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A good meal goes down the drain

Fillet steak with mushroom Masala sauce and chips.

Fillet steak with mushroom Masala sauce and chips.

Published Apr 16, 2022


Mama Luciana’s

Where: 10 Harold Place, Glenashley

Open: Daily noon to 10pm

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Call: 031 562 1405

Restaurants have ways of hinting to customers that it’s closing time.

The good ones will sell you another Irish coffee and wait patiently. In others, lights get brighter, music gets dimmer. Sometimes outdoor furniture gets stacked up around you as you feel corralled by plastic tables. If they’re really rude, bills might even be summarily brought to the table. But this was one of the more bizarre.

The open plan kitchen was being washed down with a heavy solution of Jeyes fluid. Now while I’m happy the kitchen gets a nightly scrub, I certainly didn’t need a sinus enema while enjoying my coffee. But it did the trick. We left and chatted for another 10 minutes in the car park.

A crisp garlic and herb focaccia.

It wasn’t as if it was particularly late either. It was before 10pm, but then Durban is an early city, and one that’s got even earlier since Covid. Try finding anywhere that will serve you if you arrive at 9.30.

We’re at Mama Luciana’s in Glenashley because a friend was spending some time in Durban after a long sojourn in Joburg. When we arrived it was full, and buzzing, spilling over onto the covered verandah despite the rainy weather.

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We wanted to join in the general conviviality but service was patchy, taking a while to get the order in and even longer to replenish the wine.

Starters were fairly simple with items like carpaccio, calamari and chicken livers on the menu. There’s an antipasto board, and marinated artichokes, and snails or cheesy prawns cooked in the pizza oven. We decided to munch on a couple of nice crisp garlic and herb focaccia (R50) while two of us shared a special ‒ calamari ripieni (R95), stuffed with prawns and cooked in a rich seafood sauce. We both enjoyed this immensely.

Calamari tubes stuffed with prawns in a creamy seafood sauce.

Pizzas and pastas were coming out the kitchen in all shapes and sizes, but the small mains menu offered baby chicken, or chicken breast stuffed with Brie and cranberries. Fresh line fish appealed and there are a number of seafood platter options. Fillet, rump, lamb shank and veal all feature. There's an interesting Combo alla Italiano ‒ a selection of beef strips in pepper sauce, chicken strips in pesto and calamari in rosa tomato sauce ‒ presumably for the colours of the Italian flag.

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Three of us opted for steak specials: a 250g fillet with a mushroom masala sauce and chips (R210), which were most enjoyable, the fillet cooked exactly to order, the sauce tasty and the chips crisp. Another had the rump without sauce and vegetables (R165) which he enjoyed.

Another enjoyed Avril’s pasta (R165) a creation of calamari, prawns, chilli, garlic and Napoli sauce. Another tried the penne alla oriental (R135) which was chicken and chorizo in curry spice with cream and coriander. Sadly this was overly hot and decidedly one dimensional, the curry even drowning out the flavour of the chorizo.

And then we were sipping our coffees and finishing our wine when the drain cleaner hit.

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Food: 3


Ambience: 2

The Bill: R1 828 for six

The Independent on Saturday

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