(Yes, that was a geopolitical reference to Brexit. Leaver’s rejoice, you’ve ruined the country).
I can hear you now. ‘Dolsee Vita?’ ‘Dolkee Vita?’ If you’re new, and not Italian, you’re a little confused. It’s okay. As Dolce’s promo team make an effort to point out on every banner, the word is, in fact, pronounced DolcHe.
As a whole, the name literally translates to “Sweet life” – indicative of how the menu is all Italian (its not) and solely compromising of desserts (nope).
What it is, however, is a bundle of delicious; an amalgamation of dishes you scarcely see on a University campus menu outside of Oxford or Durham. Hummus and steak? Beef Bulgogi? Katsu chicken? It’s like they took a steakhouse, threw it into The Korean Cowgirl, and tied it all together with a nice Wagamama’s bow. What kind of university campus does Korean chicken wings and pan-fried squid?!
Being spoiled for choice, especially choice this varied, does not bode well for me. I spent half of my lunch break deciding which of these divine dishes to try, and the other half convincing myself I was worthy of them. After 15 minutes of deliberating, I made my decision: I was to betray the Thai food stand I had been a patron of for years, and instead opt for Dolce Vita’s Green Thai Chicken Curry. This was a big moment. I had to capture it from several marginally differing angles.
Okay, admittedly, it looks a bit odd with the prawn crackers. Focus on the bowl itself and you’ll understand why my hunger levels multiplied threefold.
I wanted to dive into it; swim till it was empty, which took a tenth of the time it took to decide on the thing. Delicious sticky rice bathing in warmly spiced coconut milk. I felt like I was eating right, whilst enjoying every minute of it. How often does that happen? Once it was gone, I was satisfied. Not full, by any measure, but satisfied. The prawn crackers had served their purpose in palate, if not aesthetic, by providing a much-needed contrasting crunch. I had treated myself with zero guilt: I was being reasonably healthy, eating a very reasonably priced dish, whilst moderately impressed at the outcome.
Where you eat is just as important as what you’re eating, and nine times out of ten a university chooses to ignore that (see Hut 8). With Dolce Vita, things are a bit different. It has a more restaurant feel. It’s a place I’d want to take someone to, and not feel like I was on campus. If it’s a nice day, there is plenty of seating outside to eat near the beautiful pond filled with ducklings. In the summer, the greenery is also home to the wildly popular musical event Keynestock.
Dolce Vita, in a sentence, is an escape from the monotony of university life. The place is by no means a Jack of all trades – but neither is it a master of none. Whilst the Thai Green Curry was delicious, I know the place has more to offer. Vita’s Katsu Curry, for example, has a cult following among alumni, staff, and students alike. I, myself, have had it on many an occasion. Could it, perhaps, be the best dish on campus? I’ll need to give it another ago, along with the multitude of deliciousness that Dolce Vita has to offer.