Upping the steaks

The Secret Diner

Havana Grill

Where: Suncoast Casino, Battery Beach Road, North Beach

Open: Monday to Thursday, noon to 9pm; Friday to Saturday, noon to 10pm

Call: 064 757 1141

WE had the picture window with sweeping views of the sea and beachfront all to ourselves this week.

That will change. It was a Monday lunch – never the liveliest time in any restaurant – and with the holidays starting, this spot will be in demand. But we relished the view over our gin and tonics as we caught up on more than nine months of news. Yes, we hadn’t seen each other since lockdown.

The Havana Grill in Durban’s Suncoast has always been a reliable staple and a handy central meeting point. They also offer exceptionally reasonable lunchtime specials at R150 for a two-course meal or R170 for three courses. And that includes a drink, either beer, wine, fruit juice or the gin and tonics we were sipping.

Half chicken and chips.

And while the lunch time menu is pared down from the full a la carte, there’s no skimping on the quality of the offering. So you might not get prawns or calamari, but starters included a choice of crumbed mushrooms in a spicy sriracha mayonnaise, or a chicken Caesar salad, or posh potato skins topped with bacon and spring onions and smothered in a delicious cheese sauce. I approved, as did the other three of their mushroom starter.

Our waiter came to offer black pepper with the most enormous pepper grinder I had seen. It was about a metre-and-a-half long.

“This is our way of social distancing,” he quipped.

We soon ordered another round of GnTs.

Posh potato skins with bacon, spring onion and cheese sauce.

For mains, three of us had steaks either a 200g rump or 200g sirloin – and all were cooked exactly to order – mine a perfect rare. The chips that came with it too were good, as was the salad that accompanied my friend’s meal. This was a salad that had some proper ingredients in it. Others enjoyed their mushroom sauce while my pepper sauce had a good kick. So no stinting there.

The fourth of our party had the barbecue half chicken which was cooked to perfection and was an enormous portion. She took half of it home for sandwiches the next day.

Malva pudding and ice cream.

One friend opted for the Malva pudding which got the definite thumbs up, while I enjoyed the creme brulee, which was a real baked custard with a perfectly crisp thin layer of burnt sugar. It’s such a simple dish to make but many don’t get it right. This went down well.

While the main a la carte menu includes a full range of aged steaks in a variety of sizes to keep the most ardent carnivore satisfied, there are also a variety of chicken, fish, game and duck dishes, and even a few pastas.

We thoroughly enjoyed our window seat and a surprisingly good value lunch.

Food: 4

Service: 3 ½

Ambience: 3 ½

The Independent on Saturday