You know how some people talk about their pets? That’s how Lanser Fourie talks about ingredients. And when a chef does that, you know you’re in a for a super special meal.

Actually, it was apparent that this would be the case from the moment we walked into Lanser’s on Main. The restaurant is quietly elegant, with little touches that I just fell in love with – like the succulents growing out of vintage teacups on each table. We chose a table on the balcony, where we could take in the electric Joburg night. It’s an ideal spot for date night – not overly fussy, but definitely out of the ordinary.The food is out of the ordinary, too. At first glance, the menu is deceptively simple. The usual bistro favourites are all there – think pastas, pizzas, steaks and burgers – but they have very little in common with what’s dished up at other restaurants. That’s because Lanser’s pet trick is to take a global favourite – like steak tartare, for example – and mix it up with a few additions of his own. As a result, dishes that you might count among your ‘bests’ become almost unrecognisable – but in a very, very good way.This was very much the case with the tomato tart I tried for starters. It’s the most sublime combination of creamy, fresh and tart (excuse the pun) you can imagine: the first bite of the apricot mustard pastry case is wonderfully crisp, followed by the punch of basil and tomato, and ending off with a swirl of soft goat’s cheese. Even my husband, who appears to have a personal vendetta against basil, gave this one the thumbs up. And he couldn’t get enough of his own starter, the aforementioned steak tartare. Although he’d had serious reservations about the dish’s texture before tasting it, Lanser has definitely turned him into a fan.

Next up my husband dug into the most moreish creamy, garlicky chicken and zucchini pot pie (a definite must-have and one of Lanser’s own favourites) while I decided to dine on the lighter side, and went for tilapia fillets. You know when fish so fresh it almost doesn’t have a flavour? That was definitely happening here. It was scrumptious.Dessert was a coffee crème brulee for me and flourless chocolate cake for my husband. His was definitely the dish of the night. It filled every corner of my mouth with exquisite rich, dense chocolatey-ness without being heavy. I’d return to Lanser’s for that alone.

Taking into account that many of its lunchtime clientele hail from Bryanston’s bustling office blocks, Lanser’s also offers a quick-eats lunch menu. I wouldn’t want to rush my time here, though. This is superb food prepared with passion and every bite is a pleasure.