Venues

The Ocean Terrace at the Oyster Box Hotel

The Ocean Terrace at the Oyster Box Hotel
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Cost
R200 avg main meal
Ambience
Contemporary cool
Food
Indian, Modern, South African
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
No BYO

Critic's review

Nicola Ashe

Food
Boasting some of Durban’s most magnificent views, The Ocean Terrace is the jewel in the crown of The Oyster Box Hotel. Guests, visitors and many a celebrity flock to the beautiful colonial venue for breakfast, lunch, drinks and dinner, where the emphasis is on style with a casual, family appeal.

The breakfast buffet includes oysters and bubbly, if that tickles your fancy, as well as a full English breakfast, with eggs made to order. Pancakes, crumpets and waffles will keep the kids – and some adults – happy.

The lunch and dinner menu features light café-style meals, including salads and pizzas, with more substantial appetites catered for with seafood and meat options. Lamb shank falls off the bone, served with garlic mash and honey-glazed carrots. The popular curry buffet showcases no less than 11 curries daily, with meat, fish and vegetarian options, but a traditional Durban lamb curry is a must, along with all the sambals – the lime-and-vegetable pickle is good enough to eat by itself. Home-cured citrus-scented salmon gravadlax is delicious with a summer salad, chive crème fraîche and capers, or have them fire up the oven and deliver a freshly wood-fired pizza to your table. Two tandoori ovens produce fresh naan and roti on site daily, as well as delicious tandoori chicken.

Drinks
You name it; you can drink it here. An extensive wine, cocktail, spirit and aperitif offering is available, from South Africa and abroad.

Service
Servers are polite and accommodating, but service can be a tad slow during busy periods. Buffet service allows you to determine the speed at which you eat most of your meals though and it’s to be admired that they have heaps of patience for young diners, whose eyes are bigger than their tummies and may go on to their second or third waffle.

Ambience
While away a morning, afternoon or evening under the slow-moving paddle fans indoors, or out on the terrace with that amazing Umhlanga lighthouse view.

And…
Book for a special occasion, and get a flighty fun red balloon; the kids will love it.

(September 2016)

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

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    The five star environment brings with it five star prices. Seafood is well represented, from the ubiquitous prawn cocktail to citrus and vodka salmon gravlax, beer battered fish and, of course, oysters. The menu also has a casual component that runs the gauntlet from a gourmet hotdog to Portuguese chicken and boerewors pizza. It is the curry buffet, however, that has become a culinary landmark for locals and foreigners. Over 11 curries appear daily, from local versions of lamb and chicken and prawn to classic interpretations of butter chicken and even a Singapore fish curry. The support act is also impressive – indulge in homemade pickles and chutneys, sambals, poppadoms, roti and freshly baked naan breads.

    Drinks
    You will just about find anything your heart desires. Classic and contemporary cocktails abound, as do quality wines (local and international) from the hotel’s extensive cellar.

    Service
    It’s not as slick as one might expect in this sumptuous environment. Waiters are pleasant and well intentioned but efficiency it not always a strong point.

    Ambience
    The actual terrace (which needs to be requested in advance) has white iron tables and chairs sitting under a festooned red awning. With breathtaking sea and pool views, it’s more reminiscent of languishing on the deck of a cruise liner. The crisp interior offers wickers chairs, latticework and lazy paddle fans in white, while intricate tiles and large brass light fittings lend a Moorish feel.

    And…
    Arrive early for cocktails in the upstairs Lighthouse Bar.

    (September 2015)

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    The five star environment brings with it five star prices. Seafood is well represented, from the ubiquitous prawn cocktail to citrus and vodka salmon gravlax, beer battered fish and, of course, oysters. The menu also has a casual component that runs the gauntlet from a gourmet hotdog to Portuguese chicken and boerewors pizza. It is the curry buffet, however, that has become a culinary landmark for locals and foreigners. Over 11 curries appear daily, from local versions of lamb and chicken and prawn to classic interpretations of butter chicken and even a Singapore fish curry. The support act is also impressive – indulge in homemade pickles and chutneys, sambals, poppadoms, roti and freshly baked naan breads.

    Drinks
    You will just about find anything your heart desires. Classic and contemporary cocktails abound, as do quality wines (local and international) from the hotel’s extensive cellar.

