When looking at some popular food trends for 2020, one that really stood out to us was experiential eating and drinking. Dining out has become so much more than just having food cooked for you by a chef – it’s also about the experience. Factors such as location, interior design, plating and serving, preparation of the food and drink and the restaurant or bar staff all contribute to the eating and drinking experience, enticing all the senses and taking it from good to unforgettable! We visited three local spots, both new and already established, to sample some of their speciality dishes and drinks that form part of a fantastic eating experience.
Champagne and Oysters at FISH
If you’ve visited The Market at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre recently, you will have noticed the gorgeous Champagne and Oyster Bar that FISH have created. It’s well worth a visit next time you are there! The decor itself sets the tone for the eating and drinking experience, with gorgeous colours and lavish finishes, catering for the distinguished customer. You’ll receive the same friendly service that you’ve come to expect from FISH, but the champagne and wine bar and the range of unique oysters offer something completely new and exciting.
If you’re a fan of oysters or want to taste your first one, this is the place to do so. As an oyster fan, I couldn’t wait to try some of the different oysters that the bar had to offer, including my first-ever warm oyster, and I was not disappointed. The oysters are either local or from Knysna, fresh and perfectly shucked to reveal the tasty meat inside. Sitting at the gorgeous bar area, your oysters are served to you on wooden boards, along with your glass (or bottle) of bubbly, making for a great afternoon or evening out.
The first oyster I tried was the Thai Oysters with lime and cucumber granita – DELICIOUS! The sweet and spicy Thai-inspired flavours were a nice touch, and the cucumber granita added that freshness and a wonderful cold sensation, finishing off the dish perfectly. The warm oyster I was served was the Rockefeller, with spinach, bacon, parmesan and a touch of sambuca, topped with panko crumbs. It was like nothing I have ever eaten before! The combination of ingredients and flavours worked so well together, and having the oyster served warm did not take away from the flavour and texture at all. Enjoy your oysters with some incredibly bubbly options, served by the glass or bottle. If you’d prefer wine, this is on offer too, and on tap! For a unique, more sophisticated dining experience, without the pretentious feel, the Champagne and Oyster Bar at FISH is a must-visit in Ballito! Look out for some exciting new developments to the bar in the near future.
Corona Cocktails at Horizon Bar
This new spot is located above Crush Nightclub in the Ballito old town, and it has been open for a few months now. One of the first noteworthy aspects of Horizon Bar is its magnificent view of the ocean. It’s what you see when you walk in and sets the tone for what’s to come. As you reach the top of the staircase and entrance to the venue, you’ll be greeted by friendly waiters who will gladly assist you during your visit, making you feel welcome and well looked after.
As the majority holder of the Corona Sponsorship in Ballito, owner Matt has really gone to town with the decor, creating a unique, chic beach-bar themed look that really lends itself to the atmosphere. Corona is featured throughout, including in Horizon’s signature drinks. You can’t visit them without trying their delicious Corona Sunset! A mix of Corona, vodka, elderflower syrup and lemonade, this mix really sets the tone for an amazing afternoon or evening spent enjoying great views, tasty food and some quality time with friends or family. The drink was created specially for Horizon and inspired by what they have going on, so you won’t find it anywhere else. If vodka is not your drink of choice, you can also try the Corona Sunrise which features gin and spicy mango instead. Served iced cold, while watching the sunset over the ocean, in a vibey location is what makes this experience one for the books, and will keep us coming back time and time again. There’s nothing quite like it in Ballito. In addition to their drinks, Horizon Bar also has a great food menu, with their chicken burger being the standout dish to enjoy with your Corona cocktails.
Truffled Carbonara at Lupa Osteria
Anytime we visit Lupa in Ballito Lifestyle Centre, we have a wonderful meal and great service. However, when we heard about their Truffled Carbonara finished off in a Parmasan cheese wheel, we knew we had to experience it for ourselves, and what an experience it was! While your pasta is being prepared, a beautiful big cheese wheel arrives at your table, with one of the managers who are experts at preparing the dish. The cheese wheel has been halved and the inside has been carved out, creating a big bowl-like space where the pasta will be placed. Before the pasta can be added to the cheese wheel the manager starts off by using a blow torch to soften the top layer of the cheese. He then takes a fork and scrapes around the inside of the cheese wheel, grating bits of cheese off the sides and bottom. Your Truffled Carbonara pasta, with cream, mushrooms, bacon and truffles, then arrives still in the pan, looking delicious as is, hot and ready to be added to the cheese wheel. Then, magic happens!
Your pasta is emptied into the cheese wheel and mixed with all that delicious grated cheese, melting as it is immersed with the hot pasta. YUM! From the smell, to the sight of your pasta mixing with the cheese, to the taste – it makes for a truly special eating experience. Our excitement built as the cheese wheel was prepared in front of us at our table, and we were not disappointed when it came time to eat our pasta. The manager who was in charge of finishing our dish in the wheel was wonderful at talking us through the process and making us feel involved. Originally developed by Lupa’s Executive Chef, Chris Black, you can experience this dish in Lupa’s across the country, and we’d highly recommend that you do!