The Secret Diner
Surf Riders Cafe
Where: 17 Erskine Terrace, South Beach, Durban
Open: Daily 6.30am to 3.30pm
There can be few better spots on the beachfront where one can sit outside and drink in the ocean (and some of the talent that uses it), so on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, I suggested to a friend that we try a late lunch at Surf Riders.
I’d woken him up (yes, it had been one of those nights), but he needed sustenance, so he donned the shades and joined me.
It was also great to be welcomed back by the same friendly staff with the same sense of fun. It’s good to see that despite the horrors Covid-19 is inflicting on the restaurant industry, that carefree Californian vibe isn’t flagging.
Unfortunately, on Mr President’s instructions, their award-winning Diners Club wine selection is locked in the cellar, and their famed blue Margaritas are off the menu for now, but we made do with coffees, and tonic waters.
The menu has been simplified, so think breakfasts, which is basically a selection of Benedicts along with granola and fruit options, pizzas, and burgers and hot dogs. We decided to share a pizza for starters, and while the prawn and chourico, or feta bacon and avo, or even the classic Margherita all appealed, my friend insisted on the vegetarian (R89).
He’d spotted the artichokes along with peppers, onions, mushrooms and roasted brinjals. The pizza was a great success. The lightest, thinnest, crispiest bases came with a generous scattering of artichokes and the brinjal definitely added to it. We bushed it all with a bit of the delicious home-made chilli sauce. Just a bit, because it has a kick.
For mains, I was tempted by the habanero burger topped with habanero mayo, guacamole, cheese and pineapple relish. It sounded perfectly messy. One could have had the 100% free-range home made burgers with bacon and cheese or Camembert and berry relish. There’s even a soft-shell crab burger with guacamole and habanero mayo.
Instead, we opted for a small selection of daily specials. The crispy fried calamari with home-made mayo and chips (R140) was a treat, the crumb super-crisp, and the hand-cut chips are always top notch. It’s pub food yes, but in a beach setting on a perfect Sunday afternoon it was exactly what was required.
But, please Uncle Cyril, this really did need a great craft beer to go with it.
My friend tried the fish tacos (R95), which was spicy panko crumbed linefish with habanero mayo, chargrilled pineapple, toasted seaweed and beach greens. He gave it the thumbs up. I liked the spiciness of the crumb that went well with the hot mayo. Other options included nachos with chicken, and salad or a selection of poke bowls, including one with deep fried prawns.
Desserts might be Spanish piped doughnuts with chilli chocolate sauce, Belgian waffles or milkshakes. From past experience, I know they throw everything and the kitchen sink into their milkshakes, making them a real after-dinner treat. The kitchen was closing by this point so I’ll be back to try those authentic waffles with real maple syrup.
Instead, I had a great coffee and my friend, who drinks more milk than can possibly be good for anyone, really raved about the latte.
We took a stroll down the new promenade to walk off our lunch. It was pumping.
The Independent on Saturday