Secret Diner: At sea on a beautiful coastline

Elements Cafe Bar

Where: Beverly Hills Hotel, 1 Lighthouse Rd, uMhlanga

Open: Daily noon to 9pm

Call: 031 561 2211

I’ve always enjoyed the terrace at the Beverly Hills. It really is five star and has to be one of the best spots on the KZN coast. Even on a slightly blustery Sunday it was secluded and we could sit on the deck at Elements and enjoy the beautiful sea views.

With the relaunch in the kitchen last year and new menus that looked light and interesting, I was looking forward to revisiting uMhlanga’s Pink Lady after a long lockdown break.

We ordered a couple of glasses of wine and perused the menu which has really been pared down from its relaunch later last year. But first – I digress – my friend had to ask our waitress to put her mask on properly. I call it going half masked – when the mask falls below the nose – and it makes the reason for wearing a mask completely useless.

Fillet with caramelised onions, roasted tomato and rustic fries.

It’s a sad part of the hospitality industry that staff are far more at risk than the customers themselves, simply because they’re interacting with so many different people from so many walks of life, many of whom, because they’re eating and drinking, won’t be wearing masks. Diners are less at risk from each other because essentially we’re socialising in our own bubbles. It’s a conundrum I am not quite sure how you solve.

It inspires customer confidence if the staff are properly masked and therefore less likely to spread anything should they become infected. And masks that tie around the back of the head will prevent them slipping when they are carrying three or four hot plates of food to the table.

Obviously, others don’t worry about such mundane things because the terrace was busy with a vibey atmosphere, which was great to see.

For starters there’s a limited selection which includes a chicken Caesar or Greek salad, harissa spiced chicken livers or a warm flatbread with garlic thyme salt and olive oil. Or there was calamari, grilled or fried, with an avocado and cucumber slaw or tempura prawns served with a sweet mango relish.

Tempura prawns with mango and Asian dipping sauces.

We settled on the calamari to share while we sipped our wine, only to be told there was no calamari that day. So the tempura prawns it would have to be at R80 for two or R160 for four. At least they would be cheaper than Daruma up the road where the dish worked out at R50 a prawn. Sadly while the batter was fine, the prawns themselves had been cooked to a mush. The mango sauce was good though.

Mains offered a slightly larger selection including grilled prawns and Norwegian salmon which came in two sizes on stir fried veg and Chinese noodles. There’s a Durban lamb curry with rice, roti and all the trimmings, or pistachio chicken with Asian greens and a peanut satay sauce, as well as a gourmet shisanyama platter complete with Wagyu brisket.

A homemade burger and a few pizzas and sandwiches complete the picture. Here at least, the chicken mayonnaise sandwich at R90, is still a fraction of the price of its five-star rival across the road.

My friend went for the fillet medallions with caramelised onion, mushroom sauce, oven-roasted baby tomatoes and rustic fries (R165/R270), opting for the smaller version. This was an enjoyable dish, although the fillet was cooked medium rather than the medium rare ordered.

I went for the fish and chips with pea puree, home-made tartare and more of those rustic fries (R90/R165) opting for the full portion. The fish was good and I enjoyed the fries. Unfortunately the pea puree was cold – maybe it was meant to be, but if it was it added nothing to the dish.

We skipped dessert opting instead to finish our wine while enjoying the sea view. Even on this forebodingly murky Sunday afternoon, the terrace at the Beverly is a lovely spot.

Food: 3

Service: 3

Ambience:

The Independent on Saturday