BY BILLY SUTER
I WROTE just over a year ago that service at the Vasco’s restaurant at the Hilton Durban was friendly and attentive, and that the colourful venue had a warm ambiance and was certainly worth a treat visit.
On my first return visit to the Walnut Road venue at the weekend, to sample the regular Saturday night Flavours of the East-themed buffet there, I was happy to again tick all those boxes.
Good news is that the hotel and this site are giving away a voucher for a meal for two at the Saturday buffet. Details on how to enter appear at the end of this article.
Known since 1997 as the Rainbow Terrace, the Hilton Durban hotel’s third-floor restaurant, which leads on to a spacious, beautifully lit undercover terrace, got its new name and a complete makeover in May 2017.
It was named Vasco’s after Vasco da Gama, the first European sea-faring explorer to sail into Durban bay on Christmas Eve, 520 years ago.
The venue remains a buffet as well as an a la carte venue, serving both breakfasts and themed buffets, and, as I wrote last year, offers a much more contemporary and elegant look than its predecessor.
Richly coloured in chocolates, oranges, tans, coppers and accents of blue and mustard, the contemporary design was intended to conjure a look and feel that is uniquely Durban, says a spokesman for Hilton Durban.
Think hot and sultry, a mix of styles which evoke rich textures and flavours of the city, yet still create a welcoming, friendly, feel-at-home atmosphere.
The Durban influence is evident as you arrive – the reception desk resembles a traditional beer pot, and is backed by a glass wall featuring spicy colours designed to reflect the city’s Indian influences. Just beyond the reception is a striking wall feature depicting hills and mountains.
The pillar behind the desk suggests wooden bracelets, continuing the theme that celebrates the fusion of cultures that is Durban.
The new restaurant is of note for a tandoori oven that takes centre-stage at the buffet counter, and it’s rather fun watching amiable staffer Anis Ahmed making various naan breads and, by special request from my partner and I, crispy pappadums, while you check out the tasty treats on offer.
On most nights, The Vasco’s interactive, live-cooking station and various spreads offer everything from an assortment of seafood grills, curries, pasta and pastries to dishes prepared, while you watch, in the tandoori oven.
On Saturdays, however, the emphasis is on things spicy and nice, with the offerings changing weekly but always with three to four curries on offer.
I was told this by food and beverage staffer, Reshan Dhora, who, in smart mustard jacket, welcomed us to the venue and directed us to our table where, as was the case for all in the restaurant a complimentary Bombay Crush drink awaited us.
We had a choice of some great showcase Eastern dishes, among them a lamb roghan josh which was very tasty, and a trotters and sugar beans curry for the more adventurous (my partner shied away with brisk waves of his hand, but I sampled it and I quite liked it, without raving).
A broad bean and potato curry was also available, while a very tender, creamy butter chicken dish kept my partner smiling for much of the evening.
I was impressed with the ginger and carrot soup on offer, but top prize for me was the tandoori red snapper, perfectly cooked fish smothered in special spices, which came highly recommended by chef Anis.
I also thoroughly enjoyed a mix of starter tidbits that included mini potato samoosas with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, and three cubes of spiced, rather hot pineapple cubes on a skewer in a dainty jar. Nice presentation.
My partner gave a thumbs-up to his starter choices of a dainty eggplant and mutton kofta, tender chunks of tandoori chicken with naan bread, and aloo bhaji. Also worth considering were the cumin pancakes with hummus and tomato chilli oil, while a mattar paneer was also available the night we were in.
The salad selection the night we were in included a cucumber and mint yoghurt, masala chicken salad, a lettuce and tomato assortment, and a sliced carrot salad with strawberries and dhania.
As for puds, the variety and display is a wonderful sight for those who love a sugar high, and when we were in included a platter of koeksusters (just a little too dry for my liking) and a tier of assorted sweet meats.
Cakes, both light and dark choc mousses in glasses, Turkish Delight cubes, assorted dainty confections, skewers of fresh fruit and a chocolate fountain are also there, along with an impressive cheese board with grapes and assorted nuts.
All in all, plenty on offer… including roast chicken and vegetables the night we were there.
The Saturday special curry buffet costs R280 a head and is proving popular. The night we were in there were two large birthday party groups. It’s certainly a great place for a celebration.
From Sundays to Thursdays, Vasco’s offers what is billed as an “international” buffet, featuring the usual roasts, curries, puds and the like. The cost is R320 a head.
The Off the Hook Friday seafood buffet (R355 a head), and a daily breakfast buffet is also available.
Dinner is from 6.30pm to 10.30pm. The breakfast buffet is from 6.30am to 10.30am Mondays to Fridays, 7am to 11am on Saturdays and Sundays. To book or for more information phone 031 336 8100.
WIN A CURRY BUFFET MEAL FOR TWO AT THE HILTON DURBAN
To put yourself in line to win a voucher for a meal for two people to attend the sumptuous Saturday night curry buffet (6.30pm to 10.30pm) at the Hilton Durban, you simply have to be a follower of my site. At no cost.
If you are not already a follower, simply leave your email address in the space provided towards the end of the cover page of this site, sosuterbill.com
You will then be a follower, and receive email notification whenever I file a new story.
Once you have subscribed (there is no cost), send your NAME and PHONE NUMBER via email (NOT THIS SITE’S CONTACT FORM) to firstname.lastname@example.org and place the words ‘HILTON DURBAN CURRY BUFFET’ in the subject field.
The lucky winner of the meal voucher will be chosen and notified after 6pm on Thursday, July 12. Good luck! (Note: The winner was Priscilla Broscombe)
NOTE: PLEASE READ ENTRY DETAILS CAREFULLY AS SOME PEOPLE ARE ENTERING COMPETITIONS INCORRECTLY.
ALSO NOTE THAT ONLY ONE ENTRY PER SUBSCRIBER WILL BE CONSIDERED.