Pretty penny for love

2014-02-14 00:00

HOW much are you planning on spending on Valentine’s Day dinner this year? Probably not a million dollars, unless you hire a Michelin chef and ask him to prepare a meal from the most expensive ingredients ever.

This experience is up for sale on a website to the highest bidder and the money goes to a charity. It may sound like something you would dream about but the reality of eating all the rich ingredients on the pricey list could have you reaching for an antacid.

British chef Adam Simmonds has offered to come and cook an eight-course luxury meal made of the finest food in the world including truffles, caviar, slow-cooked duck egg, Iberico ham and all sorts of sought-after delicacies served on the finest china and crystal.

Each food dish will, of course, be paired with the best wines in the world. The menu and the ingredients can be perused at

But if you are not in that league, and plan to go out locally for a bite to eat tonight, you are not likely to get away with a fancy meal for two for less than R550. Of course, you can go to the local pizzeria or McDonald’s but fine dining is going to cost you a pretty penny.

Do Valentine patrons get charged the Earth for eating out on this special night? … Probably yes! But Durban and Pietermaritzburg restaurateurs put forward their arguments. They said that their Valentine’s Day menus were designed to offer quality and value for money to customers.

All of the Durban restaurants The Witness spoke to were fully booked — some weeks in advance — for Valentine’s dinner.

The Oyster Box’s the Grill Room will offer a five-course meal at R590 per person and the more casual Ocean Terrace Restaurant four-course meal at R490 per person. There will also be live entertainment.

Spiga d’Oro in Florida Road is also fully booked but they do offer a take-away option of a picnic box for R600.

Bellevue Café in Kloof will offer their dinner guests a R300 per person menu served with champagne on arrival.

Daruma, an “authentic Japanese restaurant” at the Elangeni Hotel, started taking bookings in November, restaurant supervisor Jerome Buyeni said.

They will be offering live music and have two sittings, and Buyeni predicts that his most popular meal will be the seafood platter for two, which is priced R420.

At Olive and Oil in Glenwood they will be serving their guests a R275 per person set menu and a lunch menu, which by yesterday afternoon was still open to bookings, and which will set you back R99,95 per person.

Durban Limousine hire company Sunkab Limousines said they had fielded many calls but by yesterday afternoon had not received any car hire bookings. and were worried that they have not secured bookings.

Last year, their cars had been reserved well ahead of Valentine’s Day, manager Sudesh Komal said.

“Couples have been calling in but they haven’t made a booking,” he said, attributing this to the possibility that people do not have money this year to splurge.

A Mercedes limo ride for an hour will cost you R1 500, while a Hummer limo ride is R2 500 and this excludes meals.

Niel Fourie of the Actuarial Society of South Africa said he personally believes that Valentine’s Day is a marketing opportunity for businesses.

“You’ll find that on the normal day you get charged R150 for dinner but on Valentine’s Day it is R350. That is big money. The thing is they play an emotional card,” he said.

He said husbands or boyfriends are meant to believe that they need to pull all the stops for February 14.

With the interest rate rising, fuel hikes and a weak rand, Fourie said everything that gets consumed will also increase in price value.

He also fears that most of the South Africans are buying more than they can afford by buying with their credit cards.

“Short-term debt has high interest rates and one can end up paying up to 20% to 30% more,” he warned.

Fourie said there was nothing wrong with having something special at home.

This includes maybe leaving a bit early from work, cooking supper from scratch and getting flowers from your own garden.

“You’ll find that your own efforts are a greater gesture of love,” he added.

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