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CAFÉ 1999 (article first published : 2003-03-21)

Situated about 10 minutes drive from the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and the Square Space Theatre on the University of Natal Durban campus; an equal distance to the Kwasuka or Courtyard Theatres, and 15 minutes drive from the Playhouse complex, Café 1999 is perfectly situated for that relaxing pre-theatre dinner. Or, if it’s not a late production, an after-show light meal.

Tucked away in the Silvervause Centre at 117 Vause Road, it’s a gem of a restaurant. Owner Andrč Schubert (and how much more artistic a name can you hope for than that?) and manager Sean Roberts are passionate about their menu and how it is served.

Their concept is “A Celebration of Tastes”. The idea is to entice you to sample as much of their fare as possible with everything being the size of an average starter portion. There are two main categories on the menu Tit Bits and Bit Parts (back comes the artistic theme!), the latter offering slightly larger portions.

It is easy to see why Café 1999 has walked off with numerous prestigious restaurant awards. This is a no-nonsense, attractively designed venue where the accent is strongly placed on good food. The style is modern and mostly Mediterranean with a fusion of flavours.

We decided to stay with the smaller portions and chose four items to share from the Tit Bits selection, starting off with a favourite on the menu and one heartily recommended by friends. This is Calamata Olives stuffed with ricotta cheese, deep fried and served with a chilli and herb mayonnaise (R16) – delicious and worthy of the rave mentions!

We then chose Ginger and Lime Prawn Kebabs with a wasabi mayo (R32) which were beautifully presented with the whole prawns served in crisp and crunchy shells. We followed this with a Potatoes roased with rocksalt and coarse black pepper (R11) and succulent New Wave Chicken Strips, flame grilled and served with spicy peanut sauce and coriander pesto (R24).

I’m not normally a fan of desserts but couldn’t resist the Pashka Russian Cheesecake (R22) for its name alone. It was sublime.

Today’s specials were Drakensberg Trout, Fillet Salad, Seared Tuna and a Puff Pastry Tart. Most expensive items on the menu are Marinated Fillet or Fillet rolled in crushed peppercorns (R41) or Rack of Lamb oven baked with Wholegrain Mustard (R40). If the budget is poorly, there’s Ciabetta Fingers (R10). Other interesting items on the menu are Duck Springrolls with a Sweet Chilli Dip (R29) and Ostrich Fillet (R38).

Café 1999 is open Mondays to Friday for lunch from 12h30 to 14h30 and dinner from 18h30 to 22h30 (Fridays 23h30). They are only open for dinner on Saturdays from 18h30 to 23h30. Phone 031 202 3406, fax 031 201 8152, e-mail: cafe1999@iafrica.com Or visit www.eatabouttown.co.za (click on Café 1999) – Caroline Smart




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