La Vitae. The Life.
And that it is. The good life, good food, good company restaurant experience. The kind of place you want to be. If you are alone, with a family, hanging out with friends, or taking a special someone out on a date ( 🙂 you can thank me later) I urge you to go to La Vitae for a food experience that will linger long after you have left the premises.
Speaking to Timothy Lander, the owner and heart of La Vitae, I asked how he ended up in the restaurant business? He relates that at some stage during his travels he was given the position of a staff member that had left and had to learn to find his way around the kitchen. Tim has grown his love for food under a few chefs overseas and in South Africa. When asked why Italian food, he says it is the fresh undercurrent that girds Italian food that always kept his attention. Although La Vitae is not strictly Italian food, the food is made fresh, with fresh ingredients. “If you ask for sauce, I don’t have it pre-prepared. I make it from scratch” says Tim in emphasis on how much fresh food is important. It is what contrasts this restaurant in a menu of so many dining options in Pietermaritzburg. La Vitae is also one of the few non franchised restaurants in Pietermaritzburg and ranked as number one on Trip Advisor with loads of 5 star reviews.
Tim believes that eating out should be an experience. Whether you are ordering, pizza, a burger or a molecular experience to delight your senses. It is something that can be seen as he moves around talking to patrons of the restaurant who relate back with smiles and laughs while his staff emulate the very same ethos in caring for the clients that are arriving fast and thick.
La Vitae produces the kind of food that you can’t hide behind. Big flavours combined with finesse and delicacy produces beautiful dishes. Along with the poetry of flavours in your food, the waitron can always recommend a wonderful wine to compliment the food. It is clear that great food combined with the wine is partly responsible for the relaxed atmosphere with the diners enjoying their meals over animated conversation.
One of the evenings La Vitae regularly hosts is that of a gourmet meal along with a wine paring (if you want to be kept up to date with the goings on, go and like their facebook page – click here). I happened to be attending just such an evening (much to my delight) and wanted to convey my experience to you.
The evening started with a wonderful flute of Bon Courage Blush (that magically refills itself). I know very few people who do not like sparkling wine, but this has to be my favourite. So juicy and sweet with a little kick of dry. A great way to get the conversation started and of course; a lovely introduction to the evening. Not to mention a lovely introduction to the Bon Courage Wine Estate (You can find their tasty wines at La Vitae, or if you want a few bottles….. on their website – Click here).
The Sauvignon Blanc is light and makes me think of a ballerina doing a piroute to a beautiful composition; as it enhances the buttery combination of flavours in the sauce with coriander and garlic along with the sea flavour with the muscles and sweet, succulent prawns.
The nuttiness of smoky rich risotto with the beautiful savoury hint of mushrooms contrasting with the delicate fish cooked to perfection. All graced with a big fruity Chardonnay singing a rock and roll song on the tastebuds.
The Cabernet Sauvignon could be compared to a gypsy dancing, tantalising your tastebuds while shrouding itself in the smokiness. The steak was beautifully tender with the bacon providing a saltiness with a smoky residue. The butternut pops sweetness in contrast with the creaminess of thick wedges of potatoes. All leaving your mouth in flavourful bliss.
Now I am the sweet tooth queen and am reminded of it regularly by family with tales of my cookie monster traits growing up. This dessert left me mind blown. It was the perfect creme brulee (with the Masterchef crack of the caramalised sugar layer). The nuttiness of the caramel intertwines with the almost sweet brulee in perfect harmony. The sweet Noble Late Harvest from Bon Courage seems to envelop the flavours effortlessly, providing an almost creamy mouth feel. Can I just say….. Bliss.
But La Vitae can’t leave it here. It sounds to me like they continue to strive to improve and extend themselves. Literally. Tim tells me of the building extensions to come with the restaurant that sound fantastic, with some very exciting concepts to be introduced along with them. One of these being some additions to the menu in the form of molecular gastronomy. I personally find that rather exciting and something totally fresh to the Pietermaritzburg scene.
Your tastebuds will thank you.
See you on the road……
* I dined as a guest at La Vitaé with a complimentary meal. All opinions and photos are my own.