Fire & Vine

Where: Athlone Circle, 1 Montgomery Drive, Pietermaritzburg

Open: Daily 8am to 10pm

Call: 033 342 2126

Fire & Vine is the latest restaurant to excite diners in Pietermaritzburg. Opened in one of the gaps between lockdowns during the Covid pandemic, it is named Fire for its charcoal grill and Vine for its substantial and interesting wine list. The glass-walled cellar takes pride of place in the entrance.

It’s a smart space with some even smarter customers. The group of women celebrating a birthday next to us looked like they had stepped straight off the set of “Top Billing”. The decor is brick and dramatic murals. There are plush green banquettes and comfortable chairs in the mid-century modern style. The lighting is subdued. For a large space it has a sense of intimacy.

At the back is a well-stocked cocktail bar which spills out onto an open terrace. On a sunny Sunday afternoon this was packed. I can imagine it may be similar after work. Red drinks and green drinks and orange drinks and even black drinks were flying out to tables.

The menu is extensive but obviously focuses on the charcoal grill.

The breakfast menu runs until 11.30am and includes a selection of omelettes and Benedicts. There’s a variety of filled croissants and loaded French toast as well as a number of healthy options for the muesli brigade. There’s also a brunch menu served until 4pm, which includes a variety of toasties, open sandwiches and wraps.

Starters can include sweetcorn bread rolls – I think most South Africans love traditional mielie bread – or a focaccia. There’s soup of the day (we didn’t ask), panko mushrooms and jalapeño poppers. Prawns come with an avo salsa and there are three or four different ways with calamari, including stuffed with chourico and chives. Chicken livers are cooked Asian style as are pork belly skewers with a pineapple salsa.

We opted for something more unusual. Mom tried the oxtail fritters (R99) which were probably less of a fritter but more like Dutch bitterballen. They were stuffed full of a succulent tasty oxtail and served with a horseradish sauce. While the horseradish might have had a little bit more bite, we really enjoyed them.

I went for the gnocchi with bacon, artichokes and a Parmesan Anglaise (R79). The gnocchi were light, the Parmesan custard rich and rewarding. I enjoyed it immensely. It was presented on a beautiful plate.

Mains might include a small selection of pastas or some interesting salads – including avo and apple, beet and pear and one with braised cauliflower. The From the Sea section includes a couple of reasonable seafood platters for one. There are also any numbers of combos available, including one massive plate that came past loaded with a half peri-peri chicken and a 350g sirloin. I would battle to finish half of it.

From the Fire takes in a range of steaks, including an Irish hanger steak and a tomahawk in a variety of sizes, with beef, chicken, pulled pork and a breakfast option. Duck is served with a confit duck leg and roasted breast on carrot and ginger purée with an orange sauce, while pork belly is served with cauliflower purée and roasted onions. There’s also a venison loin with chilli chocolate.

Mom opted for the lamb shank (R259) slow cooked in red wine and served with polenta and peas. It was a tasty, and sizeable, plate, the lamb meltingly tender, although she would have preferred a few more peas. She enjoyed it. I had the 200g fillet mignon (R179) with tomato granola, wild garlic, braised red cabbage, ox tongue croquette and a red wine jus. The owner had sung the praises of their red wine jus earlier. It sounds like they go through buckets of the stuff.

The steak was good, although probably more medium than medium rare, and the jus enjoyable. I missed any hint of the wild garlic, but the tongue croquette was also worth noting. Mains also come with a side and I tried their onion rings which were nice and crisp, although the batter needed salt.

Desserts take in the usuals plus a deconstructed lemon meringue, panna cotta, and poached pears. I didn’t enquire what the vegan dessert entailed. Sadly our second stomachs failed us here.

Food: 3 ½

Service: 3

Ambience: 3 ½

The Bill: R800 excluding tip

2023-03-25T11:23:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd