Casino quick-bites and other fare

Cafe Vigour at Durban’s Suncoast Casino has three dining areas – this spot leading from the casino floor, another in a space overlooking the casino entrance passage, and a third in a cosy bar area.

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BILLY SUTER had a pleasant surprise when he visited Durban’s Suncoast Casino recently and bumped into chef Lyndon Cresswell, formerly of the popular Lingela buffet restaurant at the Southern Sun Elangeni. Lyndon is now in charge of the kitchen at Café Vigour, alongside the casino entrance, opposite the cinema complex there.
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CHEF Lyndon Cresswell is a charmer who, long based at Durban’s popular Lingela buffet restaurant at the Southern Sun Elangeni, moved over to the neon-lit wonderland of Suncoast Casino last December. He took over as chef at Café Vigour which overlooks the entrance passage at the casino.

Chef Lyndon Cresswell with the yummy spread of Cafe Vigour cake options

He loves to ensure diners have a good time, so to arrive at the restaurant-cum-coffee-shop and see his welcoming smile in the open-plan kitchen made me feel quite happy about reviewing the menu, which has seen a few new items added by Lyndon in recent weeks.

The visit marked my first to the restaurant which, formerly a branch of Circus Circus for nine years, became Café Vigour some three years ago, seating about 138 people in three areas – a spot overlooking the entrance passage, a cosy inside bar area and a more plush smoking area, with chandeliers, that is also accessed from within the casino.

The casually elegant venue is ideally placed in the casino for a quick bite and/or cocktail for people generally more eager to get back to the coin machines and roulette tables than relax over a meal.

Café Vigour offers breakfasts, sandwiches, cakes, wraps, burgers, grills, fish and chips, curry and pizzas, all of which are great for a quick bite

However, lingering longer, over a three-course meal, made for a pleasant evening recently.

Amiable and knowledgeable waitress and restaurant supervisor Renee Sewell, who has been  at the restaurant for two years, proved a big help when it came to sourcing and describing the new menu items.

What immediately caught the eye of my partner, Gordon, was the table card advertising a special combining 350g of pork spare ribs, 300g of chicken wings and rustic chips, plus a Coke, for the good price of R135.

The ribs, chicken wings and chips special running until the end of September. It costs R135, and includes a Coke.

We decided to share one as a starter and although smoked ribs have been more to my liking of late, these were very yummy, very tender and the sweet sauce tasty, neither globby nor icikily sweet, as ribs can often be in Durban.

The sweetness was just right, and I’d highly recommend the dish, a popular choice the evening we were in. The special runs until September 30.

Starter options include various salads – including Chicken, Greek, Steak and Onion, and Butternut and Feta  – priced from R70 to R75. Sounding a lot more interesting, though, and listed under Easy Food options, are chicken livers with bruschetta (R55) and tomato chakalaka soup and toasted cheese (R55), both new items introduced on July 1.

The outside dining area at Cafe Vigour at Suncoast Casino.

New items on the popular pizza and pasta menu include chicken livers served with fettucine (R65), and the signature Café V Fettucine comprising spiced grilled chicken breast on fettucine with a cream and mushroom sauce (R75), or fettucine with grilled seasonal vegetables (R65).

Various pizzas range from garlic, mozzarella, tomato and basil (R65) to Durban mutton curry (R105).

Gordon opted for the enjoyable Signature Butter Chicken (R125) as a mains. It was not the best he has ever had but was good, served with basmati rice, a roti, papadum, pickles, sambals and a cucumber raita.

I was tempted to try the Bombay Bunny (R120) which has lamb and butter bean curry in a pot-bread loaf, served with minted tomato sambals and a mixed veg atchar. Also an eye-catcher was the chicken tremazzini (R75) –with cajun shredded chicken mayo, sweet pineapple and a red pepper salsa.

I instead settled on a new menu item, Lamb Meatballs in Curried Nut Cream (R95), which waitress Renee described as “a bit of an acquired taste”. I took that as a challenge and ordered it, finding it interesting.

It has tiny lamb meatballs infused with ginger and garlic, and is served with basmati rice in a karma sauce with sambals. I enjoyed, but don’t think I would rush back to order it again, the meatballs having been just a little dry and just a teeny bit chewy for my liking, that tasty sauce notwithstanding.

Puds are a little dull –  chocolate brownies, waffles and ice cream – so I’d suggest you instead try a slice of one of the cakes that take pride of place under individual, large glass domes on a table near the entrance.

A little hefty at R45 a slice, perhaps, but Gordon and I were very happy with our shared Death By Chocolate, with layers of choc mousse, and the carrot cake and red velvet cake on display the evening we were in also looked pretty good.

FACTS WORTH KNOWING ABOUT CAFÉ VIGOUR….

Address: Suncoast Casino, Marine Parade, Durban beachfront

Telephone: (031) 328 3277/79

Hours: Monday to Thursday from 8am to 10.30pm; Friday to Sunday from 8am to midnight.

Waitress Renee Sewell at the Cafe Vigour kitchen at Durban’s Suncoast Casino.
The open-plan kitchen and, right, bar area of Cafe Vigour at Suncoast Casino.
The main entrance to Suncoast Casino in Durban.

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