Health cuisine a hallmark for new Vida Gourmet

This welcome newcomer to the La Jolla dining scene has found a way to combine gourmet ingredients into a heart-healthy culinary experience. The restaurant features food it calls gourmet, healthy, California fusion and spa cuisine. In addition to the sit-down restaurant, Vida Gourmet offers home delivery of its spa delicacies and catering services.

Executive Chef Winston Edwards serves lunches and dinners Tuesday through Saturday, with Sunday brunch available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at this eatery right across the parking lot from Vons. The restaurant is closed Mondays, except for special events.

The handsome and comfortable interior feels like a Tuscan living room, with plush booths upholstered in wine-colored textiles and custom-made Italian furnishings. Service is a hallmark of this restaurant, whether dining indoors or on the very casual front patio.

Just about everything on the dinner menu piqued our interest, starting with the assortment of appetizers that range from heirloom tomato soup with olive croutons and basil oil ($8) to grilled Mexican white shrimp with papaya, orange segments, Bermuda onions and white balsamic vinaigrette ($11.95).

Other first-rate starters include Sauvignon Blanc-poached pear salad ($9), a mix of organic greens, caramelized walnuts, Stilton cheese and passion fruit vinaigrette, and summer heirloom tomato and watermelon salad with aged banyuis vinaigrette ($7.95).

Try the spiny lobster cakes ($12.95), served with vermouth aioli and black-bean corn salsa, or the yellow fin tuna and crab roulade ($12.50). Even the Caesar salad has an exciting Vida Gourmet twist. It features a citrus flavor and is topped off with Reggiano parmesan cheese ($8.50).

Among the exciting entrees, look for pan-seared salmon with watercress coulis ($19.50), prime filet mignon with caramelized pearl onions ($32), and crispy skin striped bass saffron with a vanilla bean sauce ($22.50).

Vida Gourmet hasn’t forgotten vegetarians on the entree menu. The organic vegetarian sampler ($18.50) would be a treat for any palate. It consists of roasted mushrooms and onion tart, braised fennel sunburst squash and micro basil.

The lunch menu is a little different, but some of the items overlap. Most of the prices are lower for lunch, so check out the heirloom tomato soup ($6.50), citrus Caesar salad ($6.50), pan-seared salmon ($10.50) and grilled Mexican white shrimp ($12.50).

Among the additional dishes available only for lunch are Maytag blue cheese souffle ($7), Maryland crab and three-cabbage salad ($9), and spice-rubbed roasted pork tenderloin ($12.25).

The blue cheese souffle alone is worth a trip to this new restaurant. The roasted golden beets salad with goat cheese is another great starter. And soup lovers will adore the sweet, white corn soup with lump crab and chives offered to the lunch crowd for $7.

You will find a very fine wine list at this new eatery. Wines from Napa Valley, New Zealand, Chile and Tuscany are among the wide range of red and white wines on the menu. The desserts are outstanding as well, and Chef Winston creates them in small sizes, so don’t skip this important part of the dining experience.

Chef Winston will change the menu according to seasonal availability, but one thing will never change. Vida Gourmet will focus on fresh gourmet-quality fare that La Jollans can indulge in without sacrificing their healthy lifestyle.

If you want home delivery of the restaurant’s delicious gourmet and spa items, check out the special menu. It features spa delights such as shrimp and dill salad with bulgur wheat and hot house cucumbers, crab cakes with a spinach and arugula salad and poached salmon, just to name a few.

Get a five-day spa cuisine delivery for $168.66, and there are other delivery options as well. A three-dinner gourmet cuisine delivery costs $82.73. These meals are well designed.

Vida Gourmet is at 7523 Fay Ave. Call (858) 456-8002.