Husband-and-wife team and UK-trained chefs Jordan and Nat Semple are the masterminds behind the new 031 Bar and Restaurant at Distillery 031 on Station Drive in Berea, Durban. Eat Out critic Nikita Buxton goes to sample the accessible street-food-style dishes and innovative drinks.
Price: R75 average for a main meal
Serves: Quirky pub grub with streetfood flair and great craft cocktails
Best for: A booze-infused night out with friends
Parking: Station Drive can be a bit quiet and dark on weeknights and very busy on weekends, so rather take a taxi
Star ratings: food 4, service 5, ambience 4
We kickstart the evening with some indulgent sweet-and-sour pickled onion bhaji, crispy spiralised zucchini fritti, and truffled biltong mac ’n chini (meaning small) balls. The latter are definitely worth the calorie intake: these glorious bites of rich, cheesy macaroni-and-brie mixture are deep fried, topped with a dusting of salty biltong dust, and served piping hot.
For mains, the pineapple-and-bacon-jam burger in a kitke bun is meaty and delicious, albeit a bit too crumbly. The patty is made with a mixture of beef and oxtail, which adds a deeper note that works perfectly with the sweetness of the jam. The Asian worsrol is a flavour explosion: a homemade roll is filled with spicy boerewors, fiery Korean ketchup and wasabi mayo, and comes topped with deep-fried ginger, crispy umami seaweed and sesame seeds. I will never want a worsrol any other way again.
If you’re looking for chicken, the Prohibition Waffle will satisfy, comprised of tender confit chicken leg meat that’s fried and served with sweet-and-sour gojuchang relish and a cooling blue-cheese dip. For veggies, there’s a decent veg burger with aubergine and basil pesto, or the mac ’n cheese, which is, disappointingly, unavailable on the night we visit.
After a fried, spicy and carb-filled meal, the dessert has to be shared and we can’t resist finding space for the banana split. Two brûléed banana halves are served with a salty-yet-sweet white miso ice cream, chocolate sauce, miso caramel and a welcoming crunch of Oreo crumbs. If you’re wanting something fresh and light, there is also a selection of ice cream and sorbet that are house churned and inspired by flavours from the distillery.
Durban’s home-grown mixologist, Jason Andrew, has imagined some fresh and unusual combinations using the artisanal spirit range from in-house Distillery 031. A little nervous to try the Corpse Reviver with gin, vermouth and absinthe, we opt for the lighter-sounding options. The signature G&T is perfect for those who like things simple, and it goes down well with their homemade natural tonic. The real winner, however, is the moreish Unpretentious Empress with Durban dry gin that’s shaken with fragrant vanilla and baobab and finished with fresh lemon. Wine lovers can choose from a very small but decent offering, while beer drinkers are looked after with Durban options such as Poison City Brewing Bird Lager and That Brewing Company Blonde.
Warm, helpful and full of smiles. Our waitress, Sandra, is full of spirit; it’s clear that she loves her job.
First and foremost, this spot is a distillery. The clean wood, copper and glass interior is warmed up by trendy light fittings and vases of bright-green delicious monsters. The music is heard all the way up the staircase; jazzy laid-back tunes fill the air. It’s comfortable and stylish, and does not need excessive décor thanks to the large gleaming distillery on show.
031 Bar & Restaurant has recently introduced its Sunny Side Up Sundays, when brunch, cocktails and chilled-out vinyl music are offered on the rooftop bar. Head there from 10am to 3pm every Sunday.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.