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Freedom Café

Freedom Café
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Cost
R75 avg main meal
Ambience
Comfy & casual
Food
Mediterranean, Modern
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
500

Critic's review

Nicola Ashe

Food
Neil Roake conceptualised this inspired eatery and designed the menu originally meant to serve the hotel guests at the adjacent Concierge Boutique Bungalows. It became a stalwart on the breakfast and lunch scene over the last few years under Lucy Marcewicz, but now it’s back under Neil’s control and, along with a stylish revamp and updated menu, it’s cementing itself as the place to enjoy a long lazy meal, or a quick coffee date with friends.

Some menu favourites have been retained, but overall it’s had a major overhaul, with the addition of a few Benedict toppings for breakfast, like chakalaka, and some delicious toasted bread options, including the ABC: toasted artisan bread topped with avo, biltong dust, cucumber, sesame seeds, rosa tomatoes and yoghurt curd. Health nuts will appreciate the steel-cut oats, ancient granola or fresh fruit and yoghurt, as well as freshly squeezed ‘robot’ juices – red, orange and green.

The lunch menu is comprised of salads, burgers, wraps, soups and sandwiches, but there’s nothing pedestrian about their iterations. Think kimchi mayo beef burger with furikake fries, or a falafel burger served with tomato chilli jam. The KFC is nothing like the name suggests, rather offering a delicious bowl of twice-fried Korean chicken wings smothered in a spicy gochujang sauce (red chilli, rice, soybeans and salt) – extremely moreish. Vietnamese summer rolls are a crowd pleaser, filled with beetroot, feta, avo, coriander with nuoc cham dipping sauce and you can add plump prawns for a more substantial meal. The pulled pork burrito bowl is delicious, cooked in cola and served with avo, pico di gallo, black beans and wild brown rice with tomato chilli jam on the side.

A small dessert menu includes a sublime koeksister ice cream, which will have you licking the bowl.

Drinks
The drinks menu will have you smacking your lips, with a boozy selection of vermouth and gin mixes garnished with ingredients like juniper berries and rosemary, or a tequila sunrise served with chargrilled orange. Local and international distilleries are represented, along with a small selection of red and white wines offered by the glass or bottle.

Service
Servers are friendly and efficient in their brightly coloured traditional African print shirts, but service can be haphazard during busy periods.

Ambience
The perfect place to sip on a negroni or Aperol spritz cocktail and while away the day under the leafy courtyard trees. Or sit inside the red shipping container and admire the clever décor touches.

And…
The space is available for private functions, with a variety of flexible options to accommodate small intimate occasions, or a party for up to 80 people.

(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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  • Nikita Buxton

    A recent change in ownership at this much-loved arty café has resulted in a bit of a revamp for the menu and décor. Freedom Café still boasts its quirky charm, but the new team has added even more designer flair to this Greyville spot.

    Food
    The menu is divided into breakfast and lunch options. Vibrant sounding dishes come in all forms for many cravings: Fresh, chilled, comforting, spicy, wrapped, sandwiched, and between two burger buns. If you want to start off snacking, there’s a section dedicated to nibbles with olives, nuts and chicken pâté.

    For something light, fresh and full of colour and flavour, go for the Vietnamese summer rolls. The rice paper wraps are filled with plump prawns, beetroot, feta, avo, spinach and coriander, and served with a fiery hot nuoc cham dip (made up of chilli, lime and lemongrass).

    Sandwiches are hearty, and can easily be shared between two for a light lunch. The pressed pulled pork sandwich is hard to resist. It’s filled all the right flavour combos: flavoursome shredded pork, tangy pickled onion, and a spicy jalapeño and pico di gallo relish. The bread is buttery and golden – no surprise, really, coming as it does from the team at Glenwood Bakery.

    To finish off, there's a small offering of sweet jars and cakes. The hefty wedge of lemon vanilla cake is moist and topped with a creamy icing. It’s perfect for sharing with a cup of coffee.

    Drinks
    The drinks list is concise but well thought out.  There are some interesting wine options (all offered by the glass) and a selection of local gins, spirits and funky cocktails.  Non-alcoholic options include freshly pressed juices and organically sourced Ugandan and Ethiopian coffee that’s roasted weekly.

    Service
    The shweshwe-clad staff are polite and full of smiles; however, on the occasion of our visit they seemed quite distracted and elusive.

    Ambience
    The newly revamped space still boasts its vibrant red container, but there are some new additions to the style and décor. The light interior has more seating and is decorated in fresh leafy greens and earthy browns. Al fresco eating is a must on sunny days; the back terrace is shaded in Durban’s finest foliage and adorned with Consol-jar candles. It’s one of the prettiest spots for a lazy lunch.

    And…
    Located at the arty Concierge Boutique Hotel, Freedom Café is the ideal spot for a function or party, with several spaces to accommodate guests as well as flexible dining options.

