The beautiful czar of pink gins
Bellézar Beach Cafe
Where: Cabana Beach Resort, 10 Lagoon Drive, uMhlanga
Open: Daily 6am to 10pm
Call: 031 561 2173
uMhlanga was pumping in pre-pandemic style over the long weekend, with holidaymakers making the most of the idyllic weather and the beach. Such was the popularity of Bellézar that we had to wait in a socially-distanced queue while admiring the bodies on the beach slowly being turned to a crisp.
But it was worth the wait. We were ushered to a table with views over Main Beach, and were soon sipping grapefruit gins with half the fruit bowl out of cocktail consoles watching the follies below.
The restaurant has changed significantly since its old Razzmatazz Days. Gone are the old fuddy-duddy Spanish features, with the main restaurant decked in a riot of jungle-themed wallpaper and three outdoor terraces with trellises and plants descending down the bank to the promenade below. You couldn’t get more beach vibe than this.
We pondered the name. Belle in French is beautiful, bellezza in Italian is beauty. Zar, a variant of czar or is that ZAR, the good old South African rand. Or is it named after some mystery sultan in some faraway land? The restaurant certainly has that Hanging Gardens of Babylon feel. Well, beauty summed up the setting.
We ordered another of those grapefruit creations as we contemplated the menu ‒ and some of our fellow patrons. The families, gaggles of friends from all ages and backgrounds. The two ballies sitting high above the scene with a table loaded with ice buckets, loaded with chilled beers, enjoying their holiday ‒ their wives probably shopping, the kids old enough to enjoy the beach unsupervised. They popped in periodically for a visit.
Bellézar offers an enormous menu with something everyone, from breakfasts, to light lunches, to wraps, burgers and pizzas, to more substantial grills of steaks of varying sizes and massive seafood platters, at R1 250, including crayfish for two. We saw a couple coming out. And then there is sushi.
Planning to have a light lunch we shared a sushi platter. The BZ platter (R280) consisted of 20 pieces which included salmon roses, spicy tuna fashion sandwich, salmon rainbow rolls, tuna teriyaki and tempura prawn rainbow, except they were out of salmon roses, so doubled up on the tempura prawn option.
The sushi was good and fresh and enjoyable, although I wasn’t wild about the spice on the spicy tuna sandwich and my friend quibbled at the perinaise rather than mayonnaise on the salmon rainbow rolls, although this I enjoyed. We both loved the teriyaki sauce.
We ordered another of those pink gins and decided to soak them up with their mussel hotpot (R99) in a creamy garlic and white wine sauce served with slices of toasted ciabatta. This too went down a treat, as did the four king prawns served on a bed of savoury rice with a selection of sauces (R160). There’s a main course option of 10.
Other light bites include chicken wings or chicken livers, calamari, fish and chips and beef trinchado.
Pizzas include the lighthouse, with sundried tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, feta and avo, or the Cabana Beach with ham and mushrooms. Surf’s up features ham, tomato and pineapple, while the uMhlanga Rocks takes in cajun fillet and chilli. Salads include one with beetroot and feta, while burgers take in chicken and beef with cheese, onion marmalade and their own smoked mayo.
Ramping it up for the evening are dishes like whole roasted red snapper, Norwegian salmon and a number of ways with line fish, along with pork spare ribs and 500g T-bones.
Another round of pink numbers arrived at the table. And as the sun was setting we shared a waffle with berries and vanilla ice cream (R60).
When the bill came we blanched slightly. We had neglected to enquire how much these delicious buckets of grapefruit gin and tonic had cost. But it was one hell of an afternoon.
Food: 3 ½
Service: 3 ½
Ambience: 4 ½