Big Easy Bar & Grill, Desaru Coast | Media

ernie els big easy durban

Dine Divine

Fine dining spots you'll love
Reviewed by Gemma White
OK! Middle East


WHAT IS IT: Casual, laidback dining in a classic steakhouse setting.

WHY WE LOVE IT: Boy, did I learn a lot dining at The Big Easy Bar and Grill. First up, that Ernie Els’the South African golfing legend behind the club nickname is ‘The Big Easy’, hence the restaurant’s name. Yes, golf fans might be rolling their eyes at me right now, but I didn’t know. Secondly, I learnt a ton about steaks and grapes from the gregarious restaurant manager, Tobias, who was quite the most enthusiastic, sociable and knowledgable man I have ever come across. If Tobias ever has a dinner party, I want to be invited!

With its dark, wood-panelled décor, the Big Easy Bar and Grill sets a laid back tone as an eatery, and on the Thursday night we went, the place was Filled with family groups, couples and golfers grabbing a bite post-game. The menu is unpretentious, and deceptively simple, and we got stuck right into starters of baked brie, snoek and crab cakes, and seared scallops – that’s right, three starters between the two of us, we were hungry! The juicy and tender scallops came wrapped in duck prosciutto and cooked in butter and herbs and saffron aioli, while the hearty pan-seared crab cakes were complemented with a corn and spiced mango cilantro sauce. The brie was huge, oozing out onto the plate with each cut, to be smeared on the crusty baguette and topped with blackberries. Elsewhere on the menu, you’ll find plenty of South African classics which have become global favourites - including Boerwores in a thick tomato onion stew and Bobotie samosas with banana chutney and coconut shavings.

For mains, there are plenty of seafood options, such as grilled jumbo prawns, pan seared sea bass and Norwegian salmon steak, and meats are well represented with the cinnamon and spice flavoured lamb stew in baked Portuguese bread, New Zealand red deer fillet and the intriguingly named angry duck curry that we’re definitely going to try next time. But, c’mon, it’s a Thursday night, we wanted to have steak, Tobias wanted us to have steak… Heck, probably even Mr. Els wanted us to have steak – we were going to have steak!

ernie els steaks

We highly recommend the steaks in this laidback eatery, and for dessert, the warm apple pie (below)

ernie els warm apple pie

I opted for the 8oz U.S. beef grilled tenderloin, while my husband went for the 12oz South African rib-eye, along with the suggested beverages to accompany. For our choice of sides, we went big, we did not go home, and got stuck into the aptly named mother of all baked potatoes, Big Easy fries, sautéed baby spinach, mushrooms sautéed in cream and seasoned with fresh herbs and steamed broccoli. Does it sound like we over-ordered? Well, the joke is on you, because we polished off the lot! The steaks were delicious – tender, juicy, cooked to perfection – while the sides were super-generous (the potato could easily pass for a starter) and super-tasty. It’s also worth noting here that we were very impressed with the quality of the kids’ menu which featured options that were not only healthy, but also a veritable taste exploration for little ones, with a 3oz fillet mignon, salmon fillet with green beans and grilled chicken with broccoli among others. As a mum who hides the fries from my kids, I really appreciated the options.

Where were we? Ah, yes, dessert, which I had to tackle alone due to husband’s aforementioned 12oz steak. I chose the warm apple pie because the description contained two of my three dessert trigger words – ‘caramel’ and ‘fudge’ (the other is ‘toffee’ if you’re taking notes). Of course, it was delish, with apple both soft and crunchy, and generous drizzles of caramel cinnamon fudge, making for a brilliantly sweet end to a relaxed and fun meal.

WHAT TO WEAR: Keep things smart-casual.

WHO TO TAKE: Friends and family, the little ones, your man… Big Easy Bar and Grill is perfect for all.

winemaker louis strydom ernie els wines

Capture The Sunshine

A visit with Ernie Els' winemaker offers a lesson in South African wines
- just as it did for Els 16 years ago.
by Mike McAllister

STELLENBOSCH, South Africa – A light haze caresses the Helderberg Mountain, which looms behind Louis Strydom's right shoulder as he pours one of his creations into a long-stemmed crystal glass. Shade from the oversized umbrella provides much-needed relief from a challenging hot summer day in South Africa’s Cape Winelands region. The cool False Bay breeze that extends the ripening period has yet to announce its presence.

