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Ile Maurice Restaurant

Ile Maurice Restaurant
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Cost
R195 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance
Food
Mauritian, Seafood
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Nicola Ashe

Food
Ile Maurice celebrates 40 years in Durban in 2016 and remains the stalwart of French-Mauritian cuisine in the city. The menu has a heavy focus on seafood, with foie gras and cuisses de grenouille (frog’s legs) on offer, for those after authentic French dishes.

Soups and salads offer delicious iterations, with the soupe de crabe a highlight, packed with freshly shelled Mozambican crab meat, simmered in a tomato-based soup.

Entrées include freshly-shelled crab, simmered in béchamel sauce and served in its shell, as well as beignets de crevettes – lightly battered prawns, deep-fried and served with peri-peri and sweet-and-sour sauce. You’ll also find oysters and escargots on the menu, but don’t overlook the camembert aux amandes – a deliciously oozy deep-fried camembert round, crumbed with almonds and sesame seeds, served with red currant jelly and melba toast.

Line fish could include kingklip or Chilean sea bass – a species of cod icefish only found in cold waters, between depths of 45m and 3850m – about the same depth your pocket needs to be to pay for a portion of around 200g at R345. It’s lightly pan fried in butter and lemon, and served with nothing else but a sprig of dill, to celebrate its flavour. Although tasty, it felt a tad overhyped and overpriced.

All fish dishes are SQ and the rest of the mains menu is pricey, so expect to be surrounded by tourists and retirees with disposable income and a healthy exchange rate. Meat dishes include lamb, beef, oxtail, duck and rabbit, as well as signature Ile Maurice dishes including fish vindaye, spiced with turmeric, garlic and ginger, cooked with baby onions and a variety of flavoursome line fish or shellfish Mauritian curry dishes.

Drinks
An elaborate wine list includes local wines, as well as imported French and Italian blends, but again, be prepared to pay for the privilege of drinking them. Specialty whisky and cognac is also available.

Service
Polite and attentive, but not intrusive with good knowledge of the dishes. The heavy French accent of our waiter made everything sound extra delicious.

Ambience
Cosy indoor or verandah tables, set with flowing tablecloths and wicker chairs, give off a private-island vibe, which is enhanced with myriad palm-print cushions and beautiful artworks.

And…
Sit outside on a warm evening and enjoy a beautiful view towards the sea and Umhlanga promenade.

(September 2016)

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

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  • Shirley Berko

    Food
    Ile Maurice has been a Durban institution for nearly 40 years, from its original spot on Aliwal Street in 1976, then known as St Geran, to its current well-known iteration. With the kitchen originally helmed by the legendary Madame Elsie Mauvis, who only hung up her apron at 90 years of age, the restaurant carved out its own niche for haute French Mauritian cuisine. In August 2015 a new chef, Paul Eaton, took over the reins. He continues to cook from the established and revered recipes but is introducing some new ones. The menu has a seafood focus, as well as offering select dishes not easily found in Durban, including opulent starters such as Cuisse de Grenouilles (frogs’ legs, prepared in a garlic and herb sauce), foie gras and Iranian, Russian and French caviars. And as these ingredients suggest, the menu pricing is matched accordingly. If you plan to go, start saving now. The majority of the menu is priced as ‘SQ’. We enjoyed starters of crab soup, a tomato-based soup with a generous helping of crab meat, served in a shelled crab, as well the Chardonnay French onion soup. One of Paul’s new additions, a Scottish smoked salmon layered with tomato and avo and drizzled with a lemon and fennel aioli, offers a fresh and tasty way to kick off a rich meal. It readies the palate for the heavier experience to follow. Oysters are available as well, although they are some of the priciest in Durban, at R24 a half shell. Their bouillabaisse, often mentioned, is served Mauritian style, with lentils on the side, as well as a bowl of rice. The dish appears, upon arrival, deceptively small, but it’s packed with king prawns, Saldanha mussels, langoustines and line fish, and cooked in a crab soup base. It was incredibly rich, as well as a little too salty – it could have used a touch of acidity to balance things. Historically, a bouillabaisse should have saffron, fennel and some citrus - it’s one of the differentiators from a regular seafood soup or stew. But in this instance, if those ingredients were present, they were heavily overpowered by the shellfish flavour. It tasted, essentially, like the crab soup that we had tried for the starter, with added shellfish and line fish added in. A bit disappointing for R275. The Filet en Croute comprises a pastry-encased beef fillet, served tender and pink. It’s the sophisticated Beef Wellington and proves satisfactory. Desserts include classics like crêpe suzette and crème brûlée. Fans of the former should know it is served without ice cream here, so if you’re after that creamy and cool kick to balance the citric sweetness, you’ll have to order it separately.

    Drinks
    Leave your car keys as a deposit at the door if you are navigating the wine list. It’s varied and boasts vintages and blends from France, Italy and our local shores. The prices are for the dollared tourist trade. A bottle of Warwick First Lady, for example, will cost exactly double what it will at a nearby venue up the road.

    Service
    Service is swift and well-informed. Chef Paul comes out and chats with the diners after the meal – a nice personal touch.

    Ambience
    Wicker chairs with palm prints and tables draped with white linen hint at the colonial island heritage of the menu. The verandah overlooks a bit of the ocean and some palm trees, echoing the décor, and on a warm evening with a light breeze, you shouldn’t sit anywhere else.

