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Café Jiran is spacious, well laid-out and tastefully furnished. It moves from the shaded pavement outside to a split-level restaurant inside with seating options for a variety of patrons, from romantic couples to conference delegates. The menu caters for the health conscious or those on the go with its wide selection of coffees, teas, fruit or veggie juices.
Like other reviewers on this site, have frequented Cafe Jiran from time to time. Have not been there for approximately a year. This weekend we had foreign visitors, with the stunning Durban weather we decided to try Cafe Jiran for a change. No tables were available, so I put our names down and requested an outside table. After 10 or so minutes I was called (we had gone for a walk) to say our table was ready. We returned promptly only to be told by the unfriendly manager that the table was not available and we were to sit inside at some shoved together tables and wait while the people left. This we did, placed our drink order. Had those, placed our food order (by now about 45 minutes had passed). I then went to the manager and enquired about our outdoor table as I had seen new people sitting there, he said it was not available, wait for the people to leave. In all, I counted 3 sets of different people being seated and served at "our" table. All the time we sat indoors and never once did the manager approach us or explain or apologise. Quite embarassing and shocking for our foreign visitors who just wanted to soak up the sun! In addition the breakfast order was somewhat messed up. I bare no grievances toward the waiters who are just trying to keep people happy and are pleasant. The large manager on the other hand... upon leaving he was too busy chatting on the phone to listen to my concerns. Such a shame - the restaurant has such potential, let down badly by incompetent and uncaring staff. Will rather support other places from now on.
I have frequented this favourable Durban eatery for some time purely because of the casualness of the venue and proximity to Durban’s Golden Mile / Promenade. On the weekends the venue generally bustles and is alive with Durban’s cafe cultured clientele. To date I have never been overly impressed with the service or much else, (albeit the coffee can be great occasionally), but alas the venue is sadly the only place with a contemporary vibe to grab a cuppa, cake or brunch outside the typical chain store eateries on the beachfront. Over this Easter weekend we visited twice, as the infamous ‘weatherman’ was in fact incorrect or mislead in forecasting the weather, and Durban enjoyed fantastic weather all Easter.
On the first visit our group of 6 arrived, only to be told by the manager that we couldn’t be accommodated, however, after a quick survey we found a table ourselves and so ensued our breakfast, the manager was no where to be seen by this point. Moving along, all was ok, we ordered, coffees took the usual 15-20 minutes to arrive (in stages), but being Easter “n’ all” there was no hurry, it was all good, after all this is Durban. The breakfast on arrival seemed delightful with most of the party satisfied, one said it was really good, the other cold, most comments were average, however I had noticed all the mushrooms picked out most of the plates, upon a taste test, the general consensus was that they had not been seasoned and were if anything uncomplimentary to the breakfast. By now the plates more or less clean, coffee finished, and the water that was ordered with the coffee, still M.I.A. After two or so more reminders a jug of the clearly precious water arrived with a few glasses, although the glasses must have been taken out the dish washer before the cycle had finished as we all had to clean the grease off with our napkins before we could quench our thirst. Waiting for the bill is another game of patience, but as I said before we were in no hurry, although we could have easily each had another coffee, but we feared another 30 minutes delay, and we wanted to walk the promenade before high tea.
On the second installation we arrived as a party of 8 with a few toddlers although they were summoned to the kiddies play area (very cool), anyhow 15 minutes passed and the kids were thirsty and we had not seen or heard from a waiter, so we lost one family as the kids were thirsty and lacked our extreme patience. After hunting down the floor manager to which she received a grilling, she came forth with menus ensuring speedy service by a waiter. 15 minutes later, no waiter, no order, no nothing, our table(s) had not even been cleared from the patrons prior to us. By now the patrons at tables around us were frustrated and our dwindled party dehydrated, with moods being tempered, we again went on the hunt for the manager... momentarily afterwards a waiter came forth to get our order. The order was not rocket science, 4 breakfasts, 5 coffees and a Coke. The coffee arrived, 2 of which had sour milk, and the balance room temp. At this point we were happy just to have something in front of us, now an hour or so into the procession, with breakfast arriving almost immediately after the coffee. In summary, the soft ordered eggs were raw, some plates only had a half a slice of toast, butter only came with one breakfast (so we forced to share) ... butter, sauces, toast etc never arrived, and the coffee never replaced, yet we were charged for it. The bill took in excess of 20 minutes to settle for what ever reason, I wasn’t there to witness the fiasco. I had walked off to collect the car at the not so nearby beach parking lot, driven back, loaded up the pram, baby, said the good byes and was ready to go. It was only then I was told by the Mrs we hadn’t paid yet... My immediate response was, “you joking right?” Eventually we paid, and yes we paid for the latte that was prepared with sour milk, and yes by the time we left it was still standing in the table with no replacement in sight, and yes we tipped the waiter, and yes I still left with a smile on my face. Its Easter, I’m chilled, I’m from Durban. But when I got home I gave it some thought... It is actually unacceptable. I have worked and owned various business interests, paid my school fees to understand the value of the ever loyal paying customers, no matter what industry, the principle remains the same, you will not survive with out the customer so look after the ones you have.
On a positive note, the menu is well priced and has huge potential, if only the front of house staff could match the savvy offerings. If this was addressed and possibly if the kitchen staff could occasionally season the food I assure you there would be a stronger demand for tables, and in turn the owners would maximise the profitability by happy customers and faster table turn around.
Will we be back? Not if I am the paying customer.