There was a time in Durban where there were not that many grill houses around and one had to resort to the basic chain restaurants which while are okay, doesn't give you that same satisfaction that one of the more premium ones give when having a meal. Fortunately times have changed and grill houses are abundant with us spoiled for choice to be honest. The recent opening of the Pearls Mall in Umhlanga has seen one of the big names in Steak Houses occupying a prime location on the malls roadside front. Cattle Baron has a great heritage in the Cape and it's nice to see it opening on the East Coast of SA. I've never eaten at one before so my first experience was at the new store in Umhlanga.
With the Pearls Mall being marketed as a high end lifestyle center, the introduction of this restaurant is quite welcomed, the decor is modern and the store is spacious but still has the warmth to it that you expect from a grill house. It can accommodate large groups of patrons and also has intimate couch seating for couples and small families. Being on the sea facing end of the mall, there is also an out door balcony seating area which I tried when I first visited, unfortunately with Durban's temperamental weather, it began raining soon after we were seated so we had to move indoors.
So far I've visited the Cattle Baron at Pearls Mall twice so far, once just after it opened and the second visit was a month ago. While there were slight issues on my first visit in terms of service, I did understand the place was fairly new and long as the food was great, that was all that mattered. Apart from the great wine selection as one would expect at a grill house, they also have a good collection of whisky's which I was quite happy to see. Other drinks on the menu do include beers, ciders, cool drinks and hot drinks.
While I do frequently visit Steak Houses, I do not eat steak due to religiously reasons but the Cattle Baron does have a variety of cuts and options to chose from. On my first visit I opted for a poultry dish, the chicken parmesan which reads of the menu as "deep-fried chicken breasts layered with bacon, smothered in cheese sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan shavings and topped with toasted onions" enough to make ones mouth salivate. The dish was awesome, chicken was succulent, the cheese sauce was not too over pouring, the onions were light and sweet and the salty, crispy bacon brought all the elements on the plate together beautifully.
On my second visit I went with my stock standard order at a grill house, Lam Loin Chops. For me the make or break to a good lamb chops is its basting sauce and how it's prepared. I asked for it to be done medium to well which they got right to the t. The meat soft and tender which just melts in your mouth and the basting sauce was superb which found me licking my fingers. It's nice to see that apart from the regular starch that's always offered to a meal, the Cattle Baron also provides a complimentary hot veg for the table as I found myself going for a few helpings of the cream spinach.
Also compared to other steak houses, the Cattle Baron has quite a few vegetarian options which I found great.
The dessert menu is also quite extensive and features many of SA's favorites including malva pudding and cheese cake. I settled for a creme brullee and coffee. The sugar top was just the right thickness, I find some places over do it with the sugar and you spend more time try to get shards of sugar out of your teeth than enjoying the custard. Overall both dinning experiences at Cattle Baron Umhlanga were great and satisfactory, with the place having a welcoming atmosphere and keen prices, the staff and owner who made a point of coming to greet each patron added a nice touch and even offered a free dessert to one in our group because her mains arrived late.
*all pictures from the website: www.cattlebaron.co.za