Reverie Social Table
The idea of sharing a meal is a social situation that we all enjoy on a daily basis. The irony nowadays is that we seem to spend more time photographing it and sharing it on social media – ultimately engaging more with our smartphones than the person in front of us. At Reverie Social Table in Obs, the idea is to get back to enjoying a meal sans smart phones, sans trying to capture the perfect angle and instead actually participating in a delicious meal and meaningful conversation.
The chef behind this idea is Julia Hattingh and the restaurant is the realisation of her personal dream. A small space, with one long dining table that seats 18 people is all there is to it and its simplicity is its charm. With warm lighting and simple, artistic touches it feels welcoming and relaxed. The restaurant is modelled on a table d’hôte style of dining where guests are served a 5-course meal; there are no choices or changes to be made, and that in itself is refreshing. It takes the work out of choosing, and also forces you to eat things that perhaps you wouldn’t normally choose on a menu, pushing you out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to fall into the habit of always picking what you know, and its great to actually not have the choice and to be surprised by each course as it arrives.
Julia is an accomplished chef having worked for Gary Rhodes at the Michelin star-awarded Rhodes 24, as well as with Chefs Adam Gray, Andrew Barkham, Omar Romero and Gregory Czarnecki, Executive Chef at Waterkloof Estate in Somerset West. After spending time abroad in both in London and Paris, she returned in 2014 as the head chef at Holden Manz and has now opened Reverie in her own capacity.
The food is vibrant and reflects Julia’s bubbly and open personality. The evening we dined we enjoyed the launch menu that kicked off with Franschhoek salmon trout served with black sesame seed paste, samphire, and a strawberry and orange blossom smear. The next course was the unusual combination of confit pork cheek, served family style with a warm lentil and bulgar wheat salad and lemon atchar. This course really wowed with fresh flavours and pork that was simply meltingly tender. The main course of braised beef flat rib was another win. This cut is one of my favourites and again, it was so tender and braised to perfection in rice wine vinegar. The flat rib was served with plums roasted in bone marrow fat, beetroot and spring onion, with beef broth.
To finish, we enjoyed a stunning white chocolate panacotta served with fresh apple, walnut and sunflower seeds. There was mention of there being some French white pepper and I found this right at the end in the finest layer dusted at the bottom of the dish – this was a surprise and was the ideal bright finish to an exquisitely smooth and rich panacotta. The courses were all paired with wines from Black Elephant Vintners, a small Franschhoek winery that is producing outstanding boutique wines. A favourite of the night for me was the Timothy White, a white Bordeaux blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Being that the restaurant only seats 18 and everyone is seated at one table, you are bound to get to know your fellow dining partners well, which after all, is kind of the point. The atmosphere is relaxed and while the food is quite rustic in style, it maintains a sophisticated elegance that elevates this from just another restaurant, to a special dining experience that should not be missed.
Reverie Social Table, 226A Lower Main Road, Observatory, Cape Town
Note: Reverie Social Table is open for morning coffee from 11h00, and lunch (plat du jour) is served from 12h00 to 15h00.