THE NA­TURE OF Free­dom

FOOD THAT’S FUN AND IMAG­I­NA­TIVE, IN A SET­TING THAT’S AS COLOURFUL AND VI­BRANT AS ITS HOST CITY: THAT’S WHAT AWAITS YOU AT DUR­BAN’S FREE­DOM CAFÉ

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - DOWNTIME - WORDS DEB­O­RAH RUD­MAN PRO­DUC­TION MA­RI­ETTE THERON PHO­TO­GRAPHS ELSA YOUNG

‘You can only be truly ac­com­plished at some­thing you love.’ So wrote US award­win­ning au­thor Maya An­gelou, and it’s a phi­los­o­phy that chef-pa­tron Lucy Markewicz lives – and cooks – by.

Wear­ing the apron at the Free­dom Café in Dur­ban (orig­i­nally opened by restau­ra­teur Neil Roake in 2010) since June 2012, Lucy loves pre­par­ing ‘a mix of cuisines and clas­sic dishes pre­sented in a fresh and trendy way,’ she says. ‘I’m also go­ing through a bit of a lo­cal phase – look­ing for in­gre­di­ents around me that I don’t usu­ally cook with and cre­at­ing new recipes with them.’

Al­though the Café is tagged a ‘hip­ster hang­out’ (it is very cool) and its clien­tele, in­evitably, as ‘trendy’, Lucy notes that the pa­trons ac­tu­ally re­flect Dur­ban as a whole – a melt­ing pot of young and old from vary­ing back­grounds, in­ter­ests and cul­tures.‘The space has such a great en­ergy it draws ev­ery­body in! We also have a reg­u­lar in­ter­na­tional clien­tele who pass the time in the Café when they are vis­it­ing the neigh­bour­ing ho­tel (The Concierge).’

A day at the Café starts with a wide choice of break­fast – its sweet potato rosti is a win­ner – while pulled chicken tacos,ribs, prawn­cakes and kale salad are de­li­cious op­tions for lunch and din­ner. Muffins and other sweet things are avail­able all day, while the ‘unique’ cock­tail menu, us­ing the Café’s own syrups and tinc­tures, is a ver­i­ta­ble crowd-pleaser.

Then there’s its set­ting – amid trees, pot plants and shrubs. As Lucy’s young daugh­ter re­cently ob­served, ‘Free­dom Café has so much na­ture around it! You don’t get other restaurants with so much.’ Quirky colour is pro­vided by the staghorn wall and a huge mir­ror with de­cals – ‘prob­a­bly the best two fea­tures, along with the red ship­ping container,’ says Lucy.‘I try to cre­ate great ex­pe­ri­ences, not just great food.’

From left to right Free­dom Café’s eye-catch­ing dé­cor in­cludes a re­fur­bished red ship­ping container, filled with stylish pieces; mint, cu­cum­ber, ap­ple and lemon in­fused wa­ter makes for a de­li­cious, thirst-quench­ing drink. Op­po­site Prawn­cakes with salad and sweet chilli mayo.

Clock­wise from top Sweet potato ros­tis topped with poached eggs and served

with toma­toes, mush­rooms and sal­mon gravad­lax; Busi, one of Free­dom

Café’s stylish wait­resses; pink flamin­gos add pops of colour; a re­laxed

ta­ble for two.

Clock­wise from left The in­side fur­nish­ings of the re­vamped red container; a freshly blended cherry al­mond daiquiri; pulled chicken tacos with av­o­cado,hum­mus, sour cream and pineap­ple salsa.

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