Recently relocated to a completely refurbished building set over the water of Durban’s harbour with breathtaking views of the waterfront and Victoria Embankment, 9th Avenue Waterside is the culmination of an almost two-year-long journey for Graham and Gina Neilson, who moved 9th Avenue Bistro, tweaked its name and set it on a new course.
Food type: Modern bistro
Cost: R230 avg main meal
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 5; Ambience: 5; Service: 5
With a setting that locals will now proclaim suits the offering much better, it’s great to see that all the favourites are still there, with the addition of an array of new seafood dishes that just seem to taste better with a view of the sea! Langoustine tails set atop creamy orzo; delicate gin-cured salmon dotted with dill, trout roe and crème fraîche; and Saldanha Bay mussels in a flavour-packed sea-salty broth – all are a celebration of simple flavours married beautifully with fresh ingredients.
A casual daytime menu caters to the lunch crowd, with main courses featuring a good balance of land and sea dishes. Try the crispy roasted free-range duck served with glazed carrots and green beans topped with mushroom-and-lentil cream and hazelnuts; or the squid-ink linguine laced with tomato-and-fennel cream and topped with prawn tails, chilli pesto and rocket. Meatier options impress, including the likes of lamb shoulder, charcoal roasted pork belly, or organic free-range beef with hand-cut chips, black garlic aïoli, spinach and a brandy green peppercorn sauce.
End on a sweet note with a decadent chocolate hazelnut pot de crème – a cookie crumble base topped with rich coffee Chantilly cream and white chocolate shavings, or the apple, pear and raisin bread pudding drenched in whisky sauce with honeycomb and honey ice cream.
A well-researched wine list places emphasis on smaller South African boutique wineries, though a selection of international wines and locally sourced craft beers is also available.
A charming team works effortlessly to deliver an exceptional dining experience, with Gina steering the front of house team and Graham in the marble-clad open plan kitchen working the pass. The menu is still sophisticated, but the experience is unpretentious – servers are easily on hand to assist with menu choices and wine pairing.
An exquisite view by day is transformed into a drop-dead gorgeous one at night, with Durban’s harbour pulling out all the stops to emulate a cosmopolitan marina the likes of anywhere in the Mediterranean. This is a multifunctional space that allows you to start your day with an espresso or watch the sunset with an espresso martini from the cocktail lounge, as well as enjoy a variety of dining options, be that in the main restaurant or private dining room.
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