You always know your’e in for an experience when you get out your car and the music is so great you do bopping dance steps to the entrance, and the bouncers greet you with huge welcoming smiles.
The chef was bubbly, cute and effervescent. With a red bonnet perched jauntily over her hair net, she proudly showed me her selection of tasty cuts like, T-bone, brisket and chuck, huge, generous coils of fat, spicy and plain wors. Offal was well represented by dark rich liver and black tripe.
I may have over-ordered, because she shrieked and giggled, calling me a ‘Big Man’. When asked what extras I would like, I replied, all. An even louder shriek and more retorts of ‘BIG BIG MAN!’ while wielding a knife similar in size to her wonderfully compact (un-big) self. She helped us choose our cuts, readjusted her dark sunglasses and danced her way to the open fire.
Under the Moon is a unique premier lounge, but you are made welcomed even if you are dressed casually like I was (torn jeans, which may be the reason I was called Big Man). Other customers included a bevy of pretty ladies in elegant outfits with hats that would make any Durban July look rather dull. So, basically, Under the Moon is for everyone. I have never felt more welcome in my own city.
The staff proudly showed me around the many different experiences they have created in this two storey venue. An upmarket executive lounge with a large open veranda with a view over Inanda, with two very elegant private lounges for the many VIPs that come here, a chilled downstairs elegant bar and restaurant that spilled over onto the covered, outside dance floor. There was also a DJ box, that hosts the best DJs and dance events in Inanda, many spotless bathrooms, and several other places to chill.
The DJ was enthusiastic and read the crowd well, creating a convivial environment for everyone to enjoy the best of each other. The bars were well-stocked with a wide range of very well priced alcohol, and the largest collection of French Champagnes, cognacs and whisky bottles that I have ever seen.
The food arrived, and arrived, and arrived. Perfectly cooked, with soft squares of pap, fresh chutney, and the tastiest tripe ever, along with bean chakalaka, which my vegetarian guest wouldn’t share at all, but confirmed, via grunts and little squeaks of ecstasy, that it was indeed good. All this, surrounded by multitudes of happy people, posing for selfies with us, offering us way too many drinks and enjoying good loud belly laughs.
This is why I love Under the Moon and what makes it special. It wasn’t necessarily the chic private rooms, the elegant and relaxed bars, the infectious music and the crisp meat and smell of the shisa nyama. It was the people, and the passion of the staff, and an owner who is justifiably proud of his establishment.
I returned several times and each time was welcomed like family (even being introduced to fellow guests as ‘the man who showed us his bum’). This venue is large, it can be busy or intimately quiet, but, it is always welcoming. And for that reason, you’ll find me ensconced in my favourite location often, the quieter second floor lounge ‘Esibhakabhaken’ above the pool tables, where I can hear everyone, enjoy the DJ, while enjoying a feast made for me by the forever dancing chef in the red jaunty bonnet. All that, plus the view over Inanda and Kwa Mashu with their lights shivering with energy, reminds me how lucky I am to be a part of Durban.
Our bill for four came in at under R400, which included drinks, which are far cheaper than any Berea bar.
P.S. if you enjoy yourself too much… take advantage of the B&B… drive and party responsibly. Ample secure parking, and security staff and CCTV.
Judged by: Andrew Draper