“When strangers gather happily together at a table, it’s because they’re getting something more than a standard meal or drink out of it.” So says Adee Braun in her article Alone Together: the return of communal restaurant tables.
There is definitely nothing ‘standard’ about the food or drink at Julia Hatting’s Reverie social table in Observatory, where strangers gather happily at one long table to enjoy a delicious meal, great local wines and friendly conversation.
Since graduating from Meerendal Hospitality Academy, Julia has served her time in the kitchens of various respected, local chefs, won the Sunday Times young chef of the year award (2010), completed a Patisserie course in Paris and worked in a Michelin starred restaurant.
But it was in October 2015, inspired by friend and mentor, the late Bruce Robertson, that Julia moved to Observatory where she’s opened her very own, cosy little Table D’Hote.
By day, the Reverie social table’s eighteen seats are packed with Observatory locals enjoying a hearty meal at a very reasonable price – the plat du jour following the whims of both the chef and Mother Nature.
Moroccan inspired Cassoulet with chicken and chickpeas
Potato and green bean salad with sour cream
Reverie’s bread is legendary. It’s freshly baked on the premises and served with organic farm butter with just a sprinkling of course salt.
At night the place transforms and tourists, having discovered the Reverie’s social table via the on-line travel grapevine, are her dedicated devotees. For R700 a head, Julia prepares five delicious courses to compliment the six different wines she’s selected from a local estate (wine estate and menu change every two to three weeks).
Yellowtail tartare with seaweed, capers, cornichon, smoked custard, horse radish, radish, caper berries, spring onion tops, shallot chips and trout roe – paired with Keermont’s Syrah
Julia’s food is a joy to behold and a delight to eat. Her style is classical, but with a fresh twist that keeps it relevant and exciting.
Octopus terrine, saffron passion fruit vinaigrette, fennel salad and flowers, radish, almonds, trout roe and chorizo oil – paired with Springfield’s Miss Lucy
Sharing an extended evening seated at one long table with a bunch of strangers turned out to be loads of fun! I met a festive group of American teachers based in Doha, a British couple out on Safari to celebrate her remission and his fiftieth, an eccentric French restaurateur in leopard-print pumps and his vivacious German wife, and a cute young French couple who made ‘just friends’ look suspiciously romantic!
It was definitely more than your standard meal with drinks, resulting in a very happy gathering of strangers at the aptly named social table, chatting and laughing well into the night and long after the last plates had been cleared.
Be warned though, this is no timid wine tasting – the juice of the grape flows generously from the minute you walk through the door and I strongly advise you to Uber on the night.
Reverie social table is fast becoming an Observatory institution. You can’t go wrong by popping in for lunch, and I highly recommend her wine pairing dinners. It’s a fantastic way to better acquaint yourself with local wines, meet interesting new people and indulge your taste buds.
If stranger-danger makes you hesitant, take advantage of the Reverie’s social table winter special in May and June and invite a bunch of friends – book for 4 people or more for the 5-course dinner with wine pairing and pay only R550 per head.
Treat yourselves, you’ll have a great evening!