Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dining with Tsogo Sun

When one has to think of Durban, the first thing that springs to mind is its beautiful beaches. Situated on the East Coast of South Africa, it boasts the warm waters of the Indian ocean that washes onto miles of KZN's shoreline. There is no doubt that it is Durban's biggest asset and its why the City undertook a major revamp to the main promenade before the 2010 World Cup. At completion, the promenade stretches over 5 kilometres and is rated as one of the best in the world along with cities such as Rio and Miami.
With a world class attraction such as that, it was only time before the hotels along the beach front began to do face lifts and renovations to match the new look. Tsogo Sun being one of them, is one of SA's largest hotel groups and boasts 8 hotels in Durban. They have 5 along the beach front and the two oldest being the Maharani and Elangeni, both of which recently under went renovations.
Last week I was invited to the relaunch of the Hotel, although the Elangeni and Maharani being two buildings separated by an apartment block, it was interesting to learn that they now function as one hotel. Whether you're staying at the Maharani Towers or Elangeni, you can make use of all the facilities both have to offer. Which is quite cool, as both offer many great bars, restaurants and a spa.
The evening started off at the Panorama bar situated on the second floor of the Elangeni Tower, it was one of the floors that was renovated and it clearly showed with a fresh coat of paint, some lovely new additions like a Froyo stand for the kids but main focus was the bar for obvious reasons. Gentle lighting with clever use of LED's gave the bar a welcoming feel. The bar leads onto the deck where the pool is situated, pity that due to the weather we were restricted to sit inside as its perfect for sundowners or evening drinks with mates. The bar offers various cocktails served up by their trained mixologists.
After the meet and greet with Tsogo Sun's Social Media Manager and the other invited guests, we made our way down to the new Grill Jichana which has taken place of the Jewel of India. Before making our way to the restaurant we were taken through to the other establishments, Connors Bar which really has an English Pub feel to it and then we popped into Daruma Japanese restaurant. It really is one of the gems of the hotel as I have been told on numerous occasions of how it is really one of the best Japanese eateries in SA and that all the food on offer, from Sushi to the Teppanyaki is absolutely delicious.
There after it was time to dine, but before being seated the manger of the Grill gave us a tour of their specially made temperature controlled glass wine room. They have a vast selection of wines both local and international, I'm not a wine drinker of note hence a small tray that was lying on a table to the side caught my attention. On it was some of finest whisky's money can buy, which included Johnnie Walker King George Blue Label Whisky.
Once back at the table, a melody of salads were pre-ordered for us, veg, chicken, duck, seafood and beef. All of which were accompanied by special dressings, the one which I really enjoyed was the chicken with pomegranate dressing, which had a bit of everything with the spiciness of the chicken, crisp leaves of lettuce and the sweetness of the pomegranate dressing worked wonderful together.
Before ordering our mains, we were educated on the selection of meats, cuts and pairing of sides that compliment each meal. I opted for the Duo of Lamb which was a double leg chop and double rib chop. Both cuts marinated in a special rub and grilled to a medium rare, to perfection. I ordered Bafana chips (think cut fries) and onion rings as sides and a Madagascan Pepper Sauce which I was told has quite a bite. The rub which the meat was marinated in tasted superb, which made my pepper sauce redundant but I did use it as a dip for my chips and onion rings. The lamb was grilled perfectly, having that char grilled crispy on the outside and the meat a juicy pink inside. As you could imagine, it didn't last very long on my plate.
The mains along with the starter salads was pretty filling but there was always place left for dessert! The pick of the bunch was the Chocolate Bomb, what it essentially is, white chocolate mousse with normal chocolate mousse, inside a duo of chocolate ball, which then has hot chocolate sauce poured over it and when the shell melts it sort of explodes, exposing its contents. 5 types of chocolate was a bit much for me so I opted for the de-constructed milk tart which was equally good. Two layers of milk tart with caramel sauce and berries was a lovely way to end of the dinner.
Once the evening was concluded, I had a chance to walk around the hotel as well as outside to have a look both buildings. The Maharani which is almost 40 years old underwent a full revamp, very cleverly they used the old external lift shaft as a lighting well which houses colour changing LED's which really makes the building stand out for the rest. Both buildings also received a new coat of paint so they really look fresh and new. Overall I am very impressed with what Tsogo Sun has done, its a great investment not only in their asset but to Durban's Golden Mile.

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