I’ve wanted to pay a visit to Freedom Café for ages – I think it was the café-in-a-container idea that intrigued me – and I’ve finally ticked it off my What-to-Do-in-Durban list!

Why’s it taken me so darn long to get myself to this much-hyped Durban foodie venue? Simply because it’s in a part of town that I don’t get to too often! While it’s perfectly situated for the many surrounding businesses to grab a quick coffee with clients, a bite to eat at lunchtime or even after-work drinks, it’s a bit of a drive for me from the suburbs. The day we visited – a Saturday afternoon – found Freedom Café moderately busy with an eclectic crowd, from urban hipsters to suburban moms.

Freedom Cafe - Bold and Oversold?

All Style, No Substance?

We grabbed a table in the warm spring sunshine and took in the surroundings – an old leafy tree is the centrepiece for a lovely indigenous garden – a welcome respite for busy birds and lazy lizards in the heart of a (somewhat scruffy) commercial/light industrial area of the city. Although aesthetically pleasing, I was a little underwhelmed by the container café itself – it’s really quite tiny and somehow I’d been expecting more. As the afternoon unfolded, it became apparent that this wasn’t the only element oversold by the café’s bold promotional materials...we waited ages for anyone to attend to us, and longer still for our meals. Alas, the food didn’t prove to be worth the wait either – one quite unspectacular New Yorker Hotdog and one decidedly over-lettuced and under-salmoned Summer Salmon Roll. It could be argued that we chose unwisely – maybe we should have opted for something more substantial, which would have given the chef greater chance to shine – however neither of us had been in the market for a heavy meal, and I particularly wanted to try the Salmon Gravlax.

Foodie Fails:

  • Sloppy service
  • Average yet overpriced food
  • Kitchen staff putting their feet up front-of-house and yakking into their cellphones at the top of their voices.

But Here’s the Good Part…

It’s not all bad…the French fries which accompanied the slapped-together-supermarket-hot-dog-and-roll  were excellent –thin cut, crisp and served in a delicate basket. And the cocktails – well, quite possibly the very best in the whole of Durban! The venue itself is simultaneously chic and funky – as one might expect of a spot conceived and owned by an adman – and the bar features magnificent hardwood barstools with little foot rests…so magnificent, in fact, that we actually tried to buy them off the barman! Oh, and one final goodie…the café shares space with The Concierge – described as ‘boutique bungalows’ in a 1920s listed historical building. After a few rounds of those gorgeous cocktails, most convenient!

We Loved:

  • Those gloriously tart Cherry and Almond Daiquiris – featuring amaretto and sour cherries
  • Freedom Café’s spin on the classic Gin ‘n Tonic
  • The sausage dog benches – vintage reminders of the old Durban beachfront
  • Plenty of secure, off-street parking – with carguards.

Will I Be Back?

Not in a hurry, but should I find myself in that neck of the woods, the allure of those outstanding cocktails may well prove to be irresistible…

Try the Taste of Freedom for Yourself:

  • Call them on: 031-309 4434
  • Find them here: 37-43 St Mary’s Ave, Greyville, Durban.