In Afrikaans, Helderberg means “clear mountain" and now, while sitting in its foothills, you understand why. The setting on the back patio at the Ernie Els Winery is spectacular, one of those life-is-good moments.

On the table in front of Strydom are a variety of wine bottles, a mid-afternoon taste testing ready to begin. It’s not unlike the scene 16 years earlier when Strydom – an award-winning winemaker – first explored the palate of his country’s top professional golfer.

When Els decided in 1999 to enter the wine business, he asked Strydom to join his project. Priority No. 1 was choosing the wine they wanted to make. Potentially, this was a problem, since Els was no wine expert. He grew up in Johannesburg, in the Highveld, a grassy plateau through South Africa’s interior. Big city. No vineyards.

“They only drink brandy and Coke there,” Strydom says with a laugh. “They don’t drink any wine.”

Els’ dad, in fact, didn’t drink alcohol at all, and didn’t allow any in the house. Els’ interest in wine only took off in the early ‘90s after he met his future wife Liesl, who grew up in Stellenbosch. But while he now enjoyed a glass, he couldn’t tell you why. And that’s what he told Strydom that day.

No worries, replied Strydom. “You don’t have to know anything about wines to know what you enjoy.”

He then set aside five bottles, each one placed inside an unmarked bottle-store paper bag. This would be a blind taste test. Strydom didn’t want anything – the grape, the color, the label -- to influence Els. The only thing that mattered was taste.

“What the hell am I tasting here?” Els asked, still feeling out of his element.

“Just tell me. Just talk to me,” responded Strydom.

Els remained unsure. These guys with the oakey and the smokey and all this, he laughed to himself.

“Listen,” he told Strydom. “I’m not gonna tell you what I’m smelling or tasting. I’m just gonna tell you what I like."

So he did. A sip from the first bottle. The second. Third. Fourth. Fifth. It was that fifth and final bottle he enjoyed the most -- a classic Bordeaux-style blend with five varietals.

Strydom then went to work.

ernie els winery

Ernie Els Winery, Stellenbosch

A year later, the Ernie Els Signature wine was introduced, utilizing those five varietals – 62 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Merlot, 5 percent Petit Verdot, 4 percent Cabernet Franc and 4 percent Malbec. It was an immediate success, akin to a golfer making his pro debut by winning The Open Championship. Wine Spectator gave it 93 out of 100 – no South African red wine had ever been rated that high.

Since then, the Ernie Els Signature has annually received 90-plus points for every vintage. Platter’s Wine Guide, the country’s top wine annual, has given it 5 stars on four occasions. It continues to set the tone for all of Els’ wines each year – a high-end product that consumers will appreciate and enjoy.

“I trust him – and I did trust him back then – so I knew he would come up with a good product,” Els says of Strydom. “He just wanted to see what I liked. I’m glad that first meeting went well.”

When it was released, the 2000 Signature sold for R450 in South Africa. At the current exchange rate, that’s just over $31 in U.S. dollars. If you’re a wine connoisseur, you’re probably not flinching at that price. But 16 years ago ...

“It was the most expensive wine in South Africa,” Strydom says. “And it came out of a brown paper bag.”

Read the full article on
ernie els durban hotel

"A Hole In One"

International Golf star Ernie Els launches his Big Easy Winebar & Grill, at the Hilton Durban hotel

"Els, who jetted in from Johannesburg between tournaments, moved easily amongst the crowd, excited to have him in South Africa's coastal city of Durban, bumping into old friends and chatting to guests at the party, many of who couldn't resist the opportunity of a "selfie" with the sporting icon.

Although the restaurant has been operational for three months, this was the first time Els had seen the final it his "stamp of approval," during his speech to the gathered audience.