    (May 2016)

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Like the setting, the menu is an anomaly. It takes inspiration from comfort food, Asian flavours, the classics and everything in between. Revel in breakfasts like eggs benedict on homemade bâtard (French bread) topped with wilted baby spinach, poached eggs and hollandaise, or zucchini fritters served on rocket with mushrooms and a creamy parmesan sauce. Try the fresh flavours of shaved cucumber wrapped around greens, capers, avo, salmon gravalax and feta with honey mustard dressing, or delve into the pleasures of slow-cooked pulled pork served on a brioche bun. Local flavours are recognised with the Durban burger – a spicy chicken breast topped with a pineapple and chilli salsa. Owner Lucy Markewicz also runs the Cake Lab so look out for mouth-watering baked goods.

    Drinks
    The perfunctory wine list offers sufficient choice for a daytime rendezvous. Shakes, spiked shakes, smoothies, cocktails and craft beer add considerable clout to the collection.

    Service
    Waiters are helpful when focused on the task at hand but can become distracted. That said, they are friendly, well versed in the menu and happily accommodate idiosyncrasies.

    Ambience
    A quirky creative space where a converted container forms the nucleus. It is home to the coffee bar, which is also used to display delicious cakes and a small dining area, but it’s the al fresco tables that are sought after. Tables are scattered under the trees between the container and old outbuilding that serves as a kitchen and make the most of Durban’s balmy weather.

    And…
    Breakfast is served all day.

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Freedom Café is, thankfully, the kind of place that serves all-day breakfasts. Choices abound, but the buttermilk pancake stack makes for a wicked start to the day. Other options include the always-delicious zucchini fritters served on a bed of rocket and topped with mushrooms, a creamy parmesan sauce and a poached egg. Dishes are light, fresh and flavourful, and there is a noticeable Asian influence in dishes like the prawn roll served with nuoc cham dipping sauce and Vietnamese vegetable rolls in rice paper. The pulled pork served on a brioche bun with hand cut fries is the ultimate comfort food, or opt for modern classics like a New Yorker hotdog.

    Drinks 
    The succinct wine list is white-dominated and covers most bases; all wines are available by the glass. There is a smattering of craft beer and some delicious cocktails. Non-alcoholic drinks take the form of smoothies and an extensive tea and coffee menu.

    Service
    Waiters are friendly, helpful and well versed in the menu, if sometimes a little sluggish. Getting through on the phone can become an exercise in patience. Food is prepared with relish, but is done so in a small kitchen – so soak up the vibe, as orders may take a bit longer than the instant-gratification crowd is used to.

    Ambience
    It’s as much an urban hangout as it is a restaurant. The contemporary space revolves around a converted shipping container. Outside tables nestle under the trees in a quirky courtyard, making it a great spot to enjoy the city’s balmy weather.

    And…
    Don’t overlook the delicious baked goods.

    (July 2014)

  • Grab a coffee and pastry or something more substantial like lamb tagine or smoked ribs at this vibey spot. Zany décor features wallpaper, mirrors and lights. (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    Former owner of Vanilla Café and owner of Lucy's Cake Shop, Lucy Markewicz brings her culinary skills to this container restaurant in the garden of one of Durban’s newest boutique hotels. Breakfasts include the usual takes on Benedict or super-fluffy organic scrambled eggs. At tea-time, you’re invited to some of the best baking in Durban, while lunches are light and leisurely.

    Wine
    A chilled list, compact, quaffable and accessible to the ladies who lunch.

    Service
    Young, manicured and competent.

    Ambience
    It’s the funkiest ‘mjondolo’ in town, with zany wallpapers, baroque mirrors and beaded lights inside. Spill out under the trees with herbs in brightly coloured plastic Dachshund troughs. Certainly a talking point!

    And...
    This is one of the trendiest spots to been sitting sipping a latte and digging into decadent pastries. They have bi-monthly specials, so pop by and check them out. (FC, October 2012)

User reviews

  • Quirky  little spot with delicious breakfast and lunch options. The fish cakes are a winning dish!

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  • Very cool!
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  • Great set up, but the unfriendly service, lukewarm drinks and incomplete order made it a very disappointing experience. The saving grace was the friendly car guard!
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  • I was really impressed with the layout and decor of the cafe, it created a cool atmosphere. The concept is great.
    However, the service was not the best. Firstly, we waited about 20min to get our drinks and had to eventually flag down a waiter to take our food order after waiting another 30min. It wasn't even particularly busy.
    My friends ordered burgers which were delicious.
    I ordered the pulled chicken taco which actually ended up being a chicken tortilla. I wasn't impressed.

    I wrote a comment on their Facebook wall which they then deleted. In my opinion, very unprofessional.

    It's a shame that a café with such a great concept, great dishes and full of potential can be overshadowed by bad service and an apathetic attitude towards well-meaning customers.

    Needless to say, I will not be returning.
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  • They have the most heavenly carrot cake...worth every cent. Oh and juicy burgers minus the grease.

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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dog-friendly
  • Eat Out reviewed
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian
  • WiFi

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