    Service
    It’s not as slick as one might expect in this sumptuous environment. Waiters are pleasant and well intentioned but efficiency it not always a strong point.

    Ambience
    The actual terrace (which needs to be requested in advance) has white iron tables and chairs sitting under a festooned red awning. With breathtaking sea and pool views, it’s more reminiscent of languishing on the deck of a cruise liner. The crisp interior offers wickers chairs, latticework and lazy paddle fans in white, while intricate tiles and large brass light fittings lend a Moorish feel.

    And…
    Arrive early for cocktails in the upstairs Lighthouse Bar.

  • Tracy Gielink

    Food
    Seafood is well represented, from the ubiquitous prawn cocktail to citrus-and-vodka salmon gravlax, beer-battered fish and, of course, oysters.

    The menu also has a casual component that runs the gauntlet from gourmet hotdogs to Portuguese chicken and boerewors pizza.

    It’s the curry buffet, however, that has become a culinary landmark for locals and foreigners. Over 11 curries appear daily, from local versions of lamb, chicken and prawn to classic interpretations of butter chicken and even a Singaporean fish curry.

    The support acts are also impressive: indulge in homemade pickles and chutneys, sambals, poppadoms, roti and freshly baked naan breads.

    The five-star environment does brings with it five-star prices, however.

    Drinks
    You will be able to find just about anything your heart desires. Classic and contemporary cocktails abound, as do quality wines (local and international) from the hotel’s extensive cellar.

    Service
    It’s not as slick as one might expect in this sumptuous environment. Waiters are pleasant and well intentioned, but efficiency it not always a strong point.

    Ambience
    The actual terrace, with seats that need to be requested in advance, features white iron tables and chairs under a festooned red awning. With breathtaking sea and pool views, it’s more reminiscent of languishing on the deck of a cruise liner. The crisp interior offers wickers chairs, latticework and lazy paddle fans in white, while intricate tiles and large brass light fittings lend a Moorish feel.

    And…
    Arrive early for cocktails in the upstairs Lighthouse Bar.

    (July 2015)

  • Food
    Breakfasts are sumptuous and lunches light and beautifully prepared. Expect the likes of a classic club sandwich, baby beetroot salad, seafood baskets, fish and chips, or even mini cheeseburgers. As expected, fresh – or drunken – oysters make their appearance. Classic prawn cocktail, butter-basted langos and a range of lighter grills complete the picture. But the real cognoscenti here go for the stupendous curry buffet. The selection is vast, the spicing all different, and the condiments and pickles awesome.

    Wine
    A five-star list for a five-star establishment. Maybe not quite as extensive as the full Grill Room wine list, but there are plenty of mouth-watering vintages from which to choose. Pimms and good old-fashioned gin and tonics are perfect for sundowners on warm summer evenings.

    Service
    Good, efficient, discreet and always at hand – exactly as it should be.

    Ambience
    The ambience is cool and summery. Relax outside around the pool and drink in the spectacular views. You’ll feel like you’re on the deck of a very grand ocean liner. An ideal spot to treat first-time visitors to Durban.

    And...
    The curry buffet offers good value for money, and the Singapore fish curry is particularly memorable. (FC, October 2012)

User reviews

  • Dear All Just had the most horrible fish and chips this afternoon. (28th November 2014) at the The Ocean Terrace The Oyster Box Hotel. The three of us ordered fish and chips but the thick hake pieces was cold and not cooked through. The only 2 things that was nice was the chips and salad they sent with it. It is bad to pay R155 for a plate of chips and you cant even have a decent piece of fish to go with it. Please be so kind as to take this matter up with your kitchen staff as they didn't check the fish before serving it to the hotel and outside hotel guests. Regards Johan le Roux
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food
  • There are very few times in life when I find myself giggling with delight for any length of time at all. Our visit to the Oyster Box Hotel’s Ocean Terrace restaurant had me in stitches of pure joy. This was my first visit to the little town of Umhlanga, just North of Durban City. A smart little drive from our B&B took us practically side by side with the shoreline to the prettiest little town I’ve seen since Knysna. And then we did it, we got lost. Something this amusingly special you can only expect from someone who actually lives in a small town. I mean really, how does that happen in a modern age, with GPS and everything? It happens when your GPS reckons that your hotel destination is in fact a block away in a shopping centre parking lot. Oh dear. Fortunately for us, Umhlanga is really quite a small town, so a block later we found our destination: The Oyster Box Hotel.

