Giant fudge choc chip cookie dessert.
Giant fudge choc chip cookie dessert.
Image: Supplied

If your idea of comfort food on a chilly Joburg day is a hearty soup or maybe a creamy pasta, think again. For Vivace’s (Radisson Blu Sandton’s in-house restaurant) head chef Tristan Latouf, the idea of comfort food can be luxurious and still hit all the warm and fuzzies. The hotel’s newly launched winter menu was constructed around the idea of introducing a comfort food approach to fine dining, which is synonymous with the cooler season and caters to a dining trend seen in winter travellers who frequent the hotel.

“What we’ve found, is that, in the colder months, travellers and restaurant guests are looking for comfort food over the traditional, expected fine dining that hotels so often offer,” says Latouf. “The aim of this menu to create an atmosphere of delicious, wholesome food at a good price point without ever compromising quality. Our wish is for guests to leave the restaurant feeling sufficiently satiated and blissfully content.”

So exactly what is Latouf’s idea of comfort food with a luxurious fine dining twist?

If Vivace’s warm, inviting décor with calming earthy tones, cosy corner nooks and candescent circular booths isn’t enough; how about a four-course menu paired with some of SA’s most noteworthy wines? The wine pairing list is sublime — curated by head of food and beverage Themba Mpofu who carefully selected a range of new wines that pair perfectly with the seasonal dishes. 

Starters set the tone for a hearty, flavoursome-filled menu with two options. If you enjoy a bit of spice — and love food that evokes feelings of being hugged from the inside — then you need to try the creamy cajun peri-peri chicken livers on toasted baguette slices. The flavours, quite literally, dance on the tongue. The Zonnebloem Blanc de Blanc pairs perfectly with this meal choice.

If you’re looking for something lighter to start with, go for the refreshing golden crispy halloumi cheese bites with lemon, sweet chilli, rocket, and black olives. A personal favourite, especially when paired with the Zonnebloem Blanc de Blanc, the dish provides a delicate play on salty and sweet, zesty and peppery, flavours that prime the palate for the next course. 

The main menu features several options, to suit varied tastes.

The much-loved, traditional pub grub favourite — steak — is given new life and refinement as a main course, with a 21-day matured fillet steak that is cooked to tender perfection and paired with crispy onions, bone marrow, tobasco butter, and thick cut fries. Pair it with the Ghost Corner Pinot Noir or a Meerendal Merlot. 

Vivace restaurant at Radisson Blu Sandton.
Vivace restaurant at Radisson Blu Sandton.
Image: Supplied
Vivace restaurant at Radisson Blu Sandton.
Vivace restaurant at Radisson Blu Sandton.
Image: Supplied

If poultry is more to your taste, the grilled chicken supreme, with a pepper crust served with a rich velvety Béarnaise sauce and shoestring fries, is top-notch. Mpofu’s expert recommendation for the wine pairing? A glass of the La Motte Chardonnay of course.

Calling all pescatarians and seafood lovers; there’s fish on the menu — and a bloody good one at that. If you like your comfort food light and packed with flavour, then I highly recommend the grilled salmon on honey-buttered thyme and roasted sweet potato discs, confit tomato and fried basil.  As is expected, the salmon is cooked just right: tender and flaking off on impact. Go against the grain, and pair it with the Marras The Trickster red blend — trust me, it complements the dish sublimely.

Round off your meal with a dessert that is a lighthearted nod to nostalgia and culinary fun. It’s clear to see that chef Latouf wanted the dessert to satisfy everyone’s “child at heart” with the unconventional and decadent giant fudge choc chip cookie drizzled with chocolate and garnished with chocolate strawberries.  Should you enjoy a more traditional dessert, savour a trio of ‘Seriously Awesome Gelatos’ (they live up to their name!) in three delicious flavours, paired with a Constantia Nectar.

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