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.
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.
Polite and attentive, but not intrusive with good knowledge of the dishes. The heavy French accent of our waiter made everything sound extra delicious.
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.
Sit outside on a warm evening and enjoy a beautiful view towards the sea and Umhlanga promenade.
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