Location plays a critical role in the success of any restaurant and Essence Café is most certainly well situated at Wetherlys Centre, probably the most upmarket location in the Pietermaritzburg CBD. On the day of my visit there were a number of luxury cars, including BMW’s, Mercedes Benz’s, Audi’s and even a Porsche gracing the centre’s parking bays – unmistakable proof that this venue is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best meeting places for local business people.
Owner Martin Maltby named the restaurant ‘Essence’ because he believes the word encompasses the ‘soul’ of the business: “Good food, good friends and excellence,” and he certainly has devised a comprehensive menu that caters for just about everyone.
From health breakfasts such as jungle oats to tasty offerings like crumpet stacks, pancakes, French toast, freshly baked croissants, Welsh rarebit and omelettes to name but a few, the early morning cuisine certainly sounded wonderful but having arrived just after one in the afternoon, the lunch menu was what I was most interested in.
A wide selection of open sandwiches, wraps, bagels, tramezzinis, salads and gourmet burgers cater for a variety of palates while ‘healthier options’ include the Sweet Chilli Fillet, Lemone Calamari, Rolled Chicken, Whai-Thai Curry and Pot Pie among other delectable dishes. With so many options and combinations to choose from deciding on what to have took some time, but I eventually selected the pot pie (R60) with a chicken filling and a phyllo pastry crust.
Although the portion was a little on the small side I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. It was truly delicious and expertly presented and the side salad that accompanied the dish was one of the most tasty I have ever had – no doubt attributed to the superb coriander and olive oil dressing.
For dessert I devoured a half portion of chocolate cake (R12) which admittedly was rather rich but by the same token, irresistibly good. Further dessert options included carrot cake, lemon meringue, chocolate brownies and a number of other mouth watering offerings that even the most disciplined diners would find hard to resist.
Seldom have I been as impressed with a meal as with what was served up to me at Essence Café. The quality of the ingredients and the care taken in the preparation of my dish was of a very high standard as was the service I received, although I have to say that my waiter could have been a little more enthusiastic at times.
Besides the great food, Essence Café also offers patrons an opportunity to relax and enjoy their meal while browsing through a wide selection of magazines or surfing the net on a wireless network. A number of books are also on sale at the café adding another dimension to the venue and giving it that extra appeal to potential customers.
So if you are looking to enjoy a scrumptious meal or an award winning cappuccino in a relaxing yet stimulating environment look no further than Essence Café. It’s the perfect spot to recharge your batteries or ponder your next business move and even if your favourite dish isn’t on the menu Martin will make sure that it’s made for you – provided the ingredients are available that is.
Essence Café is open from Monday’s to Friday’s from 7am to 5pm and on Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 8am to 2pm. However, the restaurant is also open for evening functions by prior arrangement.
Essence Café Contact details:
Telephone: +27 (0)33 342-9215
Physical address: 120 Victoria Rd, Wetherlys Centre, Pietermaritzburg