Silvervause Centre, 117 Silverton Road, Durban. Tel: 031 201 3470. unitybar.co.za. Mains R60-115. Pint of local draft craft beer around R25
Tucked away in a small mall in Musgrave, Unity Bar has a pretty unassuming position, but this is a real suburban gem. It’s more bistro than bar, though this small restaurant has very much become the best-known beer hangout in Durban. By day, there’s a chilled brasserie vibe; by night, the bar steps into the fore (though food is still served) – a fairly laidback spot that attracts hipsters, gourmands and of course, beer lovers.
Yes, this is a place that many come to for the beer,but the food on offer is not your everyday pub grub. Sure, there are burgers on the menu as well as bangers and mash, jalapeno poppers and a beef pie, but Unity’s fare is definitely elevated bar fodder. Ingredients are fresh, local and in many cases, artisanal – think charcuterie platters, and inventive salads. I ordered a burger and was pleased with the above-par ingredients – handmade patties, generous chunks of avo, perfectly-cooked bacon and soft sheep’s milk feta that’s full of aroma (not the crumbly stuff that tastes of little more than salt that I tend to have in my fridge). The curries also come highly recommended – this could be the only place in Durban (or indeed, the world) where you can order a bunny chow with a pint of local craft beer. Oh, and whatever you order get some chips on the side. They’re twice-fried and awesome.
When I wrote a review of Hudsons in Cape Town, I had to reference the young, hot, hotpant-wearing waitresses that the place is somewhat known for. So in the interests of sexual equality, I feel it my duty to mention that the male waiters at Unity are pretty easy on the eye… Should that not be of interest, you’ll be pleased to know that service is fast and efficient, with staff all having a good grasp of basic beer knowledge.
Unity’s biggest draw for the beer buff is that the entire That Brewing Co. range can be found on tap here – their APA and weiss are particularly good. Also on tap you’ll find beer from KZN-based breweries Old Main and Shongweni (though keep checking back as new beers are often added). Bottle-wise, there’s a pretty impressive selection, including the full Standeaven range and some specials from local nanobreweries as well as the likes of Darling, CBC and Devil’s Peak from the Cape.
If you’re a beer fan in Durban, put Unity on your must-visit list. The beer selection is wide and constantly changing (check the blackboards for specials), the service is smiley and the food is far beyond what most people would expect from a place best known for its beer. This is also the venue for meetings of the East Coast Brewers, KZN’s homebrewing club. Check their Facebook page for details of meetups and competitions.