La Lampara isn’t exactly the best-known restaurant in the country: in fact, it’s more like one of those best-kept secrets that you always hope will be revealed to you by a local resident when you’re visiting a new place. And among a large number of those in-the-know people in KwaZulu-Natal, La Lampara is – deservedly it turns out – a restaurant with a big reputation.
a famous midlands eatery
When you finally make it to a restaurant you’ve heard rave reviews of, your standards are high and you’re ready to be impressed. And arriving at La Lampara on a misty drizzly day, I didn’t want to just be impressed: I wanted to be wowed. I’m always on the hunt for that ‘take a moment’ meal when back home in Durban; you know, ‘Can we take a moment for this perfect poached egg?’ or ‘Can we take a moment for the ratio of sage to butter in this sauce?’ I wanted La Lampara to give me reasons to take a moment.
something out of the ordinary
When the chef – who is also the owner and husband of the hostess – brings something over to the table that you didn’t order, saying ‘Some kohlrabi, it’s something I’m just trying,’ you know you’re in the right place, and that you’re in for a treat. And when the family’s dog appears and proceeds to take a nap on my chilly toes, I’m almost already in love. But then we order the mussels (served in a homemade tomato sauce to be scooped up by the best garlic bread I’ve ever tasted) and the artichokes (served in a buttery sauce so good you want to lick the bowl). And I’m not just almost in love, I’m almost in tears.
Let’s be honest, if you’re an Italian family that runs a restaurant, in the end all I want is to feel like I’m a part of your Italian family who runs a restaurant, I want to hear a tidbit about how the house on the property was partly built by you and filled with your grandkids and golden retrievers, I want to eat a melanzane to rival all melanzanes and I want to wash down a perfect cassata with a limoncello.
I know this is a lot to ask. Believe me, I ask a lot from restaurants and have my heart broken on a regular basis. But this time, however, La Lampara made my heart sing. It’s good… really good.
You can find La Lampara on Farm Boschfontein in Lidgetton. Call them on 082-416-0195.