    You know you’re in for a fabulously indulgent afternoon when the staff at the security boom and his colleagues in the parking area are all wearing matching khaki short uniforms, Livingstone safari style hats and little red carnations tucked in their name tags. Oh my. Directed to our parking by no less than three attendants similarly attired. So we took a moment to sit in the car and figure out if it would be appropriate to find a spot for hubby to have a smoke, or if we should just hide in the car and have a puff there before mincing in through the red carpet adorned wood swing door entrance of the hotel. We opted out of hiding, since we are adventurers at heart after all (Livingstone himself would have approved), and were directed to the Chukka Bar by one of the three bellhops.

    There are a few things I really do love, and one of them is a beautiful colonial style smoking room. And this is where we ended up. Leather seating, wood panel, Polo sport adorned walls and a most friendly bar tender concerned with our every well being. We were a bit sorry to have to leave the Chukka Bar, but our reservation time was approaching, and I hate to be late, so off we went to the red carpet entrance to the hotel.


    The décor inside the Oyster Box hotel is luxurious combination of colonial beauty filled with flowers, curved lines, polish and sparkle with reflective surfaces and light that dances from windows and exquisite chandeliers. The Ocean Terrace itself is a spacious seating area filled with classy pure white wicker garden furniture with green accent cushioning. Not a very private setting unless you are able to get one of the booths. We were told by our servers that the hotel was opened in 1947 and was also recently revamped. The original tile details are the only thing that remain of the old Hotel, a lovely sentiment.

    Service at the Oyster Box Hotel and the Ocean Terrace is deserving of its five stars. Our booking was not only confirmed by email but we also received a phone call that morning final confirmation for our booking. I liked that. I suppose that some may find that annoying, I, however, appreciated the effort and was glad that we were all on the same page and that our trip, detour and all, was on track.

    Our server was not only knowledgeable about the menu, but about Durban cuisine in general. I related a story to him about a “curry joint” my dad had taken us to as children and have been unable to find. Our server was able to give me the name of the place and informed me that sadly it had closed many years ago.

    At least we can say that although my childhood curry experience has now made way for a new favourite. The Curry Buffet at the Ocean Terrace is incredibly popular. Set out at the far end of the terrace, the curries on offer include a number of vegetarian options (lentil, bean and chickpea), chicken, lamb, mutton, beef, and right at the very end, stands the King of Curries: The Beef Vindaloo. R250 per person for this lunch, I would highly recommend that you come hungry.

    The menu at the Oyster box Ocean Terrace sports a lovely variety to suite almost any palette. Since we had a dinner arrangement later that evening we decided to be frugal with the tummy space and order a light lunch. Hubby took on Fettuccini pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce.

    I was incredibly tempted to try the Curry buffet. After telling the dad curry story, I just wanted to sample everything and the curry buffet really offered me a chance to sample each and every one at a very reasonable price. But, as I said before, we had arrangements and I needed to think with my head and not my taste buds, so I opted for their homemade Durban Bunny Chow and requested that they give me a hot curry. The irony does not escape me that we went to the fanciest hotel on our list and I order the messiest dish available. I will withhold further comment about that albeit to say that I managed to be the neatest bunny eater in the world that afternoon!

    Tender, tender, tender meat, aromatic spices and enough chilli to lull me into a false sense of security for at least half the bunny. Once I reached the middle of the bunny, I am pretty sure I lost my vision for a few minutes before regaining it, giggling some more with utter delight at the best bunny I’ve had in years.

    The menu does also include a small, but unusual milkshake menu, including a nutter butter milkshake which sounded delicious. I was just so sorry my stomach wasn’t big enough and the waiter informed us that there were no spare stomachs available. Ce la vie.

    All in all, The Oyster Box Ocean Terrace restaurant was the absolute highlight of our stay. We had such a good time, enjoyed the food, the service, the atmosphere. If you ever want to spend an afternoon lunch in Durban, try the Ocean Terrace. You’ll be delighted.
    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Accommodation
  • Alfresco
  • Beer served
  • Breakfast
  • Child friendly
  • Cocktails
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Hotel
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Vegetarian

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