He also praised the vision and innovation of the various partners involved in the project; the Hilton Hotel Group, the design team of Therese Virserius and the restaurant opening team.

With Head Chef, Janine Fourie at the helm, the restaurant's culinary emphasis is on fresh, locally sourced produce, free range and organic meat and fresh seafood. With a commitment to farm-to-table delivery, the menu is a taste sensation from across the nation, delivered to perfection. The Big Easy serves a fresh, seasonally driven menu, sourcing ingredients and produce from artisan suppliers and featuring classic dishes, authentic local specialties and Ernie's personal favorites.

Alongside Ernie Els signature wines, the bar is stocked with an extensive collection of selected quality wines, many of which are available by the glass, and feature up and coming wine-makers. Wine aficionados will also be able to enjoy the entire Ernie Els collection, comprising 10 wines, as well as Ernie Els Vintage wines from 2002 and 2006.

To complement the wine selection, a comprehensive portfolio of local craft beer, fine whiskeys, cognacs and cocktails is available, ensuring that there is something for everyone. Sommelier, Eric Botha is on hand to add his considerable knowledge and advice to the dining experience.

The interior of the restaurant focuses on comfort, with a contemporary South African aesthetic. The Chefs Table and tastefully appointed Private Dining Room are welcome additions, to the usual restaurant layout.

A lounge, with large screen TV monitors, for (and other sporting events) and a large Bar with an impressive wine bottle display forming a dramatic floor to ceiling backdrop, dominates the space at the east end, while the dining area, looking onto the large Open Kitchen, is unobtrusively cordoned off by the "bottle wall."

The Els influence can be seen throughout with many personal touches, including custom-made furniture and a feature wall filled with memorabilia, replica trophies and images giving the venue a homely ambiance; while in the Private Dining Room, guests have the opportunity to sit down in comfortable style, as if in the company of "The Big Easy" himself.

Outside, the stylish Terrace is ideal for al fresco dining and chilling. A foliage wall, as well as locally sourced furniture and accents, honors South Africa's rich artistic heritage and natural beauty.

Over the coming months Big Easy Winebar & Grill will be introducing Sunday Jazz Sessions, regular events and wining and dining specials. "

Read the full article on Beijing Reveiw
big easy winebar & grill miami brickell

"Nine More Restaurants Announced For Upcoming Brickell City Centre"

"Uless you've been living under a rock, you're well aware that the behemoth Brickell City Centre is close to opening its doors. The billion dollar project in the middle of — you guessed it — Brickell, will feature 500,000-square-feet of retail and restaurant space.

Yesterday, nine new restaurant concepts were announced to a lineup that already include Pubelly Sushi, Pasion del Cielo and Uruguayan restaurant Quinto La Huella. Those restaurants coming to City Centre include mall staple like Häagen-Dazs (naturally), juice bar concept Dr. SMOOD, French bakery Calissons du Roy René, lobster roll creator Luke's Lobster, South African "lifestyle" restaurant Big Easy Winebar & Grill, along with an American Harvest, DAVIDsTEA, Santa Fe and Taco Chic. No final opening date has been announced. Stay tuned for more updates."

Read the full article on Eater Miami
therese virserius ernie els
therese virserius photo credit: Jethro Snyders Photography

"Big Easy Local Flavour"

Omeshnie Naidoo chatted to Swedish interior designer Therese Virserius, responsible for the look and feel of the Big Easy by Ernie Els, which was christened by the golfing legend himself at the Hilton Druban recently.

Hauled into a minibus taxi with kitchen staff, interior designer Therese Virserius went on a six-week adventure around South Africa, absorbing local culture, before she could begin work on the Big Easy restaurant at the Hilton Durban.

Commissioned by South African golfer, Ernie Els, (dubbed the "Big Easy" for his tall stature and fluid swing) the winebar and grill is the second in a series of global franchise restaurants being designed by Virserius.

Taking her cue from the long­standing Big Easy in Stellenbosch she designed the Big Easy Malaysia, Durban and is busy working on Miami.

Virserius is a global citizen, who, apart from the privilege of a round-trip across the country, understands the dynamics of creating a world-class venue with a distinctly local brand identity.

