Restaurant review: La Vie

Fellow blogger Harini and I have almost made it a ritual to meet up every couple of months on a weekend to spend a few hours together lunching, having coffee and tea, and chatting about books, cinema, and just about everything else. The first time we met, we decided to meet at Khan Market, since it was relatively easily accessible for both of us – and it offered a sufficient range of restaurants and cuisines to choose from. And, creatures of habit that we both seem to be, we have stuck to Khan Market. We’ve been to several restaurants in the market, and try to make it a point to visit some place new every time we come here.

This last Saturday, Harini, asked to pick a place for lunch, offered a choice between Au Bon Pain and Wok in the Clouds, both of which are pretty close to each other, in the middle lane. We stood in front, looking from one to the other – and then we noticed this rather charming-looking restaurant in the middle, on the ground floor (very unusual for Khan Market, where most restaurants are on upper floors). La Vie, a pizzeria (yes, with a name like that, I’d have expected it to be French food, but…)

The entrance to La Vie, in Khan Market's Middle Lane.

The entrance to La Vie, in Khan Market’s Middle Lane.


Both Harini and I like pizza, so (and mostly because I just liked the look of the place), I suggested La Vie. So we went in, a little surprised at the wood-fired oven and the somewhat cramped entrance – until we realized we’d entered at what is actually the staff entrance. The main entrance to La Vie is not through the middle lane but the back.

Anyway, we went in, and a few steps through, into the dining area, which is a long, narrow room rather like a broad corridor. With yellow painted tables, hunter green chairs and colourful murals of old European streets, half-timbered houses and all, this immediately appealed to me: there’s something warm and welcoming about it.

Inside La Vie.

Inside La Vie.

Luckily, we were relatively early for lunch (it wasn’t even 1 in the afternoon), so except for one other table, the rest of the place was empty. Harini and I got a table for two (most of the tables are for two) and had a look at the menu. This is a manageably small selection: some five or six salads, around ten appetisers, a few pastas and main courses, a handful of desserts, and soft beverages (including shakes, aerated drinks, and very basic tea and coffees). And pizzas from a wood-fired oven.

I am not a pizza freak, but I do like them now and then. And when I eat pizzas, I like to take the path less travelled. Give me the white pizza, the unusual toppings, and I’m happy. La Vie, thankfully, seems to cater to tastes like mine: they have some interesting pizzas, even though the range isn’t huge (there are only about a dozen, perhaps fewer options each in the vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections). I dithered between three options – one with eggplant, another with balsamic-marinated mushrooms, and a third with potatoes and leeks – and finally settled for the potato and leek pizza, which is called The Irish Farmer.

Harini chose a gnocchi in roasted pepper sauce. We had a wait of about twenty minutes or so before our food arrived. Both were European size portions, not outsize (I’d chosen an 8” pizza, though a 12” one is also available). Harini’s gnocchi, which came with lots of fiery-looking deep red sauce, had roasted red pepper as a base, with bits of broccoli studded in it. I had a taste, and found it a wee bit hot for my liking (the gnocchi too was somewhat more floury than I like my gnocchi to be).

Gnocchi with roasted pepper sauce.

Gnocchi with roasted pepper sauce.

My pizza, on the other hand, pleased me a lot: it ticked all the boxes. The thinly sliced potato was slightly crisp, the leek soft and caramelised and lovely, the cheeses – mozzarella and cheddar – just right when it came to quantity. There was a light touch of herbs, and the tomato sauce wasn’t conspicuous (I am not a fan of tomato sauce). I loved this pizza.

The Irish Farmer pizza: potatoes, leeks, cheddar and mozzarella.

The Irish Farmer pizza: potatoes, leeks, cheddar and mozzarella.

Because our main courses hadn’t been huge (and because I’d noticed apple crumble – a particular favourite of mine – on the menu), we decided to have dessert as well. Harini wasn’t keen on a full-fledged dessert and wanted only some ice cream. The restaurant, though it serves ice cream as a side with a couple of desserts, doesn’t serve ice cream as it is, so Harini ended up ordering a walnut brownie with ice cream. I, of course, ordered the apple crumble.

And we sat back, and waited, and waited. We wondered if they’d gone to pick the apples. We wondered why it should take so long to just pull readymade desserts out of the dessert counter (which was right there, behind us).

When our desserts were served, about twenty minutes later, and I was cautioned that my ramekin was “very hot”, I realized why we’d had to wait so long. The apple crumble had come straight out of the oven. The flour-butter-and-sugar topping had perhaps a little too much flour in proportion to the butter, but it was still good: hot and fragrant with cinnamon, with lots of beautifully cooked apple underneath and a scoop of slowly melting vanilla ice cream on top. Lovely.

The apple crumble at La Vie.

The apple crumble at La Vie.

Harini’s brownie looked rather like the mass-market brownies you see in coffee places all across India: rather thin and very dense, even if chocolatey enough. It came with the vanilla ice cream on top, plus a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce. Harini ate a little over half of it, then left the rest, unable to manage any more. I didn’t taste any of it, but I doubt if I’d have been able to eat it all – it looked just too rich.

But, final verdict: yes, I had a great meal, a warm, comforting happy meal. The ambience is friendly and informal, the sunlight pouring in through the glass door at the main entrance lights up everything, and what I ate pleased me thoroughly. I am certainly coming back here. On a relaxed day, when waiting a long while for food isn’t going to be a problem.

We paid Rs 1726 for our meal, including all taxes and service charge. Steep (considering this was not very exotic, vegetarian food) but then, that’s Khan Market for you.

