Sunday, March 27, 2011

9th Avenue Bistro, 9th Avenue, Durban

 I have been to 9th Avenue once before but it was years ago and the chefs have since changed. I thoroughly enjoyed my initial experience so expectations were very high on this visit.

It was a dark and stormy night (seriously) and two friends, Matty and Shayno, were down in Durban from Joburg for a few days and invited us to dinner with them at 9th Avenue. I have wanted to visit the restaurant again since hearing the chefs had changed but hadn't yet had a reason to fork out such a substantial (by Durban standards) amount of cash for a meal.
Anyway, my friends gave me this reason, and they advised that they intended spoiling themselves with the tasting menu, which excited me even more.

The courses were as follows:

Potato and garlic soup with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and caviar;

Fresh tomato and mozzarrella slices served with a basil granola;

Butternut ravioli with a madeira cream mushroom sauce and candied pecans;

Swordfish served on a bed on leek and smoked salmon risotto;

Fillet of beef, served rare on a bed on baby spinach with a butternut and sweet potato gratinee;

Chocolate torte.

We also drank mojitos and maragartia's which were sublime, and surprisingly well priced for such an establishment.

Now for the food opinions:

First course was great, I am not the biggest fan of dishes where garlic is the dominant taste but I thoroughly enjoyed the soup, the garlic was perfectly balanced with the flavour of the salmon. A seriously tasty soup.

The second course was very interesting. Shayno didn't enjoy the granola as he found it too sweet but the rest of us enjoyed the interesting textures and tastes of the soft, salty cheese combined with the juicy tomato and the slightly sweet, very basil-y crunchy granola. It took a while to get my head around what I was tasting but it grew on me with every bite I took and by the end of the dish I had decided that it was sufficiently scrumptious.

The third course was also sweet. And here again, the sweetness of the madeira mushroom cream sauce and the candied pecans was just perfect. It really added something that I never could have imagined to the butternut ravioli. I'm pretty sure I would have licked my plate clean if I thought those around me wouldn't have found it offensive.

The next course was swordfish and risotto. The fish was cooked to perfection and extremely tasty on its own and with the outstanding risotto. The piece of fish was rather large considering that swordfish is such a meaty fish so I ended up leaving about a third of it. It was a tasting menu, I had to pace myself.

The fifth course was steak, which was served rare.The meat itself was perfectly tender and someone commented that it felt as though we were chewing on clouds. The spinach was fine and the gratinee was average but the steak was truly so good that it didn't really matter what was on the plate with it, it shone like a bright shining star of mouth-watering awesomness.

The final course was the chocolate torte which was amazingly dense and chocolatey. To be honest I think I would've preferred something lighter at the end of all those courses but it was definitely delicious and decidedly decadent. I would recommend it, just not as part of the tasting menu.

The food was wonderful. The presentation was exquisite and the tastes and combinations were interesting but not too interesting as to put off conservative eaters, which I think is a great idea, especially in Durban. I had very high expectations and I am pleased to report that these were met.
I would definitely recommend this restaurant and the tasting menu. Although, one disappointment I encountered was that wine was not included in the menu. I was under the impression that tasting menus always include wine pairings but apparently this is not the case. I think that it would finish off the meal perfectly if the chef were to choose the perfect wine for each course. I don't know a lot about wine other than that sometimes it compliments my meal and other times it doesn't so I would appreciate a professional's guidance when I am eating a set menu of their food.

Completely Cooked Rating: 8.5/10


Sophia said...

Nice review of 9th Avenue, it's always been my choice when coming to Durban. We've had the R250 6 course tasting menu twice before and always found it great value for money (especially coming from JHB) The food is always great and delicious - I wish 9th was in Sandton. PS. Just a heads up, if you ask the manager/owner she will pair wine for you with the tasting menu.

Candice said...

Thanks Sophia :) I will definitely ask about the wine pairing on my next visit.