To kick off 2015 with a gourmet start, the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga recently hosted an imaginative “Cuisine Crawl” flavour tour. If you’ve ever experienced a “tasting plate” at a restaurant, that serves to showcase bite-sized samples of its menu, the Oyster Box Hotel team expanded on this with a larger scale version: a showcasing of some of the treats offered at each of the food and drinks venues at the hotel.
Guests were invited to meet at the Gazebo Gardens, where the taste adventure commenced. A signature cocktail (with a kick!), poured by resident Oyster Box Hotel mixologist, Kwanele Sydney Mkhize, greeted guests as they arrived, and canapés were served.
General Manager, Wayne Coetzee, then led the guests to the next destination, the famed Lighthouse Bar, with a view as expansive as their cocktail menu. The starter, a trolley laden with house-cured smoked salmon, blinis, and various accompaniments nestled in clam shells, was rolled out. Knowing that there was more food to come, we attempted restraint in order to maintain some digestive real estate for the other courses, but the cold cured salmon with the cream cheese blinis proved irresistible and that restraint failed dismally. It was worth it.
The third stop on the tour was a long table laid out in the Colony Room, the private function area that is part of the OB’s fine dining establishment, the Grill Room. Guests were treated to anecdotes by Coetzee about the history of the hotel, its famed guests over the decades and its physical transformation from the teak and cast iron Oyster Lodge of 1886 to the world renowned landmark it has become today.
Plates of sustainable Kabeljou, parsley creamed potato, brunoise of plum tomato, capers and warm sauce tartar were served as mains, followed by a seafood selection of baby crayfish, baby langoustines, prawns, Norwegian salmon, line fish, calamari and local mussels. Served with lemon infused Jasmin rice, and options of rosemary and caper butter potatoes, burnt lime, habanero and coriander sauce, shell fish butter and a selection of chef’s condiments.
Turf-themed food followed surf, as second mains were plated up, a retro-inspired flaming chateaubriand of thick-cut tenderloin fillet, Portobello mushrooms, garlic and an ignited Madeira wine sauce. The stories of past and present regaled in the background by the GM was an apt soundtrack to the menu, which had hints of both past classical dish inspiration and modern interpretations.
The evening, and final leg of the tour, ended in the Palm Court, where the famous High Tea is usually held. A wide selection of confectionary was laid out, including macaroons, truffles, cakes and other various sweet treats. Executive Chef Kevin James joined the guests to wrap up the indulgent evening, mini Irish Coffees and Dom Pedros were served, bringing the journey to a satisfying, if somewhat reluctant, end.