If you’ve read my 2017 Must-Visit Restaurant List, then you’ll know that one of the spots I was dying to visit this year is Reverie Social Table. Turns out that dreams can come true – no matter how small –and I had the chance to join Reverie for their Paul Rene bubbly and food pairing dinner.
The concept behind Reverie Social Table is pretty cool. There’s one large table in the centre of the restaurant and everyone sits together. The point is to be social. Phones are a no-no so that guests spend time interacting with their fellow diners. Of course this was a little difficult for me and my fellow foodies as we had to make sure we got snapshots of everything along the way, but it was actually pretty amazing not to be concerned too much with social media and this and that.
The group that joined me on the evening was lovely, a mix of fellow foodies, some friends of mine, local guests, and international diners. I sat towards one end of the table with Llewellyn from Hospitality Hedonist, Sam from Drizzle & Dip, Mira from Hot Oven Marketing, Seth from Cape Town Best, and Henk from Paul Rene – and had the most amazing evening talking to each and every one of them!
The pairing evenings at Reverie Social Table are quite spectacular. I’d describe Chef Julia Hattingh as a culinary superwoman. She does every single thing for her restaurant from designing the menu for each evening, creating the dishes, plating, and entertaining her guests! Of course she has some lovely staff that help, but the gems that come out of the kitchen are all her. For the pairing evenings, Julia designs a five-course fine dining menu around five wines or, in this case, bubblies.
We were lucky that bubbly maker Henk van Niekerk joined us for the evening as well. He spoke about each bubbly before we got to try it. Julia, of course, did the same for her food, sharing her inspiration, ingredients, and pairing notes.
After some welcoming bubbly and some of Julia’s fantastic bread, we started the evening with the first course: Fresh mussels with cauli veloute, lemon atcha, seaweed dust, and chonzo oil, served with the Paul Rene Lees Brut (bubbly before it’s corked). Wow. This dish absolutely blew my mind. If it was any indication of how the rest of the evening would go, then I was in heaven. Literally. I didn’t know what to expect from Reverie. I had heard wonderful things about them but had only joined them for simple lunches before, so the beautiful complexity of this dish made my taste buds dance. It truly was divine.
Starting off on such a high note, we moved on to the second course: Trout, served with a miso glaze, aubergine caviar, strawberries, trout roe, sesame paste, and sesame seeds. This came served with the Paul Rene Brut Rose. All the flavours worked so beautifully with the intensity of the trout. The Brut Rose, of course, is one of my favourites, and it was absolutely perfect with this dish.
The evening continued with the third course: A beetroot and shallot tarte with fig chutney, goat’s cheese, radish, and pea shots. This course was served with the Lees Brut Rose. A quick note on the lees: Lees refers to the deposits of yeast and other particles that occur during bubbly-making (or generally any fermentation process). These collect at the neck of the bottle, and need to be removed before the bottle is corked. The bottles have a cap on them, which is then popped open at a certain angle to enable the lees to literally pop out. On the evening, Henk from Paul Rene demonstrated this for us. The lees bubbly is somewhat different in taste to the final product, but I actually quite liked it.
Following the third course (which I quite enjoyed even though goat’s cheese isn’t generally my favourite), we went on to the fourth one: Duck breast served with pumpkin puree, mushroom & green bean ragout, mushroom powder, and mustard & caper cream. This was served with a Paul Rene Pinot Noir. This one is not available commercially, though we did try to convince Henk that it absolutely should be! Will let you know about any updates on that. The duck was delightful – soft and juicy – and I loved the mushroom & green bean ragout!
After a little bit of a break, we moved on to the fifth and final course of the evening. Here we enjoyed a delectable dessert with apricots, frozen yoghurt, white chocolate cremaux, lemon polenta sponge cake, and orange blossom. I loved this dessert. Often I find desserts way too sweet for my liking, but this one was fresh and beautifully tart, giving that perfect ending to the perfect evening. The dessert came paired with the Paul Rene Brut, a true classic.
Well, it wasn’t really the ending as we all still stayed at Reverie Social Table for another good hour, enjoying more Paul Rene and relishing in the wonderful company. Chef Julia also joined us after dessert to answer any questions and entertain.
I don’t think I need to give a ‘final verdict’ on Reverie Social Table. It’s quite blatantly obvious that I absolutely loved the evening, loved the food, loved the atmosphere. The restaurant itself offers this tiny little bubble of food, wine/bubbly, and entertainment that’s so completely removed from the outside world – partly due to the lighting, partly due to its somewhat isolated location, and partly due to the nature of the one-table setup. It truly is wonderful.
The pairing evenings are priced at R700 per person, so you might want to keep this for a special occasion. But it’ll definitely be worth it. If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper introduction to the restaurant, then join them for their amazing daily lunch deals.
You’ll find Reverie Social Table at 226A Lower Main Road in Observatory. For more information, visit their website here or check them out on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. There are many more pairing evenings coming up, so keep an eye out on their social platforms. If you already know that you need to make your reservation, well, then e-mail Julia on email@example.com or give her a call on +27 21 447 3219. Enjoy!
Review Date: January 2017