La Vie
51A, Khan Market
New Delhi
Tel: 011-24627707, 8010166000

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14 thoughts on “Restaurant review: La Vie

  1. C’est la vie!

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. :)
    I can have pizza once in a while, but that’s about it. We have an Italian chain here that does a lovely thin crust pizza; it’s my son’s favourite restaurant, especially because of the complementary fresh rolls that come hot off the oven. But may I say I wish I was there? :)

    • Talking about pizza, I remember when I was in NIIT and visiting Chicago for a project, some colleagues of mine took me to a local-style pizza place for lunch. While we were eating, they (Indians, all) told me about another colleague – not someone I knew, but who also worked for our company – who’d come on an assignment to Chicago. One day, they took him out for pizza, and he immediately ordered a pepperoni. He’d been going on and on about what a strict vegetarian he was, so this surprised everybody. Somebody asked him, “But you’re vegetarian – how are you eating pepperoni?”

      “It’s pepper, isn’t it?” he said. “Bell peppers.” Turned out he’d been having pepperoni pizzas ever since he’d arrived in the US, blissfully unaware that it wasn’t vegetarian.

      “But may I say I wish I was there? :)

      I wish you’d been there, too! Not for the food, but for the company. :-)

  2. A friend and I landed in Khan (because as you say, ‘creatures of habit’) after work one day because we were just so exhausted. Being teachers we landed at the awkward time of 4- not particularly hungry but wanting to just sit and talk. And like you, we saw this place and entered from the back. I immediately told my friend, we can’t eat next to an oven but then as it opened out, we were charmed. We had coffee and rosemary and garlic bread- which was delicious, straight out of the oven the bread was! Then we decided to be a bit adventurous- don’t know if you noticed or they still have it but they had on the dessert list (then) a blueberry pizza- which was basically pizza base with blueberry sauce and fresh cream as toppings. It was strange, but we were in the mood to experiment, so did not mind it much.
    And since they didn’t seem too keen to throw us out, we sat for a good two hours, with just another couple sitting a bit away from us. Your review has now made me want to go back to that place!

    • Oh, the bread sounds delicious! I don’t mind the idea of a sweet pizza, though something with more interesting toppings than just plain old blueberry sauce and cream might be more interesting. Perhaps some nuts and fresh fruit to jazz it up, or to lend some contrast in textures? (I think I didn’t notice that blueberry pizza because my eye stopped at the apple crumb and I literally couldn’t see beyond that).

      Harini and I had intended to sit around and have coffee as well, but by the time we finished our dessert, the place was getting quite full, so – even though they did not ask to leave – we thought it would be civil to leave. But yes, reading your comment makes me want to go back! :-)

  3. Sounds good, and the pizza looks just the way I like it!
    Although I perhaps would go for the The Irish Farmer since I seem to have a leek and potato soup every other night (its easy to make and leeks are in season) :p

    The pepporoni anecdote is good – he didn’t notice those little round sliced things?

    Looking forward to your opinion on my next Spanish eating post – haven’t had time yet

    • I can’t imagine what he thought the slices of pepperoni were! :-) Some odd sort of American vegetable? Seriously. If you don’t know, you should make sure, isn’t it?

      I love the potato and leek combination in soups, which was why I was happy to try it in pizza form. Certainly worked.

      Ah, I must go and check out your blog. I’m sure you must have published something about some gorgeous restaurant which will make me want to come to Spain pronto!

      • Madhu, meant to add that the pepperoni story is somewhat of an urban legend. So many Indians, in so many states seem to have made that mistake – specifically thinking they were some sort of peppers. :)

        I’ve heard this story here, for instance.

        • Wow. I would’ve thought anybody who was staunchly vegetarian wouldn’t assume something was vegetarian. But it’s apparently more common than one thought… is it an urban legend, though, I wonder? I know for sure that the Chicago one was not, because the Indians who were present when that happened were friends of mine, so they could vouch for its authenticity.

          • I assumed it was an urban legend, simply because I’ve heard at least three variations of the same story. Perhaps it did happen to one chap somewhere, and then ‘friend of a friend’-type anecdotes began to crop up? I don’t know. I’m vegetarian, and no way I’m eating something without first checking to see what the heck it was, and I don’t even have religious restrictions against eating meat. And if I, like the chap who ate pepperoni and liked it, ate something by mistake and found it tasty, I really wouldn’t be vegetarian any longer. I would continue eating it, happily. :)

            My husband has a funny story from ’89 when he first came to the US – he and a friend, a staunch vegetarian, went out to eat, and the latter was very
            particular about ordering a vegetarian variant of a regular dish. (This was when vegetarian choices in mainstream restaurants was very limited.) The waitress came back with their dishes and it was the regular dish, so he called the server over. She removed the pieces of meat from his dish, and told him, ‘There, dearie, now it’s vegetarian.’ :)

            • Oh, dear. That’s an unfortunate thing to happen. But I can’t help giggling about it!

              Incidentally, when I had gone to Chicago, one of my colleagues – Delhi-based, but having to travel to the US again and again – was a vegetarian as well. He ended up having to go to some really out-of-the-way places where there was often nothing vegetarian on the menu, so he got pretty used to buying a stew and then shoving the meat out and eating only the veggies and the gravy. “I can’t starve,” he said.

  4. Long long ago I did not mind having the occasional pizza, but then one day I read what cricketer Navjyot Singh Sidhu told cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle after he saw Bhogle enjoying a pizza, he saidkitna cheese aur maida pet mein gaya, and that was it for me. Now I find pizza quite boring, funny how I was influenced by that remark.

    • Hehe! That’s an interesting (and true, to some extent) comment. Personally, I like my pizzas with a wholewheat base, very thin crust, and without huge quantities of cheese. Not at all the sort of stuff that one gets from the pizza chains. A good pizza, I think, can be really good – but a bad pizza can be awful, and too unhealthy to even make it worth your while.

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