Born in Sweden and having lived everywhere from Europe to China, she has two studios ( - one in Paris and one in New York. She's worked extensively in Las Vegas, on projects such as the 12 billion dollar CityCentre Las Vegas.

Speaking from the Big Easy at the Hilton Durban, where it is located, she said creating a global brand was all about submerging yourself in local culture, developing an overall impression and then interpreting it.

"I saw a great deal of the landscape and people and found it earth, rustic and layered,” said Virserius.

“As a foreigner when you think of South Africa you think of a safari and animal print, but I wanted to steer clear of cliché. Instead, with leather being so easily accessible and favoured by Els, I chose to incorporate it into the furniture, which we had locally manufactured.

"There are leather armchairs, sofas and bar stools as we've varied the settings. "We've even used cane, but interpreted it in a very contemporary way.

"I like to think of a restaurant as a stage set and then aim to create different scenarios for the different players -it helps make each visit unique and helps create different moments."

She said layers were other important elements in design for her. The shell of casual screed floors and rustic brick walls is layered with bamboo and rope ceilings; there are rugs, cushions an other accents too.

The final element in her design philosophy is the unexpected. The restaurant has numerous "rooms" or private spots, divided by "wine walls" or other "screens". The result is a surprise at every turn, perhaps, a chandelier made from wine bottles or wall art made from bottle corks. "If a space is not layered or interesting, it can get boring very quickly, my advice to any aspirant decorator is to avoid flat decor schemes," she said.

"Even if your space is rustic, such as the restaurant with its hammered copper bar and loads of wood, juxtapose it with something sleek, such as the misty glass light fittings we have used." So layer, create moments and aim for the unexpected.

eric botha sommelier big easy durban hiltton hotel

"Take an easy drink in Durban"

"Durban - Big Easy Durban by Ernie Els, is a new winebar and grill at Hilton Durban. Inspired by Ernie Els’s sporting passion and love of his homeland it echoes his effortless, casual style.

The new restaurant is unpretentious, yet sophisticated, and brings together great food, amazing decor and a laid-back vibe.

With a commitment to farm-to-table delivery, the menu is fresh and seasonally-driven with ingredients and produce sourced from artisan suppliers and featuring classic dishes.

Inside, the restaurant features a chef’s table, open kitchen, private dining area, memorabilia wall and large bar. Outside, the Terrace has an upper and lower deck for alfresco dining and cocktails and a retail shop stocking wine and other memorabilia.

Alongside the Ernie Els signature wines, is an extensive collection of selected quality wines, many of which will be available by the glass, featuring up and coming wine-makers. Wine aficionados will be able to enjoy the entire Ernie Els collection comprising 10 wines, as well as Ernie Els Vintage wines.

To complement the wine selection, a comprehensive portfolio of local craft beer, fine whiskys, cognacs and cocktails is available.

Sommelier Eric Botha said all their wines were enjoyable on their own and were even more satisfying when paired with one of Head Chef, Janine Fourie’s dishes.

He worked closely with Louis Strydom from Ernie Els wines to personally select everything for Big Easy Durban. Here are his favourites:

  • Dieu Donne Shiraz/Viognier
    for easy drinking, and doesn’t need to be paired with food.
  • Villiera Monro Brut
    a perfect bubbly, perfect for any time anywhere.
  • Creation Viognier
    a versatile wine that can be paired with almost every one of the dishes on our menu.

  • His Valentine’s Day selection is the Big Easy Rose, with hints of strawberry."

    Read the full article on IOL - South Africa's Premier Online News Source
    ernie els big golf swing

    "Els Plans Durban Autism Centre"

    Durban - Durban was likely to get a branch of Ernie Els’s American-based Centre for Excellence for children with autism, the iconic golfing star said on Wednesday.

    Els’s son, Ben, born with autism, and Els and his wife, Liezl, have spearheaded the fundraising for the game-changing $35 million (R210m) Centre of Excellence in Florida.

