Away in Cyril Ramaphosa land in the coastal town of North Beach in Durban, there is a minimum spend of 100 Rand (about Shs 25,182) per guest for dinner at the high-end Havana Grill.
Easily an achievable feat, since even the least priced starter is 50 Rand (Shs 12,580) and salads can cost as high R120. Sharing of main meals here is also forbidden.
There is a corkage fee of R60 per bottle of wine and R150 per bottle of champagne if you prefer to bring in your own wine bottles; otherwise, be ready to part with R4000 (Shs 1 million) for a Dom Pérignon vintage champagne bottle.
Of course there are cheaper méthode cap classique (traditional French) wines, although that goes for between R270 (Shs 68,000) and R 595 (Shs 150,000).
Wine in a 180ml glass goes for a ‘paltry’ R60 (about Shs 15,000). You might be fooled by the cheap fast food shops, casinos and South Africa’s youthful revellers on the ground floor, but the dwindling crowds as you approach the upper floor are a signal to the price discrimination.
It is not the kind of restaurant you just saunter into and take up a table; prior reservation is a must. While many a restaurant pleads for diners, Havana Grill is different – the diners plead for their food and management reserves the strict right to admission. Each table has a fully dedicated waitress.
That said, the portions of food are kingly, akin to the huge amounts served in Ugandan restaurants. The pan-fried butter prawns are served with crisp and dry chips with lots of salads that I was seeing for the first time and a small plate of Biryani rice.
The prawns taste similar to our boiled nsenene (grasshoppers). Prawns are the best initiation to seafood for those who don’t like it. They are neither too fishy nor too meaty.
If you are among the minority few who can chew away the prawn shell when it is deep-fried and also suck on the flavours of the shells, at this classy Havana Grill that was impossible.