Durbanites have waited with bated breath for Umhlanga Arch to open since the concept was introduced to the public four years ago. The mixed-use development, with its iconic architectural design, officially launched the first phase on 6 October with the Legacy Yard food court and retail space and the rooftop bar, Back Yard, welcoming their first customers.
The upmarket Legacy Yard is modelled on a European-inspired high street and offers a dynamic, informal, and interesting way of dining in a food-court-style setup, which works for modern customers and appeals to everyone from single diners and couples to families, businesspeople, and large groups — just the mix of people who will be using the facilities of the Arch. The building is home to residential, commercial, hotel, and retail spaces that are all slick and stylish with an industrial feel and graffiti art.
The restaurants are arranged around an open lawn which offers the delightful option of basking in the sun while you enjoy your meal on the grass or sitting on one of the myriad benches scattered around. If being indoors is more your vibe, there are numerous tables, many with breathtaking views, where diners can share meals with friends who have opted for meals from different restaurants. I’m a great fan of this concept and love the fact that I can have sushi even if my friends are after a pizza — what’s not to love?
The choice is fabulous, too, with 10 eateries in the food court and not one of them a chain. The Baron’s traditional homestyle meals, including steaks and ribs, are sure to tempt but you can balance it out with something nutritious and delicious from Mama Wanda Health Bar. The Rotisserie — a Peruvian-style chicken joint — is sure to be a hit and Wasabi’s sushi, noodles, and oysters have already got a following with the team famous for The Green Mango, a Durban dining institution, behind it. Obviously, no food court is complete without pizza, and Home Base promises pizzas that tell a story and provide an experience. Burgers are a must, too, and the Smokehouse’s offering is outstanding, with a focus on authentic BBQ methods of cooking beef portions for up to 12 hours in a wood smoker as originally done in Texas during the 1800s. This is Durban, so a food court without an Indian restaurant would be incomplete and Bachao does the job well — serving bold, authentic, deliciously different Indian street food fresh, fast, and in style. For dessert, there’s nothing better than Italian gelato from Momenti’s head chef, Edward Papaphotis — who studied the art of gelato and sorbetto in Bologna so you know you’re getting the real deal.
If you’re just after a quick coffee, Butterscotch is your friendly local café in the heart of the Arch serving up daily comfort food on the go as well as an array of groceries that you’d find in any corner store. If it’s later in the day and a drink is in order, head up to rooftop bar Backyard for cocktails with a view.