Food · Restaurant review

NIBBLES: Big Easy Winebar & Grill, Durban

Last Friday evening, the hubby and myself were lucky enough to spend a date night at the Big Easy Winebar and Grill by Ernie Els, inside the Hilton Hotel in Durban.

BIG EASY WALL DECOR

Now, I don’t think it needs saying, but we LOVE our food.  We eat out a lot (usually with the use of our Entertainer app, which makes it more affordable) and we love trying all types of restaurants.  So it was with great excitement (and rumbling tummies) that we walked into the Hilton and through to the Big Easy for our 7pm reservation.

VENUE AND ATMOSPHERE

Located inside the Hilton Hotel and on the ground floor, the restaurant is just beautiful.  The restaurant features a bar where one can enjoy drinks and light snacks, an open restaurant with one small private dining room, and an outside deck that is just magnificent.  The outside area would be amazing to hire for a private cocktail party, with plenty of seating and an upbeat and hip city vibe.

BIG EASY BAR
The lovely (and well stocked) bar.. We both would love to return and sit here with some bar nibbles and a cocktail!
BIG EASY OUTSIDE DECK
The beautiful outside deck area. Lovely for a balmy Durban evening!

You can also see the chef and her staff working away in the kitchen, yet not once did we hear any noise from the kitchen.  We were pleasantly surprised, as a lot of restaurants we’ve been to that have the open kitchen have been exceptionally noisy, regardless of how full the restaurant is.

BIG EASY KITCHEN

BIG EASY RESTAURANT
Seating with wine as the decor

The restaurant has that lovely warm-toned lighting as well, that makes for a fabulous ambience.  Everything is very simple and classy and very well thought out.  We immensely enjoyed the whole vibe, it was very relaxed yet still very upmarket.

BIG EASY WINE DECOR

STAFF

We had a waitron named Jonathon serve us who gave us the best service we’ve ever had in a restaurant.  He was polite, relaxed and very knowledgeable on what we should and try.  He also ensured we always had topped up wine glasses and a glass of sparkling water at our side.  Plus, he was hilarious, and joked with us the whole evening.  He most definitely added to our overall experience.

This young guy is such an asset to a restaurant like the Big Easy.  If only all waitrons had his personality!

We were also lucky enough to meet the head chef Janine Fourie, who is friendly, humble and so warm.  Her food definitely reflects her personality!

MEAL

We tried three courses each (a hugely ambitious move on my part but I was ravenous when we arrived).  They were all completely and utterly amazing.

BIG EASY RED BLEND

To drink we shared a beautiful bottle of the Big Easy 2016 Red Blend – we’d tasted it when we had dinner at Vasco’s near the beginning of the year, and as soon as we saw it on the wine list, we knew that was it!  It’s just the most stunning, smooth and easy drinking red wine.

Johnathon also brought us a a beautiful warm corn bread with paprika butter which was lovely.

Yoh but this bread was beautiful!

We each ordered a dish and we shared both, to fully get a taste of the meals.  We actually do this most of the time when we eat out.  It makes dining our that much more interesting, and we’re more interactive in our time out then too!

STARTER

Oxtail and Marrow Fritters

Chef Janine’s signature bites

Also known as the best thing either of us has put in our mouths ever.  These fritters were phenomenal.  Melt in your mouth crust and super soft meat, plus the aioli and pickled onions and carrots with them.  I very seriously considered asking to cancel my main and just have another portion of these babies.

We’ve actually already started planning to take our siblings (the hubster’s two sisters and my sister) here for this specific dish, when they’re all home for the Christmas holidays.  And we’re telling everyone we know how amazing the fritters were too.

The only criticism we had is that the very high-edged bowl made it hard for Nick to cut them into smaller bites and dip them in the aioli and add some onion.  But we both think that they’re meant for dipping via the stick.  We just were desperately trying to make them last a little longer!

OXTAIL AND MARROW FRITTERS

Cape Malay Curried Shrimp Samosas

Medium spicy, toasted coconut aioli and home-made mango chutney.

These were a very very VERY close second to the fritters.  Four beautiful wedges of samosa, filled with curried shrimp, and with coconut aioli, mango chutney, coriander and toasted pieces of coconut.  I actually picked up the grilled piece of lemon, drizzled it over the dish and then made sure I got a little bit of both sauces and some coconut with each bite.

Absolute bliss.

CAPE MALAY CURRIED SHRIMP SAMOSAS

MAIN

Chef Sbu’s Peppered Rump Steak 300gr

Topped with Gorgonzola crumbs, beef biltong, crispy streaky bacon and sliced jalapenos and served with mashed potatoes.

When Johnathon was going through his suggestions for our main meal, he mentioned this meal, and I swear he was speaking to my husband’s stomach.  Nick loves EVERYTHING mentioned in this dish.  He immediately decided that he’d order this.

It arrived, cooked EXACTLY as he’d asked for it (not common, I’m afraid) and he couldn’t believe how good it was.  It was melt-in-your-mouth soft, superbly seasoned and the toppings just meshed together perfectly.

CHEF SBU'S PEPPERED RUMP

8 hour slow roasted de-boned beef short ribs

Anise and soya spiced glaze beef short ribs, cabbage and chard colcannon, balsamic onions.

I opted for this dish and I was so pleased with what arrived.  The spices in the glaze were amazing, you could totally taste the subtle exotic anise and soya but nothing was overpowering at all.  It was remarkable how nothing overpowered the other ingredients, yet you could still taste everything perfectly!  This with the delicious colcannon and balsamic onions was to me, the perfect dish.

I only had to take some home, just in an effort to not leave feeling insanely full.  Plus, I needed to keep some space for dessert.  😉

8 HOUR SLOW ROASTED SHORT RIB OF BEEF

DESSERT

Amarula Creme Bruleé

My hubby likes to say he doesn’t have a sweet tooth.  But if you’ve watched him hoover in a box of Oreos, you’ll know otherwise.

He went with the creme bruleé at Johnathon’s suggestion, and it was lovely, simple and delicious.  Not too sweet and perfectly made with a soft custard and crunchy sugar crust.  You could definitely taste the Amarula too.

AMARULA CREME BRULEE

Layered Chocolate Mousse

Milk chocolate and white chocolate mousse topped with decadent chocolate ganache.

I had no idea what to go for, and despite knowing I should have had something more like the selection of sorbets and fruits, I went with Johnathon’s suggestion of the chocolate mousse.

I was a little hesitant.  Firstly, chocolate mousse always seems to be much of a muchness everywhere we go, and I didn’t want to have something I could have just anywhere.  Secondly, I’d had quite a heavy meal and wasn’t really too big on having another heavy and very rich course.

Thankfully, I went ahead with it.  Because this was legitimately the best chocolate mousse I’ve had ever.  THIS is what it should always taste like. It was also so beautifully presented with fresh strawberries, mini meringues and a shard of nut brittle.

It was rich, velvety, and just beautiful!  I just wish I could have squished that last bit into my stomach, but alas, there was no room.  Definitely a dessert I’ll be back for!

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

 

OVERALL

Our overall take away from the night at Big Easy?  Amazing.  Fabulous service, fantastic food and wine and a lovely relaxed atmosphere that you don’t find just anywhere.

We’ll most definitely be back, and have decided to have our first wedding anniversary dinner there too!

 

**DISCLAIMER – while we were treated to a complimentary meal on behalf of Big Easy, all opinions are honest and our own.**