Sometimes you don’t know how much you love something until it’s not there anymore. This was certainly the feeling amongst residents and outside guests who enjoy frequenting Simbithi Country Club’s Fig Tree restaurant while it was closed for construction for a few months. But now ‘The Fig’ is back and everyone is happy!
Their ‘famous’ Fish & Chips and Cashew Crusted Chicken, their incredible curry buffets and an atmosphere that is so festive and relaxing that no one ever seems to want to go home . . . these are just a few things that have kept people coming back to Simbithi Country Club’s Fig Tree Restaurant.
And now, after some ‘sprucing up’ and a full kitchen renovation, the restaurant, named for the beautiful Fig Tree that once stood at the centre of the club, is back in action and better than ever.
But while the main restaurant may have been closed for business, with some creative ideas and careful planning, the Fig Tree team still managed to keep diners happy for during the shut-down.
The restaurant and main kitchen closed in the second week of January and officially re-opened just a few weeks ago. Simbithi marketing and communications coordinator Jodi Chetty says it was wonderful to see the food and beverage teams come together and find creative ways to keep producing great food out of a very small ‘interim kitchen’, for the past few months.
“The whole team was working out of the halfway house kitchen, serving everything on the deck. Somehow though, we managed to keep our nightly specials running (like Mondays ‘mom’s night off’, ‘Teppanyaki & Sushi Tuesdays’ and the ever-popular Wednesday Curry Buffet), and the number of diners coming through our doors stayed consistent throughout the revamp.”
But the Fig Tree menu was limited during the process and, Jodi says, diners are thrilled to have their ‘Fig’ back in action. The renovation was very necessary, she adds, and formed part of a phased ‘master plan’ to upgrade the country club.
“The estate has grown and evolved and our facilities needed to be upgraded to keep up with the demand. We are currently at 80% occupancy with 6500 residents, and the external club memberships are growing rapidly as well. With a pax of over 400 in the restaurant and deck and three full event/conference venues, the kitchen was just not capably of coping with the volume of orders coming through. It was literally bursting at the seams!”
The carefully thought out, new-and-improved kitchen is of a much higher standard and has been structured in such a way as to ensure each ‘department’ within the kitchen has its own section to work in. The work flow is much more efficient as well, with a special cold room for desserts and an improved ‘pass area’, from which carefully plated fine dining meals can be served with ease.
And this was proven when, just days before re-opening to the public, the restaurant hosted the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs World Chaîne Day celebration with 180 people, including the president of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Afrique du Sud, in attendance.
The restaurant itself didn’t undergo any dramatic changes, apart from a few aesthetic improvements, which give it a fresher, more open and contemporary feel. It was officially opened on 16 April. “So many people told us that they didn’t realise how much they loved The Fig Tree until it was closed,” says Jodi.
With a bigger, more functional bar area and the ever-popular kids play park still in operation, the response from residents and visitors has been phenomenal. And Simbithi general manager Malcolm Samuel agrees. “We are exceptionally proud of our teams for their hard work in upgrading our kitchen and restaurant, and to our community for their support. We look forward to welcoming the greater Ballito back to the Fig Tree.”
Details: www.simbithi.com / 032 946 5403.
Text: Leah Shone | Photographs: Chris Allan Photo