I make every effort, in this day and age to maintain a modicum of balance in my life. So, when I was offered a morning at Aqua – the ultra-chic spa at The Square on Umhlanga Ridge – I leapt at it. With my mind soothed and my body back on track with some good old fashioned panel beating I floated down to enjoy lunch feeling ever so revived and fabulous again at the Cosmopolitan Restaurant.
The Square opened in May 2010; the décor is beautiful natural tones of chocolate brown with elegantly interwoven textures and a smidgen of the vibrant heart chakra green to add some soul to the overall feel of the place. The Square is not another cold austere new boutique style hotel – bereft of emotion and character – on the contrary, the staff is totally on their game.
It has to be said that I was yanked out of my state of life-is-totally-wonderfulness the moment our first course arrived. Chef Steven Crawford, formerly employed as Sous Chef at Southern Sun’s Beverly Hills Hotel, is the newly appointed Head Chef for The Square Boutique Hotel & Spa in Umhlanga Ridge, and did he catch me napping or what. Steven has already won acclaim for his food and was awarded Chef of the Year in 2008 and the moment you start eating his food you know exactly why.
Our starter of fillet of fresh sole, stuffed with artichoke and a plump tiger prawn on a creamy butterbean purée with steamed baby clams and napped with a light yet deeply flavoured bisque got my eyebrows raised I don’t mind telling you. The scents of the ocean heightened by those little clams made one heady. The balance between every single element on that plate was amazing. I all but pounced on poor Chef when he came to our table bombarding him with loads of questions about the sole we had just eaten ….. And there it was, that Cheffie/Foodie glint in his eyes – they danced and sparkled as he spoke about the fresh fish and produce that he gets locally.
Next - an impossibly beautiful plate of Venison Carpaccio – with the lightest Dijon dressing, dressed baby rocket leaves and the neatest – crunchiest – freshest croutons I have ever tasted. Again – flavours married and balanced perfectly. Starters average R45 a dish.
This was followed by succulent and incredibly fresh fillets of swordfish nestled on a butternut puree – by this stage my taste buds were singing more praises than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! Steven’s food makes you smile – it is so good that it makes you slow down and settle into your chair to savour the moment and food.
I willingly offered myself over to this food coma – yet another dish came along to lift us higher – duck breast and confit leg of duck basted in a soy and honey marinade accompanied by coriander sweet potato mash and sesame-tossed bok choy.
The confit duck leg perfectly crisp envelopes steamy warming tender meat ……. Oh Wow! Mains range from R75 to R120.
The coup de gras – that which stole my heart completely was the amaretto crème brulee! Firm baked crème delicately flavoured with amaretto and bejewelled with a thin amber veneer, topped with amaretti biscotti. I could have cried…
Steven Crawford you are an exceptional talent. Your food is impeccable – exciting – beautiful and uplifting.
People of Durban and Umhlanga – if I were you – I would book a table at Cosmopolitan and with the assistance of Chef Steven, woo the pants off anyone with his sensational sexy food!