Following the food: A rugby Championship culinary delight

18 August 2018 - 11:06 By Liam Del Carme
Following the food during the Rugby Championship offers a variety of delights from fine cuisine to basic (but the best) burgers.
Following the food during the Rugby Championship offers a variety of delights from fine cuisine to basic (but the best) burgers.
Image: Via Instagram

Enough already with bacon and eggs. No thanks to another burger or toasted sarmie. Stuff muffins. Even the budget conscious journo shouldn’t expose his culinary instincts to the unpalatable.

The destinations on the Springboks’ Rugby Championship calendar this year provides a veritable melting pot of taste options.

Here’s a rough guide that will even leave the Boks green with envy.

Durban

The Sea Belle may be situated in Tongaat in the middle of nowhere, but it is well worth the drive, especially when you want to escape all of Umhlanga’s nouveau trappings. The Belle describes itself as the ultimate destination for meat, grill and seafood lovers. The prawn curry hits the spot every time, although think twice before ordering the vindaloo. A dining companion once lost weight before my very eyes.

If you fancy a curry, but not the drive, head to the Brittania Hotel on Umgeni Road. Be careful not to step on a down and out gambler. 

For an authentic beach experience however, Beach Bums is hard to beat. Located en route to Ballito it offers pub grub, but it is your close proximity to the surf that kicks sand in the face of the opposition. 

Fancy a more relaxed feel? Here's your Durban option.
Fancy a more relaxed feel? Here's your Durban option.
Image: Supplied: Beach Bums

Mendoza - Argentina

At the foothills of the Andes, Mendoza’s high altitude terroir lends itself to Malbec, the grape variety that has made the region famous. Purple on the eye, robust and earthy on the palate, a glass of Malbec is best enjoyed with bife d’chorizo (sirloin steak) or ojo de bife (tenderloin). It is on most menus in Mendoza. Don’t take doggy bags, Mendoza’s street dogs will snap at your heels.

You’ll be spoiled for choice on Avenida Aristides Villanueva or Avenida Sarmiento, but better yet, for food and entertainment under one roof, head for the Gutierrez Bar on Gutierrez for a night you are unlikely to forget.   

Brisbane - Australia

Jimmy’s on the Mall in Brisbane’s CBD is an urban al fresco delight. Located in Queen Street’s pedestrian mall, it is said to be one of the most enduring outdoor restaurants in the city. If ever you have to eat in a mall, then Jimmy’s is it. It used to serve a Mongolian lamb dish that was sheer epicurean porn, but sadly Aussie chefs quickly get restless. It’s got the Aussie-Asian fusion down pat and even the scrumptious fish and chips looks and tastes great.

@brisbanecity, you’re looking fine today 👌 #jimmysonthemall

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For something a little more rough and ready the Victory Hotel, or the Vic to the locals, may be right up your street. The Vic has a quite splendid garden grill, perfect for watching live sport. Beware of the office parties though. And behave yourself , the local constabulary usually gets there in a flash.

Wellington – New Zealand

The New Zealand capital will blow you away. No, quite literally, the gusts coming in off the Cook Straight will have you reaching for the nearest lamppost.

Salt and pepper, I initially feared, were only recent arrivals New Zealand. Thankfully though, stronger Asian influences are increasingly finding a foothold. The Asian food court, which is a little hidden off Willis Street is a gem. The night market off Cuba Street provides midweek variety.

For kekabs that will linger well into the next day, head for Abrakebabra on Manners Street. Yes, you read that right. If you work weird hours, like touring journos tend to, the place can be a life saver.

If you’re absolutely desperate for a steak the Green Parrot on Taranaki might do it for you. You are bound to run into other South Africans. If the menu or the vibe is not to your liking, head for the door, turn right and take the first left onto Courtenay Place where Wellington will swallow you whole.

Port Elizabeth

For a civilised meal that dips its toes into the realm of a fine dining experience, then Ginger on Marine Drive is well worth a stop. Clean décor and clean flavours, Ginger is elegant but without the pretentiousness.

If you need to play with the millennials there is a burgeoning micro brewery scene, but for something a little more earthy, Fernando’s Chicken House on Richmond Hill is as real as it gets. Although the place has been spruced up, don’t go for the décor. It’s all about succulent chicken, zingy prawns, sticky ribs and best priced beer. It can get raucous but that is part of the charm. Bookings on Saturday evening are essential, especially if there is a big game in town. 

Pretoria

The capital has many fine dining options like Kream, Blackbamboo or Brasserie de Paris. If you want an authentic rugby experience pull in at Trademarx on the Loftus Versveld precinct. The T-bones are cheap and the kegs are always filled.

Thabiso at Mams in Mamelodi has lamb chops and offal that will keep you heading back. Take your dance moves with you.

For the nostalgically inclined, head to restaurant at the amphitheatre at the bottom of Voortrekker Monument. Yes, you read right. It’s décor smacks of the 1960s but the food can only be described as traditional boerekos and the wine is almost disconcertingly cheap. It is the probably the only restaurant in South Africa where white waiters will serve you offal.

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