When it comes to eating, I like choice, so the concept of a food court, where diners can choose from a variety of vendors then meet up with their party to eat together, has always appealed to me. I’ve had brilliant experiences at food courts overseas. In Durban, not so much. Food courts here lean to the cheap, cheerful and chain. Much to my delight, that changed recently with two new food courts on the Berea which have set tongues and taste buds wagging.
1. FLORIDA FIELDS
Florida Fields is an open-air courtyard prettily landscaped with ponds and flower beds in Florida Road. A quartet of converted shipping containers house food vendors and several cafes and restaurants occupy the adjacent brick-and-mortar buildings. The choice of using shipping containers juxtaposed with large-scale public artworks, including a pair of giant heads in copper, and a variety of trendy furniture, like nostalgic wire lawn chairs, makes this an interesting space which you can be sure will garner its fair share of Instagram hashtags.
The food offering is also eclectic, with Bunny Chows by Two and a Half Men, Glamwich and Seed serving exactly what their names suggest, and the Barn Owl (an off-shoot of the popular Midlands headquarters) serving good coffee. You also have the choice of chicken from Bird and Co, Asian from Flamin’ Wok and delicious sweet treats via Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream and Sugarlicious’s ice cream macarons (both heavenly). A groundbreaking addition is Bohemian Beach Bumz, which serves cannabis-infused edibles. Definitely something for everyone and sitting outside in the dappled shade is a treat.
Where: 295 Florida Road
2. THE FOOD BOX
The other establishment, aptly called The Food Box, is owned by One Fifty Capital and was conceptualized in collaboration with My Kitchen Rules SA season 2 finalists, Pashi Reddy and Kim Naidoo along with Pashi's brother Peroshin. Also styled as a food court, The Food Box houses seven food “pods” each with their own décor and delicacies. The feel is industrial with graffiti-like murals on the walls adding a touch of humour to the stylish space with its terrazzo flooring and mod pendant lights. The attention to detail throughout is subtle but makes for an overall sense that this is an upmarket space and the food follows suit.
Although the burgers and pizzas you’d expect at a food court are there, they are gourmet versions, with a soft-shell crab from Salt and and Turkish pide pizzas from The Rolling Pin standouts for our group. Japanese-style Kofu offers the experience of sitting at their triangular counter and watching the skilled chefs as they expertly produce your traditional Japanese teppanyaki.
I couldn’t resist the allure of duck spring rolls and prawn wantons at Kung Thai, which were crisp on the outside and soft and flavoursome inside – certainly a meal I will return for.
Although ideal for a midday meal, The Food Box comes to life at night with lights shining, music pumping and drinks flowing from the well-stocked cocktail pod, Artisan The Bar. Make plan to visit both day and night – there’s certainly enough culinary choice.
Where: 199 Peter Mokaba Road, Morningside