Where: Lifestyle Centre, Ballito
Open: Weekdays 8am - 10pm, Friday and Saturday 8am - midnight
Call: 087 460 0079
This year hasn’t got off to a great start on the food front. And it’s not because of a lack of choice. There has been a plethora of restaurant openings on Florida Road and in uMhlanga and Ballito. It’s just that the kitchens haven’t been firing.
Katmandu is a stylish new addition to the Lifestyle Centre with a relaxed indoor-outdoor feel. Built around an old fig tree, it has a bar on the one side and a restaurant on the other, with a large deck area linking them.
There’s even a small stage for live music on weekends. And while the decor, like much of Ballito, speaks more to Bali than Nepal, it’s funky and vibrant with retro touches. We enjoyed sitting in the shade on the deck on a sweltering summer’s day.
The menu, too, says little of Nepalese cooking with spiced dhalls, served with grain and meat on the side. Instead, there are pizzas (R96-R134) with toppings like lamb, hummus, brinjal and mint, or bacon, banana and Brie cheese. There are Turkish flatbreads (R74-R96) that could include lamb, charcuterie or vegetables and, you guessed it, burgers (R86-R114). An easygoing section takes in a bisque, a Lebanese watermelon salad or fish cakes.
I was interested in The Ballito Ski-boat Club (R176), which boasted the catch of the day - Norwegian salmon. Well, they obviously have some truly amazing ski-boats in Ballito. Instead, I opted for the First Class Indian Railways chicken and prawn curry (R158).
It was presented prettily on a board with rice and a papadum and sambals, but this was unlike anything that would ever be served on the Indian Railways. While the dish may have had plenty of spice twigs and sticks in it, it was mild and insufferably bland. And, surprise, surprise, it also contained olives. It was almost as if someone had taken a pasta sauce and added some curry powder. While it was substantial, it contained only three prawns.
It was just so sad, especially as every Ballito housewife knows of the immense pleasure of Cindy Valayadam’s rich and rewarding curries served from her tiny little fresh produce shop in uMhlali. Many will have served her chicken and prawn curry in their own homes, and had guests wanting the recipe.
A friend had the Karoo lamb shank with neeps and tatties (R196), which heads to Scotland. Neeps are a yellow turnip, which the English call swede and some would call cattle food. It’s a staple in places with short growing seasons and frozen soil. Made into a rough-hewn mash with potatoes and lots of butter, it’s an enjoyable dish. Well, while the shank was pleasant, the mash had no hint of the humble yellow turnip in it.
My friend’s verdict: “I’ve had better, but I’ve had worse.”
Desserts were limited. A warm pear and almond tart, a selection of home-made ice-creams and biscotti, or a rhubarb brûlée with ginger shortbread (R69). I opted for the last and while the brûlée topping was nice and thin, the “custard” was awful. It wasn’t a custard but some pure, fat mascarpone mousse. The rhubarb was not tart enough and there wasn’t enough of it to cut the richness. I put it aside.
Service: 2 ½