    Fundraising from golfing events had also taken place in South Africa for a similar centre for some three years, Els said on Wednesday before officially launching his Big Easy Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel.

    The plan was to first start a school in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

    It would be a satellite of the American Centre of Excellence, which opened in August.

    “We have got to get the right site and maybe renovate an old house or build a school from scratch.

    “We are going to need a couple of schools as this (autism) is becoming big.” And that could include Durban, he said.

    The American centre was one-of-a-kind and included several features to aid research.

    It also included a small par-3 golf course, which had just been finished, he said.

    Earlier, Els posed for pictures with Chris Beukes, who won the inaugural Hilton Golf Classic last year, held to raise funds for Els’s South African autism project.

    Els welcomed some of his own heroes to Wednesday night’s event, singling out rugby legends John Smit, Butch James and Stefan Terblanche.

    He told the other local movers and shakers that: “I am golf and I got into the wine business by accident… and that has morphed into the restaurant.”

    The Ernie Els Wines started about 16 years ago and his winemaster and maker, Louis Strydom, was on hand to explain how it all started and how the business expanded.

    Read the full article on IOL - South Africa's Premier Online News Source

    Video Showcase: Big Easy Winebar & Grill

    Hilton Hotel recently welcomed the Big Easy Winebar & Grill and The Socialite was on set to showcase Durban’s latest hotspot…

    We celebrated the launch of Durban’s very first Big Easy Winebar & Grill restaurant to open its doors at the Hilton Hotel.

    The exclusive video showcase features the restaurant itself as well as interviews with Executive Chef Janine Fourie, Sommelier at the Big Easy Winebar & Grill Eric Botha, former Borussia Dortmund midfielder Delron Buckley, the CEO of Prosport International Mike Makaab as well as Olympian South African swimmer Charl Crous.

    big easy bar & grill dubai brunch

    "9 Super Things To Do This Month"

    The Big Easy Friday brunch is definitely among the top brunches in town if you’re looking for some good meats. You pick your meat and the chef grills it exactly the way you like it. The restaurant has a large terrace that overlooks the Ernie Ells golf course, so brunching outdoors in winter will be a treat. The variety of food is a good, but not over-the-top to leave you confused; from a Sunday Roast with Yorkshire pudding and South African Boerewors to live Thai cooking stations and a counter with fresh seafood to pick from, you’d be spoilt for choice. They’ve even got several vegetarian options, though meat is the main focus here. There's also a supervised kids area which includes a special buffet, entertainment zone with movies, popcorn and the ever popular face painting.

    ernie els big easy durban

    The new Big Easy Winebar & Grill at Hilton Durban is due to open in October 2015.

    Echoing Els’ unique and easy style, Big Easy Winebar & Grill is unpretentious, comfortable and fun, the place to be among friends. It’s Farm-to-table, seasonally driven menu offers a combination of fresh from the grill food, local specialties and Ernie’s personal favorites, inspired by the cultural crossroads of South Africa. Alongside Ernie Els signature wines will be an extensive wine by the glass offering, featuring up and coming wine-makers.

    Big Easy Winebar & Grill is located in a prominent location just off the lobby of Hilton Durban and also directly accessible from the Durban Convention Centre plaza. The Els influence can be seen throughout with the many personal touches that have been introduced. The Lounge area is stocked with wines from Ernie Els Wines portfolio and showcases a feature wall filled with golfing memorabilia, replica trophies and action images from Ernie’s 70-plus professional tournament victories; while in the Private Dining Room diners have the opportunity to enjoy a more intimate, yet still comfortable environment. The addition of Big Easy Winebar & Grill is expected to bring a resurgence of energy to the popular property, currently the only five star hotel in Durban’s CBD.

    Earning his nickname ‘Big Easy’ as much for his effortless golf swing as for his big heart and philanthropic efforts, Ernie Els is synonymous with all-round excellence; pursuing the best in sports and leisure, while always staying true to his love of family and country.

