‘Fresh’ and ‘seasonal’ is the promise at The Chefs’ Table, and they deliver on it, offering one of the best dining experiences to be had in Durban. What’s more, an evening here is – there’s no other word for it – fun. If you like your fine dining with a side of vibe, this is the spot for you.
Executive head chef Calvin Metior was born, raised and trained in Durban before heading to the UK to work in no fewer than four different Michelin-starred restaurants. He’s brought all that experience and innovation back home with him to The Chefs’ Table, crafting a robust menu of delicious, visually striking dishes using seasonal ingredients from KwaZulu-Natal.
There’s a full vegetarian menu and even a separate menu for vegans, with four mains options apiece. Omnivores will want to start with the overnight beef tongue, which is slow-cooked to the point of just about melting in your mouth. Lemon atchar, pickled red cabbage and a Granny Smith-apple purée add just the right amount of acidity. It’s a seemingly casual dish that belies the depth of flavour you experience once you dig in. Another crowd-pleaser is the wood-fired octopus in a Korean glaze, which has a good bite to it. The compressed cucumber, kimchi and lime curd that accompany it make this a fresh, delicious plate of food. For mains, try the crab curry tortellini in a delicious bisque, or the minimalist Midlands ‘bacon chop’, which is cooked in a sherry-and-maple glaze and served with potato mash, mustard, onion, macadamia nuts and crispy pork skin. There’s plenty on the menu to catch your eye and prompt multiple return visits, from the cumin paneer starter (with heirloom carrot, cardamon, coriander paste and spiced honey granola) to the Caldhame duck duo (with Jerusalem artichokes, kumquat marmalade, dune spinach, fennel pollen and spiced jus). As for dessert? Pay tribute to the Durban summer with ‘shades of sunshine’ (citrus, lemon curd, Durban curries, sable and nectarine) or take your first baby steps into plant-based dining with the vegan ‘coffee and coconut’: coffee panna cotta, roast coconut, coconut sorbet and apple.
Schedule an extra little chunk of time into your dinner plans if you’re someone who likes to thoroughly peruse a wine list – this one’s substantial to say the least. Beverage director George Dzyubinskiy has put together a wonderfully diverse yet balanced list of South African wines interspersed with international options (mostly from France and New Zealand), as well as Champagne. There’s a sizeable variety available by the glass, too. Not too fussed about a good vintage? Then you may want to try one of head mixologist Shaun Cooper’s sublime cocktails. There are six variations on a gin and tonic alone.
In keeping with the general vibe, service is energetic. Wait staff are friendly, efficient and very well versed in the menu.
With an open kitchen at the heart of the restaurant, every table is a chef’s table here (you can see what they did there). The interiors reflect the concept behind both the food and the overall experience on offer: an adventurous fusion of inspiration that works because it is underpinned by good raw materials, familiar comforts and simple luxury. There’s a palette of blues, greens and wood, with eclectic touches such as monkey light fixtures and larger-than-life Tretchikoff-inspired murals watching over the dining area.
Easily the best restaurant in Durban and one of the top restaurants in the country. If you're in Durban and haven't been as yet, go now!!!
Had a superb meal here this evening. Everything was carefully thought out and well attended to. Outstanding service, excellent response to unplanned occurrences - ticked every single box.
Impressed by the vegetarian option tasting menu - unusual for restaurants to have such an option. I had the non-veg tasting menu and my dining partner had the veg option - again highly unusual as most restaurants insist on the same tasting menu for the entire table.
Every dish was exquisite - great flavors and interesting challenges on some dishes. Thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to go back.