dining isn't really that well executed by restaurants in Durban so it was really refreshing to try a spot that didn't disappoint. The only gripe were the cocktails. Not particularly well done, with one needing to be sent back for somehow having salt but into it. The food however was good. The mushroom starter did however sound a lot more exciting than it actually was, I did expect a lot more broth than what was plated, but it was tasty. The lamb was definitely one of the most well carried out and plated lamb dishes I've ordered at a restaurant. Perfectly cooked and well flavoured. We didn't stay for dessert however I will definitely do so the next time I visit. Overall a pleasant experience.
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  • Having heard many good things about the Chefs Table and as a very old friend of ours was going back to the UK to live we decided to spoil her by taking her to this well recommended restaurant. It was very busy when we arrived to take up our reservation and the general atmosphere seemed very cheerful. I was the only one to have a starter and as I am partial to oysters chose the Wild Coast Oysters. I was very disappointed in them as priced at R22 each I expected something substantial. They were very small in content although some of the shells were large. I chose the rack of lamb as a main course and although I did enjoy it once again I thought that paying R197 for basically 2 lamb chops was rather excessive. My wife and friend chose the rolled baby chicken and were both very laudatory about the meal and enjoyed it immensely. Perhaps I am too critical in my appraisal but I do expect value for money and do not wish to pay just for snob appeal. Maybe I am a peasant at heart but nouvelle cuisine with a hint of this and that and drizzled in some sort of jus does not appeal to me. No side orders of chips or salad? What next. I doubt very much if I will ever dine there again but concentrate on restaurants where I can have a substantial meal for a fraction of the cost. Exotica is OK in it's place and the Chef's Table is the place for that if that is what you want.Contrary to other reviews our service was excellent and our waiter Enoch performed a first class role. Total cost for 3 people including 2 drinks for 2 people as one only drank water was R891 plus tip. Not your average night out. It was interesting to note that 1 family group arrived and after studying the menu took their leave. I wish I had.
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  • Wow, wow, wow!!! The attentive, engaging service from both wait staff (Lynda deserves a super special mention, you were AMAZING) and management Ayrton and Gary, your natural hosting skills are to be admired. The food was INCREDIBLE- the tasting menu is top notch. Top compliments to Chef. A gastronomic and service experience of note!!!
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  • This is the best restaurant I have been to in Natal, and is absolutely world class, with a London feel that I have not felt since I last dined at Nobu at London. Claude was our waiter, who was superb - the best service ever in South Africa - EVER. Our food was delicious, the interaction with the staff and management was brilliant - I cannot wait to return. Well done on a fine dining experience extraordinnaire.
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  • Truly fantastic food - the Duo of Lamb was perfectly cooked and every element on the plate complimented each other. The Borenkaas had such unique flavours and was so different. Brilliant service, especially considering it was during an incredibly busy time - the waitor was very attentive and knew the menu well. An excellent evening at Durban's best restaurant.
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  • We went on 20/12/16 for dinner wjhich was a hectic time of the holiday season - 4 adults 2 of whom from UK. Great atmosphere, busy, good energy and good waitress (Liesel). Only issue was food took + 1 hour to arrive, had to call on waitress to top up wine and my wife had steak which was average.
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  • The food at The Chefs Table is superb. I've been three times and I've been thrilled three times. Tonight I had the Tomahawk steak and it ranks in the top 3 steaks I've had. And the potato that accompanied the steak could maybe even be better. The decor is cool, the music selection way above the usual restaurant music variety and the atmosphere and energy created by the open plan kitchen is very special. The service, although improved, is still way below par. The bread was brought at exactly the same time as the starter. I asked if somebody got the timing wrong and was told that the bread is complimentary (i.e. Why are you moaning), and I had to actually convince my waiter that I can handle a rare steak (he was determined that I should have it medium-rare). Service notwithstanding, this restaurant is a must-visit. When the service is eventually able to match the rest of the offering this spot is going to rank right up there with the best in the country.
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  • Following up on my first review where I didn't even have the opportunity to experience Chefs Table they certainly outdid themselves in making it up to us. With a call from a manager we were invited back and given a voucher to enjoy a wonderful evening. Apologies were made and after tasting the incredible chefs food all was forgiven. The tomahawk steak was mind blowing as was the gnocchi. Service fantastic and beautiful decor to contribute to an excellent evening. Thanks for taking the time to rectify what went wrong. Much appreciated and now you get the five stars you all deserve.
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  • Following up on my first review where I didn't even have the opportunity to experience Chefs Table they certainly outdid themselves in making it up to us. With a call from a manager we were invited back and given a voucher to enjoy a wonderful evening. Apologies were made and after tasting the incredible chefs food all was forgiven. The tomahawk steak was mind blowing as was the gnocchi. Service fantastic and beautiful decor to contribute to an excellent evening. Thanks for taking the time to rectify what went wrong. Much appreciated and now you get the five stars you all deserve.
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  • Coming highly recommended from various people I was incredibly excited to take my boyfriend somewhere special for his birthday. I phoned in the afternoon and booked a table for 19h. Upon arrival we were told to wait at the bar while they prepared our table. After 20 minutes of waiting a waiter came to us and said we will be seated at the counter facing the kitchen and they'd be right back. Another 10 minutes of waiting I called the waiter and said I booked a table and not the counter. She left saying she'll be back. She didn't return. I went up to one of the thousand managers and asked exactly what the problem was. He said they had initially put us at the counter but seeing as I was unhappy they were trying to sort something out. I explained that I had booked a TABLE. This was my first time there and was not even aware that there was a counter. In future he should stipulate over the phone if you are happy to be put at the counter or not. He just looked at his feet. It was a special occasion with my boyfriend hence phoning ahead and booking a TABLE. After waiting for an HOUR with no one willingly communicating with us we left. Service was utterly appalling and I feel very sorry for the apparently magnificent chef because her team is letting her down disastrously. Get it together guys.
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  • 5 STARS for the chef and 1 star for the management and wait staff. I've been to the Chef's Table twice now and on both visits the food was EXCELLENT. Warning the Tomahawk steak is an absolute beast of a steak but the most delicious melt in your month steak you'll ever eat. My visits were both within a week and a half of each other and I'm glad to say that the chef delivered on her promise to change the menu almost daily based on local supply. Around my table the duck , lamb and beef fillet was also enjoyed. On each visit I had the best seats in the house, right in front of the kitchen and it definitely enhanced the experience. ( Request the blue couch seats when making your booking ). The only damper on my evening ( both visits ) was the service. While I understand that the restaurant is still new, it's clear that the wait staff are still finding their feet. For a fine dinning restaurant I would expect customer service to be at the highest level. The 4 or 5 managers that run the floor also provided useless when we had an issues.
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  • VERY PROFESSIONAL AND GREAT MEAL TO BE HAD REALLY WORTH THE TIME AND DIME WATRONS VERY POLITE AND TEAT U AS A PERSON NOT JUST ANOTHER PERSON WAKING IN THE DOOR
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  • The Chef's Table is located in the prime social location of Umhlanga. When I walked into The Chef's Table I felt as though I were in an episode of Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. The kitchen is open plan, the food presentation is fresh and the flavors were amazing. Another thing I loved about this unique restaurant, is that the menu changes daily and that they use local suppliers, which I feel is great since as a customer you get to taste something new everytime you visit. Limited menu, service was somewhat lacking (please note, when I visited they were only opened a week). Please enquire for photos.
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Menu

Set menu - Available on website

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • WiFi

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