The Restaurant: Braai Ranch
Relaxed, good value, delicious food: reasons why Shelley Seid keeps going back to the Braai Ranch
My latest culinary discovery fits right into the growing trend for informal eating. It's called the Braai Ranch and is run from the home of Yusuf and Razeena Randeree in the quiet suburb of Sherwood, Durban.
The Randerees took an unused piece of ground on their property and turned it into a takeaway and 50-seater garden restaurant serving some of the best braaied meat I've had in years. In Europe and the US, home restaurants - also known as underground restaurants or supper clubs - have been a growing trend over the last three years, frequented by the cool, the chic and those in the know.
For Yusuf, however, it was more about economics than cutting-edge fashion; he was sick and tired of exorbitant rentals. With 18 years in the food industry, having dabbled in everything from fine dining to fast foods, he found a niche. "It used to be braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet," says Yusuf. "The only change is that it's now a Quantum instead of a Chevy."
Like any underground restaurant, it advertises through word of mouth, which is how I came to be there one Friday night with a group of friends. It was the start of the holidays and we were not up to making choices between chicken tikka boti, mali boti (kebab-style chicken pieces), beef kebabs, lamb chops and mutton wors, so we ordered the lot, and threw in salads, chips and garlic rolls to boot.
Drinks are what you would expect at a beer-free braai - fizzy drinks and a range of fruit juices and bottled water. It's a chilled affair with not a stylista in sight. Just a lot of people wearing Crocs, sitting at plastic tables under a boma-style bamboo roof, and waiting for the mother of all braai areas behind the counter to produce the goods.
Run with military precision by Razeena, the venue is spotlessly clean, the service is efficient, and you are bound to stick around long after the final piece of boerie has been swallowed.
The tables were full and there was a healthy line for takeaways as well. Yusuf attributes his popularity to his previous life as a maths teacher. "Every pupil who passed through my hands is now married with in-laws and children - it's the exponential method of marketing."
The food arrived, piping hot, in aluminium containers. I couldn't fault a thing; the Greek salad was freshly made, the potato salad was wonderfully creamy and the meat was what you always hope for but hardly ever get from a braai - tender, juicy and distinctively spiced. We ate with commitment and determination but there was enough left over for a couple of breakfasts. The bill was the cherry on the top - the full meal came to less than R100 per person.
I was back a week later and have arranged to go with another group of friends this Friday. I suppose it just feels like home.
Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from late afternoon onwards. On- and off-site catering, including spit braais, is available.
The Braai Ranch, 49 Collingham Road, Sherwood, Durban, 0824670173.