Walmer grillhouse builds on success of 50-year-old franchise writes Louise Liebenberg
The Hussar Grill opened without too much fanfare in Sixth Avenue, Walmer this past winter and, in a relatively short space of time, has distinguished itself as a steakhouse of quality and popularity.
That is no doubt because the Port Elizabeth branch builds on a successful formula refined over more than 50 years: the original Hussar Grill was established in Rondebosch in 1964, and today there are 14 franchises, which fall under Spur, around South Africa.
Dynamic couple Louis Barkhuizen and Luandi Spies welcomed my husband, Salvelio and I to the Walmer branch – the Eastern Cape’s first Hussar Grill.
Luandi, whom everyone calls Landi, is from Johannesburg and Louis grew up in Mossel Bay. Both are working themselves to a standstill, but confided they do try to make a bit of time to explore their new city whenever possible!
Our excellent waitress, Asanda Yaze, who knew the menu inside out was equally friendly and welcoming and happy to guide us through the various options.
The Hussar Grill has a tradition where they bring the raw meats to your table on a display board, so you can get a better sense of each cut (they do the same with dessert).
This approach is probably not everyone’s cup of tea but, being rampant foodies, we rather liked it!
Before putting in our main course orders, we snacked on complimentary olives and crunchy onion bits, followed by creamy chicken livers sautéed in sherry, garlic, onion and herbs (R54). An inventive starter option is the “bitterballen” (R59) – deep-fried croquettes that were every bit as meaty and brown inside as when I had them in the Netherlands some years ago. Add a dollop of Dijon mustard and happiness is.
Go for Hussar’s beef or game
Hussar is a steakhouse, so it makes sense to go for flame-grilled beef or game, though burgers, seafood and chicken mains are also available.
Steak options are numerous; rump, fillet and sirloin from 200g up to 500g, or you can have it on the bone, which adds a great deal of flavour, as Salvelio discovered from his order of sirloin-on-the-bone (R150 for 400g).
I had fillet without the bone (R159 for 200g) and found it tender and well matured – the béarnaise sauce on the side was a pleasant addition.
Both orders were just right – blue for me and medium-rare (but leaning more towards rare) for Salvelio. Each grill order comes with one side – fries, mash, baby potatoes or small salad, so, unless you’re also having a second and/or third veggie side (at R25 each), your plate can arrive looking rather austere.
Sauces, too, are extra, ranging from R28 to R30. All of this adds up and can ramp up your bill, especially once you’ve thrown in drinks.
One plus on the wine front is that you are permitted to Bring Your Own. No corkage fee is charged, which is brilliant. And if BYO isn’t your style, do not fear – the wine list is extensive.
We had to think twice about dessert following our meaty mains, but Asanda twisted our arm and we went on to share a slice of delicious cheesecake baked in-house.
It was a pleasurable meal and the excellent service and plush interior (think moody lighting, crisp white tablecloths and napkins, and bookand wine-filled wall recesses) were a big part of the overall experience.
Hussar also has some tempting lunchtime specials that we are eager to try out.
“Looking around we saw so many happy people . . . and we imagined this is what Joel might have wanted”
I do feel compelled to share that it took me quite some time to call at Hussar, not least because I still had so much loyalty towards the late Joel Malkinson, whose restaurant used to be at these premises.
Joel always looked after us so well (and countless other patrons) whenever Salvelio and I dined at Wicker Woods.
Conveniently close to our home, it soon became our favourite restaurant and a place where many happy memories were made.
But, given Joel’s tragic passing a year ago this month, one almost gets the sense from some that it is not appropriate to mention him within the context of a new restaurant.
In time, I have come to realise that one way to honour someone of Joel’s talent, reputation and dedication to his craft is to remember him in a place that was like a second home to him; a place where some of his greatest creative moments were spent – and that is also why I believe it is fitting that these premises continue as a restaurant.
The Hussar Grill appears to be flourishing and this does give one a good feeling. Looking around we saw so many happy people – date-night couples; business folk; families celebrating good times together – and we imagined this is what Joel might have wanted.
Every time we visit the Hussar Grill, we will remember Joel with respect and affection. By not forgetting those who gave the very best of themselves, even in the preparation of the simplest dish, we keep their memory alive.
- The Hussar Grill is open daily for lunch and dinner. Bookings are on (041) 581-1734.