When going out to a restaurant, there are three things that I highly value, the atmosphere, the service and the food. There needs to be a good balance between these three things. Only then does it become an establishment I would frequent regularly.
One of Durban’s relatively new restaurants, The Fish and Wine Co at the bourgeois The Pearls of Umhlanga, has to impress in order to survive in that very competitive neighbourhood. It needs to bring an amazing dining experience, while also serving guests delicious food. And it did just that when I recently went to the restaurant.
What’s different about this restaurant is its emphasise on pairing seafood and wine, something many similar establishments may not do.
Their seafood and wine pairings are more than just a dry Chardonnay with a mild white fish, which is a relief. We now want more as consumers.
Fish and Wine Co head chef Rowan Larkin introduced us to their menu, which lists which dish complements each wine.
This does help, especially for those who aren’t wine connoisseurs, but would still like to enjoy a perfectly paired meal.
The first dish was a sushi platter. Full disclosure: I don’t like sushi or sashimi but, surprisingly, I enjoyed this and the wine helped cut through the fat, giving it a pleasant taste. The salmon sashimi was paired with a sauvignon blanc wine.
The second dish was crispy hake goujons paired with Gewurztraminer wine and calamari with a balanced cinsaut wine.
Speaking to the owner, Robert Nunes, about the place, he said the restaurant had been operating for about three months but was officially launched three weeks ago at The Pearls.
He said the restaurant was situated in uMhlanga because of the development growth in the area nd its proximity to the ocean. “uMhlanga is growing at a high rate. It’s a village that has become a town. The climate is very favourable, especially at this time of the year with the sea-breeze coming in. With that in mind we are also bringing in an outdoor cocktail bar where people can enjoy their freshly made cocktails outside facing a beautiful sea view.
The cocktails will be made from fresh, locally produced fruit as we are all about freshness. And we are also working towards having sushi and dim sum on the menu, which should be available by next year January,” said Nunes.
I liked that every dish was made with fresh ingredients. You could actually taste and smell the freshness of the fish and it tasted so good without a lot of overpowering seasoning.
While it may be the The Pearls, it’s not a fine-dining restaurant. I did love how the restaurant displays a very open space with fresh, minimalistic decor and yet a warm and authentic interior.
“We are not a fine-dining area and with that our wine prices are extremely reasonable. They are priced so we can buy the best and freshest product possible. Whatever the retail price of the wine is we add R50 to the bottle and if you order the wine and the food together, the prices go down,” Nunes said.
If you will be going as a group of three or four I would suggest their food and wine platter, which has mussels, prawn shells, calamari (deep fried with beer butter), grilled scampi, hake goujons, fresh home-made bread, skordalia (potatoes, garlic and olive oil) and tzaziki (plain yoghurt, shredded cucumbers, touch of garlic).
This platter goes for R110.