I can’t tell you the number of times I have been traveling up Sandile Thusi (formerly Argyle Road) on the Berea in Durban and felt very much like the Little Match Girl peering in wonderment into another world.
From the road one garners a champagne glimpse of serene dining elegance that is the restaurant Jam. The décor is tres, tres chic, with tone upon tone of luxurious silver, black and white - textures that rub shoulders with one another and the only flash of colour to tease your eye is the glow from fuchsia candles and roses. Very sexy indeed!
The Quarters on Avondale is a Cinderella story with a happy ending. The owners have combined three rather run down properties into one iconic Edwardian grande dame of a hotel with sweeping wrap-around verandas providing both shade and respite from Durban’s steamy summers.
Chef Claudie Dromgool has been involved with the opening of Jam from its inception – an opportunity that she is very grateful for. The menu reflects her passion, eagerness and palate. The restaurant serves both continental and hot breakfasts, lunch, and supper from Monday to Saturday and breakfast and lunch on Sundays. I have it on good authority that their eggs benedict is "to die for!” and that their home-baked selection of breads and cheeses are yummy.
We had dinner there and, as a starter, I chose the smoked chicken ravioli with saffron butter and crushed macadamia nuts – It was sublime. A delicate balance was achieved between the smokiness of the chicken and the fragrant sweetness of the saffron butter – the macadamia adding a nice crunchy texture. Starters are extremely well priced, ranging between R40 and R49.
Our main meals were no less impressive. With hubby Riccardo pronouncing the braised honey and chili lamb shank served with crushed parmesan potatoes as “the best that he had ever eaten!" I'll have to concur – just writing about it now is making me drool. I really enjoyed the duck breast with date and cashew nut stuffing on roasted butternut with rose jam and taglietelle. The duck was just right – still a little pink in the centre with crispy skin under which the sweet and crunchy stuffing was hidden. Both main dishes were accompanied by tasty roasted vegetables.
For dessert I just could not resist the mini crème brulee, liquorice ravioli filled with nougat and vanilla ice cream. It was a tough choice between that and the iced chocolate and pistachio soufflé with a vanilla and cardamom style coffee.
An all female management team will ensure a memorable and comfortable experience at the Quarters on Avondale. The combination of this hotel’s majestic beauty with the tastefully furnished restaurant, a sassy cocktail bar and a garden that boasts a myriad of herbs and scented plants - is completely ravishing. I'm sure there will be many beautiful white weddings and functions both private and corporate in this dreamy setting.
The Jam was reviewed by Janice Tripepi. Check out her INSANELY good food blog here.