    And ...
    Complimentary, ice cold Limoncello shots are offered as a post-meal apértif.

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    The if-it-ain’t-broken-don’t-fix-it philosophy applies here, and there is some comfort to be had in a menu that hasn’t changed for decades. Seafood is prepared with aplomb and great care is taken to source only top-quality ingredients like the outstanding langoustine, which are simply grilled and served with Creole rice. Other signature dishes are gratin de crabe, consisting of fresh crab, shelled and simmered in a light béchamel sauce; line fish baked and topped with a coconut milk and tomato based sauce; and, when available, the well-known Mauritian dish of vindaye, a tempting meal of fresh fish, turmeric, garlic, ginger and baby onions. Traditional French dishes like frogs’ legs, rabbit, escargot (snails) and duck a l’orange also feature. As for desserts, the crème brûlée is very possibly the best in town.

    Drinks
    The superlative selection will placate even the fussiest palate. The award-winning list is an extensive, well-balanced representation of South Africa’s iconic and highly regarded wines. A range of Champagne and French wine is also included.

    Service
    Omnipresent owners dispense French charm to an appreciative audience and oversee the waiters. Service is taken very seriously. As one would expect in this kind of environment, staff are discreet, prompt and pre-emptive.

    Ambience
    You’ll find a classy restaurant with a quiet air of colonial sophistication. Tables are dressed traditionally, draped in white tablecloths and adorned with a single rose, and the walls are decorated by framed palm prints and photos of Mauritius. Tables on the covered outside balcony are sought after as you can both see and smell the Indian Ocean for there.

    And…
    They offer function rooms and menus for special occasions.

    (August 2014)

  • An old-school restaurant experience and some of the best authentic Mauritian cuisine in South Africa. It’s on the pricey side and it’s tricky to get a reservation, but it is well worth the effort. Stand-out dishes: kingfish vindaye and line fish with tomato sauce infused with coconut milk, black lentils and rice. (EO mag 2014)
  • Food
    Classic French dishes are overshadowed by subtly spiced and fragranced Mauritian cuisine. Seafood is integral and undisputed favourites include the line fish cooked in coconut milk with tomato, onion, garlic and coriander, and the traditional vindaye dish of barracuda or yellowtail tempered with turmeric, garlic and ginger then cooked with baby onions.

    Wine
    An impeccable list is dominated by iconic South African wines.

    Service
    Owner Robert Mauvis lavishly dispenses French charm and is backed up by a proficient, discreet and well-trained team.

    Ambience
    Some comfort can be drawn from the décor having remained unchanged for years; a quiet air of colonial sophistication still prevails. Sea views from the veranda rival the more formal interior.

    And...
    Arrive a little early and have a cocktail at the adjacent bar. (TG, October 2011)

User reviews

  • My parents have been going to Ile Maurice from its inception in Durban Town (when it was called St Geran). As vegetarians we have had the same meal, starters to end for over 30 years. Every time the quality of food is superb. Still my all time favourite restaurant.
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  • The French cuisine and experience of dining in the finest restaurant in Durban remains the benchmark in Durban. The food is exquisite and well matched to an excellent wine collection. A great evening guaranteed.

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  • Ile Maurice, You must either have been arrogant, ignorant or just plain rude! The restaurant compared to any other is in a league of its own. The food is incredible. That being said, I don’t know if you are aware but they are still humans preparing the meals, not automated chefs, so mistakes are bound to happen as Im sure even you yourself make on a daily basis. Its patrons like you that expect the world then still complain about the price, I would have done the same and thrown you out, as your support is defintely not needed. There are plenty of well educated people out there able to enjoy the finer, delicious things in life and willing to pay a little extra. I myself have had a bad meal there, but love the whole experience and atmosphere, plus the food is amazing and the owners a pleasure to converse with. Even on its worst day it’s still far better than any of the mediocre restaurants Im sure you love and enjoy.
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  • We had a bad meal between four of us on Friday 24 October. After complaining to the owner. He verbally attacked us and threw us out of his restaurant. He told us to never come back again which is fine because at those prices for that disgusting quality... I wont be returning. The waiter was good though.
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  • We have visited Ile Maurice on a number of occasions over the last 6 years. The food is sublime, especially my favourite the rabbit. Service is always impeccable and the host very attentive. I shall be in Durban at the end of June and shall certainly visit again.
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  • Despite the negative user reviews posted a while ago, we decided to give this quirky restaurant a go. What a lovely evening out! To go with the French Mauritian theme, we ordered the prawn and chicken curry and grilled rabbit with fries. Expensive (R40 starter, R125 main) but completely memorable. They have also put a lot of effort into their (quite pricey) winelist. The old-school décor (think long-stemmed red rose in glass vase) and French music helped things along nicely. The service was on the slow, forgetful side but its all laid-back, island-style grandeur and greatness. Do yourself a favour.
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  • On 30 march we had a booking and arrived about 30 minutes early as we wanted to show our friends from france the beautifull view of the ocean from the restaurant.we asked the manager if we could sit on the deck and have a bottle of wine and we were told that the restaurant was not open yet and we should come back later.20 minutes later when we came back people were already being served.we never saw the manager again that night although he even came and spoke to the table next door.
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  • The service was shocking and everything was over- priced. R95 for a vegeterian dish???
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Menu

Set menu - Menu - Updated 2017

Facilities

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

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