BILLY SUTER pays a visit to the new Tatso buffet restaurant occupying the old A2A buffet space at Sibaya Casino, near Umhlanga. It opened over the festive season, not long after Durban welcomed the new Billy G buffet restaurant at Suncoast Casino.
DURBAN’S second new casino buffet restaurant to open in the space of a few months, Tatso at Sibaya Casino, near Umhlanga, offers a more comfortably low-fuss and more streamlined set-up than this casino’s previous A2A buffet . It is also good value for money and should hold much appeal with families.
The first big plus is the reasonable cost: R185 a head is very good for the variety on offer. Plus there is the bonus of a choice of popular soda fountain softdrinks – as well as tea and coffee, including cappuccinos – being included in the price.
”The restaurant title is a Sotho word meaning ‘taste’,” explains the restaurant’s manager, Denzil Naidoo, who points out that the cost of the buffet has been kept down to encourage more families to visit.
The fact that there is no waitering staff – cold and hot drinks are also all self-service, and there is a tiny bar in the same drinks area should anyone wish to buy alcohol – means the only staff are those folks serving and replenishing food at the buffet counters or clearing it from tables. Even condiments and cutlery are a self-service affair; and I think it works well.
The waiter-less service concept has been adapted from the popular German/Italian brand, Vapiano, I understand. It is only the second franchise of its sort in South Africa – with the first having opened at Sun International’s new flagship, Time Square in Pretoria.
Another cherry on top for those feeling the bite of rising costs is that Tatso restaurant allows, per party, free dining to a maximum of two children under the age of five. Children over the age of 11 are charged half of the R185 entry fee.
As he ushers my partner and I to a table, Denzil is quick to apologise for some faulty flashing globes in one of the large clusters of globes that fill the circular ceiling of the large restaurant. It is being sorted out soon, he assures us.
Tatso occupies the now-refurbished space that for years featured the A2A (AfricaToAsia) buffet at Sibaya Casino and I prefer the new look. The room, with large windows draped in pale teal and pale salmon curtaining, is much more spacious, a tad more contemporary, with the absence of the large, potted plants and rather clunky, curved, wooden booth seating that dominated A2A.
All that has now given away to more conventional square and round tables that can be joined to make up larger family groups if required, a practise restricted in the A2A layout.
Otherwise, the room has the same towering rural-themed murals it always had, the same carpeting, and the buffet’s same large, brassy, metallic hoods with chimneys, two of which reach to the ceiling.
The buffet has a new pay format now, involving guests arriving and buying an entry card for the main buffet offering. Every night at least three specialty items are also available – a choice of six prawns, a plate of mussels, lamb chops or sirloin the night I was in – and to enjoy one of these dishes, one needs to pay for what is called an “add-on card”, for another R75.
The main buffet featured a good mushroom soup and assorted breads among starters – and I particularly liked the crispy, broken-flat-bread variation of a bread stick. Four flavoured butter choice were available – smoked paprika, basil pesto, black pepper and garlic with parsley.
There was an adequate salad and assorted cold meats section when I was there, and this included picked fish, dainty portions of couscous and olives, and tuna on lettuce.
The night I was in the interactive counter, which Denzil says will be ever-changing, focused on pasta and offered chicken and mushroom pasta, spaghetti bolognaise or spaghetti napolitana.
The mains section featured roast chicken or roast beef with butternut, rice and potatoes as vegetable choices, but the beef slice I sampled was cold and too dry for my taste, so I instead headed for the curries. A really nice curried fish and an excellent lamb curry were popular picks, as were the crispy, coin-sized chicken samoosas and thumb-sized vegetable spring rolls.
A chicken curry was also available, along with a tasty beef jalfrezi (beef stir-fried and served in a thick spicy sauce) and really nice lamb sausages.
The puds, it must be said, looked attractive but a little so-what, but both my partner and I were very surprised at how yummy they were. Best were a prettily presented square of layered mousses on a biscuity base, and a dainty mango cheesecake.
I also could not resist a small ice-cream cone – creamy, smooth, Italian Fabbri soft-serve, not the yukky, sorbet-like ‘soft-serve’ they have at some buffets.
The mini milk tart, with a firm, thin and crisp crust, was also a winner, but the chocolate eclairs, in spite of my partner’s eyes lighting up on spotting them, resulted in some disappointment, being rather shy on cream filling.
Tatso comfortably accommodates 155 diners and there is an additional private section which Denzil, with fair warning, will happily set aside for special occasions, at no extra cost. He recently hosted someone’s 100th birthday there, to great success, he tells me.
Denzil started out as a waiter at Sibaya Casino’s Aqua restaurant, he says during our chat, adding that he worked there for four years from 2005. He then went on to manage the casino’s Royal Court restaurant for two years before leaving to work at Coastlands in Umhlanga.
He returned to Sibaya Casino to manage Aqua from 2015, where he stayed until recently taking up the reins at Tatso.
The buffet restaurant is open from 6pm to 10pm every Monday to Thursday, 5.30pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 3pm and 5.30pm to 10pm on Sundays. A sign at the restaurant entrance points out that patrons have two hours to dine from time of payment and entry.
The Tatso phone number is (031) 580 5168.