Happily, however, we had received several 50% off promotional vouchers at the Taste of Durban festival, so determined to take full advantage before they expired, we visited the restaurant twice in a month, once as a couple and once with friends.
The restaurant is located on the Eastern side of the mall, overlooking the Wavehouse and is an impressively large 300 seater. Front of house we were greeted (as expected?) by two bored looking model types, dressed for a night on the town, who ushered us to our table in their matching micro dresses before mincing back to their positions.
The initial service experience was frustrating, as we were descended upon by at least four different servers, each of whom offered us 'a bottle of water for the table', attempted to drape napkins over our laps and generally fell over one other. Once the help had settled down, however, and our eyes had a chance to adjust to the deep gloom of the restaurant interior, we were able to begin enjoying the experience, and page through the extensive menu, which features wonderful and exotic sounding 'regular' dishes (risotto balls with truffle aioli, deboned lamb ribs, marinated springbok) as well as a lengthy dim sum and sushi section.
We had come for the sushi, so the regular section of the menu will have to wait for a later review. To begin, we ordered a portion of Har Gau (translucent dim sum) filled with duck, honey and ginger. Service was prompt (our final waitress on our initial visit was lovely) and presentation was beautiful, with the three generously sized dumplings nestled in still steaming bamboo, and shaped in a way that I had not seen before, with a pretty tri-lobed finish. I would have enjoyed a more pronounced ginger flavour, but they were definitely delicious, with a wonderful soft mouth feel.
Next came a round of crispy, deep fried wontons, filled this time with beef, coriander and ginger. Again they arrived promptly, beautifully presented, hot and tasty.
An interesting offer on the menu was the bowl of Edamame beans. I had heard that these were a popular dish in Japan and China, but didn't realise until they arrived at the table that they are in fact simply immature soybeans, served steamed in their pods and eaten with salt. The characteristically hairy and rather drab looking pods, when broken open yielded up a surprisingly beautiful harvest of plump, shiny, jade-green beans. These offered a good test of my chopstick wielding abilities as I initially ate them one by one after manoeuvring them through a ponzu bath, before abandoning pretenses and popping them directly into my mouth.
Having visited the dim sum pages, we moved on to the sushi, and ordered a selection of California rolls, sashimi, something called a 'samurai roll' and the 'tuna crunch' which involved tuna tempura rolled with cream cheese before being tempura battered a second time (purists, look away).
When we visited as a couple, all of the dishes which we ordered were presented on a single plate, which was a nice effect. Generally all of the sushi we ordered on both visits was well constructed, fresh and tasty, although I felt that too much mayonnaise was in use, something which I feel detracts from the fresh, Asian flavours of really good sushi.
On our first visit we bypassed the deserts and ended instead with an apple martini lolly - there are several variants of these alcoholic ices, and they are served in a retro ice lolly shape. Good fun, and a great palate cleanser.
When we did try the deserts, they were out of the chocolate fondant that we had wanted to order, and so I had to fall back on the crème brûlée. It was a pretty good effort, with vanilla seeds spotted through the silky smooth custard, but I still felt a bit disappointed. I think that perhaps crème brûlée has been overdone to the point that only making them at home still holds much appeal - rather stick to the lollies.
With its sophisticated interior, extensive, well executed menu and great wine list, Sevruga is a welcome addition to the Durban restaurant landscape. If they can tone the service down to an unobtrusive level (without venturing into the neglect we experienced on our second visit) and perhaps sort out a few issues with availability there will be very little on which to fault them. Fun for a date night, or an evening out with friends, I rate it worthy of a third helping.