Dialling Things Up at The Dante Experience, Umhlanga
Umhlanga has long been known for its holiday vibe; it’s the centre of entertainment for holidaymakers and locals alike. When you’re there, the combination of tropical humidity, palm trees and positioning right on the beach, just puts you in a holiday-kinda mood. It’s no surprise then that a trio of friends, twins Andile and Ayanda Ngidi and Trent Varejes, found a spot here to open what is surely the hippest and most stylish of bars/restaurants in Durbs – The Danté Experience.
The Danté Experience
Perched on McCausland Drive, right in the throng of Umhlanga, it is perfectly placed as a venue for sundowners, dinner, celebrations and more. The multi-roomed and multi-levelled space is more of a destination than just a bar or restaurant.
Depending on what (Danté) experience you’re after, you’ll find something that will tick the box here.
The Rooftop Bar
We started with cocktails upstairs at the Rooftop Bar. With a view out over the sea, stylish cane loungers and a fabulous drinks menu, this is the spot to kick off a night out.
The space is dotted with pops of dusky pink in the form of the most gorgeous velvet occasional chairs; plenty of indoor greenery and large woven mats complete the sultry tropical vibe.
We absolutely loved the Bahama Breezer cocktail, a lighter take on a tropical cocktail without the usual creaminess, served in a cool tiki glass. Also the uber-stylish Queen B, a vamped up Absolut drink with a berry reduction, honey syrup and pineapple juice.
The Main Restaurant
After drinks, we headed downstairs to the main restaurant. What is immediately evident is the obvious thought and attention that has gone into the detail of the interior design.
The space is a visual collection of colour and texture and it has a feel about it that is both energetic yet relaxing at the same time.
Modern cane furniture fits right into the style and the cheetah print upholstered chairs and jungle-esque wallpaper – obsessed! The design is flamboyant, eclectic and fits right in with the vibe of the area, in fact, it levels it up.
The menu is a mix of dishes with a thread of Italian flair and honestly, everything we ate was delicious and beautifully presented. The seared tuna and beef fillet tonnato was a standout, as was the pan-fried calamari with chorizo, chilli and olives. The avo and pancetta salad was also divine, with generous chunks of pancetta and the silkiest of Durb’s avos.
For mains, we asked for a recommendation and the langoustines were the chef’s suggestion. Similar to crayfish but slightly smaller, these crustaceans have a sweet meat and when cooked well, as these were, they slide out of the shells with ease. Brushed with lemony garlic butter and served on top of a beautifully seasoned risotto-esque rice – this was a sublime dish.
The Surf & Turf Espetada was a generous skewer of perfectly cooked 30-day aged beef, alongside a piece of melt-in-the-mouth grilled salmon. Both proteins were cooked beautifully and we ate every last bite.
To end things off we squeezed in (literally!) a Ferrero Rocher cheesecake (I mean really, how could you go wrong?) and an oozy and melty chocolate fondant with housemade gelato.
More to Come
The #DanteExperience doesn’t end there though. Once you’ve eaten you can opt to head to the gin bar, champagne bar or the signature bar, each with its own unique design and personality.
What is definitely guaranteed though is style and individuality within each space.
The staff at Danté, including our server Portia, were all full of that Durbs exuberance and friendliness and nothing was too much trouble.
As Danté only opened in Nov 2020 (amid the pandemic, how brave!) it has yet to go through a full Durban December season but this is undoubtedly is on the cards for 2021. However, the spot already exudes the confidence of somewhere that has been around for a while and is comfortable in its own skin. It will definitely play host to stylish holidaymakers and locals looking for an elevated drinks and dining experience throughout busy seasons and beyond.
9 McCausland Crescent, Umhlanga, TEL: +27 87 133 3263
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