1. 9TH AVENUE WATERSIDE
Seafood is the focus of this newly-relocated restaurant’s menu and there are several dishes that will pique a seafood aficionado’s interest – think prawn tails in squid ink linguini, crispy fried calamari (one of the best I’ve ever eaten) and soupe du poisson. The standout dish is a firm favourite for many 9th Ave fans - the creamy shellfish orzo with BBQ langoustine, baby lango tails and lemon foam. It takes the ingredients that you expect and turns them into a divine dish, making the langoustines the star, with the other ingredients in just the right supporting roles.
2. OYSTER BOX HOTEL
Diners at The Oyster Box Hotel are spoilt for choice when it comes to seafood, with several excellent dishes on the menus of both the fine dining Grill Room and less formal Terrace, including a fragrant, full-bodied chicken and prawn curry from their famous curry buffet and a seafood tasting plate that shows off the local fruits de mer. For its sheer decadence and perfect preparation, though, I have to say the Grill Room’s baby crayfish with shellfish butter is my choice. It is savoury, melt-in-your-mouth soft and the butter brings out the best favours in the flesh. A dish you’ll return for.
3. THE CHEF’S TABLE
I must say this upfront - the menu at The Chef’s Table is subject to change as dishes are designed around seasonal ingredients. However, seafood is always represented. Every dish created by chef Kayla-Ann Osborn is good but, if there is tuna on the menu, you’re in luck. Seared until the skin is just crisp, but leaving the flesh firm and full of the flavours of the sea, it’s served with seasonal sides and it is well worth forgoing some of the other tempting items on the menu for it.
4. BEL PUNTO
If you want a sea view as a side to your seafood, Bel Punto in Umdloti is a great choice. It’s got serious culinary cred, too, with delicious seafood dishes on the menu which range from simple to inventive. My top pick is their pairing of baby crayfish with angel-hair pasta. The tomato-based sauce is just aromatic enough to enhance the flavour of the crayfish and the pasta makes it a satisfying main course.
5. ILE MAURICE
If seafood’s your thing, better add Ile Maurice to your schedule. There are so many seafood dishes to choose from at this Durban dining institution, from a legendary gratin de crabe served in its shell and dripping with bechamel sauce to a rich seafood bisque and prawns any which way you can imagine. A must-try, though, is the Mauritian curry served with either langoustines, prawns or kingklip. It’s a unique dish that boasts authentic, fragrant Mauritian flavours.