In this week’s edition of Tales of an African Bartender, Ryan Duvenage pays a visit to a new little hotspot in Durban called Jilera…
First off, apologies for not posting anything in a while…Between a recent trip to France with G’Vine Gin (which you can read about on my blog) and World Cup madness, my writing time has been quite limited of late!
Hopefully I’ll be getting back into it now though and this week I want to talk about one of my favourite things – having a drink in a nice new bar!
First off, in the interest of journalistic integrity, let me say that this review is not entirely impartial as I have been quite involved in development of the bar program at Jilera. As always however, my only goal is to see better drinks and better bars, so with that in mind I will try to present as fair and accurate a review as possible.
The latest addition to the Durban bar scene is the cosy and beautifully located Jilera. Taking over the lofty upstairs space on the corner of Windermere and Innes Roads (The site of the greatly missed Home), owner Bryce Kennard has transformed the place into an intimate but relaxed restaurant and cocktail bar. The beauty of this venue for me, has always been the way that the fairly small space can seem lively and fun with even a handful of people in it but can still function effectively on those packed Friday nights when the numbers move into the hundreds. The wrap around balcony and open plan design give the venue an airy, urban loft feel and I think come summer, this will be one of the best places in Durban for a warm evening sundowner.
The bar at Jilera has been a big focus for the team and in addition to a focused menu of refreshing and classically inspired cocktails they also boast a wide selection of beers (on tap and bottled) including the excellent Robson’s and Brewers & Union ranges I wrote about recently. As so often happens when launching a venue, the bartenders are a new team but enthusiastic and dedicated with some potentially great bartenders and they’re definitely putting in the hours to build up the service levels. Try the signature Jilera Collins, a refreshing Collins style cocktail with muddled citrus and gin and inspired by the easy going style of the bar.
The restaurant side is finding its feet around an ambitious menu but I think the mass rushes of World Cup traffic are a challenge for even established restaurants and once the soccer fans move on, I think Jilera will become an excellent venue for their tappas and locally inspired food. Try the gourmet Bunny Chows or the extensive tappas menu.
As with any new venture of this kind there are bound to be a few teething problems but Bryce and his staff have been working hard to ensure the high standards they’ve set for themselves. Stop by and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and easy going crowd – definitely one of the better places for a drink in Durban.
031 312 9605
101 Innes Rd,
Corner of Innes and Windermere Rd,