A friend asked: “What are you doing for your birthday? Let me treat you to a meal at a new place that’s opened off Florida Road.” Hence my first Spice experience at one of KwaZulu-Natal’s finest a-la-carte restaurants. There’s nothing like word of mouth to set the ball rolling, and seven years later, it’s busier than ever, after moving two years ago to its new home, a charming old turn-of-the-century house at 362 Lillian Ngoyi Road (Windermere Road) in Morningside.
Consistently accorded five stars by food critics and diners in the know, Spice is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Russell Burger and Linda Govender.
He is the genial front-of-house host, she the genius in the kitchen, and their shared passion for catering makes no concessions to turning tables over in the interests of boosting turnover.
“We cater comfortably for 50 people, never more than 60. We encourage our patrons to spend the evening with us,” says Burger, “rather than taking in a show before or afterwards.”
The restaurant is ideally geared for this; its French doors open generously onto a spacious veranda that circles the house, creating a free flowing ambience for functions booked in the summer months. Upstairs a comfortable leisure lounge is ideal for after-dinner coffee and cognac.
While Spice’s famous a-la-carte menu keeps its focus on beautifully prepared, hearty home cooking which remains a constant draw card with regulars, Govender also enjoys being creative with seasonal specialities that lend variety to the cuisine on offer.
A graduate of the ML Sultan Hotel School, she grew up with a love for the hospitality industry. “I guess it’s in my blood. My mother was housekeeper at the Edge of the Sea Hotel, the sister establishment to the old Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks. This is where I started professional life, and where Russell and I met when he became duty manager, after switching from game farming in the Eastern Cape.”
The couple headed inland for a stint in managing Moorcroft Manor in Underberg in the spectacular Southern Drakensberg.
“We loved the mountains, but eventually found we missed the sea too much, so we headed back to the coast to open our own restaurant. We’ve never looked back.”
Aside from its quality menu, it is the art that is for sale on its walls, that offsets the venue’s homely atmosphere. All of which makes for loyal patrons.
»?Open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday and for Sunday lunches. Bookings on 031 303?6375