    “Having travelled the world and dined out literally thousands of times, I understand the essence of what makes a great restaurant. It has to have warm hospitality and a fun, relaxed environment – somewhere to enjoy spending time with friends and family over a great bottle of wine and a meal,” says Els. “The ethos behind Big Easy Winebar & Grill is to provide all of those qualities. This really is my kind of restaurant in every sense.”

    Els goes on to say, “We are excited to be part of one of the world’s most iconic hotel brands through this partnership with Hilton and Durban offers the perfect launching-pad, with its laid-back vibe and idyllic weather. It’s a great fit.”

    Simon Lazarus, vice president of food and beverage, EMEA at Hilton Worldwide, said, “At Hilton we have a passion for excellence in food and drink and have been creating amazing memories for our guests for nearly a century. We are always exploring ways to create new experiences and finding great partners who share our vision, while also being authentic to the local destination. In Ernie Els and his team, with the creation of Big Easy Winebar & Grill, we believe we have a winning combination for Hilton Durban, bringing something entirely new to the city.”

    Executive chef Janine Fourie and sommelier Eric Botha have been handpicked to run the restaurant. Chef Fourie, who completed her professional chef diploma at the Granger Bay Hotel School in Cape Town, brings 16 years of local and international experience to her new position, most recently as Executive Chef at Knai Bang Chatt, a boutique hotel in Cambodia and aboard the Relais & Chateaux luxury cruise-liner, Worldwide.

    Sommelier, Eric Botha, was mentored by well-known wine selector, Allan Mullins and has numerous Cape Wine Academy courses to his credit. Throughout the past 10 years he has gained valuable experience at The Vineyard, Singita Game Reserve and ‘Maze’ at The One & Only. Most recently Eric has held Sommelier positions at Bel Punto and The Oyster Box in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as consulting to The Chairman.

    While the focus is on comfort, and creating a ‘home from home’ ambiance, the culinary emphasis will be on fresh, locally sourced produce, free range and organic meat and fresh seafood, with the restaurant open for lunch and dinner daily. The wine list, includes Ernie Els wines, and a selection of the best of the rest South Africa has to offer, as well as a local craft beer selection, the finest whiskeys, cognacs and cocktails.

    The Big Easy project at Hilton Durban brings together a dynamic, international creative team. The vision of interior designers Virserius Studio, an award-winning hospitality interior design firm out of New York and Paris, was to create a space that was ‘beautiful, friendly and open, to ensure that everyone who visits will feel comfortable.’ The Big Easy Winebar & Grill in Durban, is South African in nature, combining several unique spaces, all tied together by inviting rustic elements such as wood-beamed ceilings, beaten copper, rich textured leather upholstery, brushed concrete and handcrafted furniture.

    The open plan interior of the restaurant comprises a Chef’s Table and open Kitchen, where diners can get up close and personal with Chef Fourie and watch the chefs at work in the heart of the restaurant. A large bar with an impressive wine bottle display, a dramatic floor to ceiling backdrop and a copper bar counter, dominates the east end of the space. Outside, the Terrace with upper and lower decks, for al fresco dining and chilling, features a lush green foliage wall, as well as locally-sourced furniture and accents, honouring South Africa’s rich artistic heritage and natural beauty, where guests can fully immerse themselves in the magic of the outdoors and Durban’s idyllic weather.

    ernie els big easy durban
    ernie els big easy dubai

    Big Easy Bar & Grill at The Els Club, Dubai.

    Meatarians rejoice – this steakhouse is big and it is easy. Named after South African golfer Ernie Els, AKA ‘the big easy’ who also visits the venue with fellow golfer Rory McIlroy, this restaurant serves up platters of fresh comfort food adorned with spices, herbs and ingredients from around the world. Keep your eyes peeled for Hollywood superstars like Will Smith, who might just be sitting at the table next to you, as you tuck in to the signature Big Easy Burger. Also give the babotie spring rolls and boerewors (traditional South African sausages) a whirl.



    Boerewors in a thick tomato onion stew ‘chakalaka’ Dhs38


    Red Deer Fillet Dhs195


    Rooibos Tea Panna Cotta Dhs38

    INFO: The Els Club, Dubai Sports City, 04 425 1000,,