Despite wearing my fanciest dress and a pair of actual high heels (so high I can’t really walk in them), when I pull up to the One&Only in my wee blue Spark I can’t help feeling a little out of place, particularly when a seriously swanky BMW pulls up next to me. One final layer of lipstick and I slip the killer heels on, take a deep breath and head for Reubens.
As I’m the first to arrive, I use the time to arm myself with a Cosmo and to watch the beautiful people around me as they float around between the bar and the arm chairs dotted around; the men mostly in business attire and the ladies smart in heels and elegant dresses. It’s time for the main event now so I totter off to Reubens and am at once greeted by the lovely Ian Manley and the indomitable Aubrey, famous in my household for being our favourite dinner guest on Come Dine with Me. I immediately SMS my brother who tells me to relay to Aubrey our appreciation of his opera and witticisms. I do not, but I probably should have.
I meet the other lovely media guests and we assemble around our table, which is chic and sophisticated to match its surrounds. I eye the five little beer tasting glasses in front of me with a bit of foreboding; I’m not a beer drinker, but tonight I’m determined to make an exception. The wonderful Pete Goffe Wood comes to greet us with a beer in hand, and introduces the first course: a goats cheese panacotta with crisp cauliflower and toasted pumpkin seeds, accompanied by the Devil’s Peak American Pale Ale.
When it arrives, it is just beautiful. The panacotta is light, airy and simply sublime (apparently the clever chefs use less gelatin to give it a more mousse-like consistency), and perfectly matched with the woody pumpkin seeds and crunchy cauliflower. I have to force myself to eat slowly and savour every bite – as a goats cheese enthusiast, it has to be one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. The beer smells fruity, like passion fruit, and although I still don’t particularly savour the flavour, I can appreciate that it pairs well with the food.
Reuben comes to introduce the next two courses – he explains how the ingredients are all chosen to get the best out of each other, but I lose focus slightly when he smiles. He does have a very nice smile. Soon a gorgeous steak tartare is placed in front of me, made with tarragon mustard, miso-cured beef biltong, compressed makataan (wild melon), smoked beets and a gorgonzola dressing, and served with the Devil’s Peak First Light Golden Ale. I’ve been dreading this course slightly as I’m a bit scared of raw meat and blue cheese, however, as soon as I take the first bite my fears are allayed. It’s delicate, meaty, salty and sweet, with a sight burn from the mustard which titillates the palate. It’s also beautifully presented; as a painter, I appreciate colour, and the rich-ruby red colours of the meat, paired with the deep-purple beets and verdant leaves take the dish to another level. I sample the beer and am quite pleasantly surprised – it complements the richness of the tartare beautifully and it’s actually very drinkable (if my cousin reads this he will not be impressed with me, as he’s one of the founders of Beerguevara and a serious Devil’s Peak enthusiast).
I’m beginning to wonder how I can possibly eat anything else when the Kingklip goan curry arrives, oven-baked in tamarind and borrie curry sauce with baby potatoes and green vegetables with a spiced orange puree. The fish and potatoes are baked in a paper parcel and are placed in front of us still unwrapped. The moment I break through the paper, the most sumptuous, spicy aroma fills the air and all of us smile, excited to tuck in. The fish breaks apart and is perfectly cooked and complemented by the sauce, while the vegetables are crisp and slightly sweet. It’s utterly divine, and paired with the Devil’s Peak Silvertree Saison, which turns out to be my favourite beer of the night – I almost finish the whole glass!
Pete’s back to introduce pudding, and as he does so, my mouth starts to water. A sticky toffee pudding is placed in front of me with milk stout ice-cream and a crispy biscuit that tastes tantalisingly chocolatey, along with caramel and biscuit crumbs. I have a sweet tooth so suffice to say I was in heaven. The crisp biscuit was a delectable contrast to the gooey toffee pudding, while the ice-cream was a refreshing and slightly bitter after-note. I could have eaten a least another whole pudding despite being ridiculously full – that’s how good it was. The last beer, the Devil’s Peak Black IPA, was too dark and rich for my taste but the other guests said it was their favourite.
Dani (my lovely friend from House & Leisure) and I asked Pete for photos and he kindly posed with us and took an accidental selfie in the process, after which we chatted to Reuben and took a few snaps with him as well. It was just the most glorious evening with two of my favourite Masterchef judges. Sated, smiling and supremely impressed, I said my goodbyes, determined not to let this be the one and only (it’s a pun!) time I experience Reuben’s magnificent masterpieces. Thank you to my hosts; it was a memorable night indeed.
Reuben Invites evenings involve a 4-course gourmet meal carefully put together by Reuben in collaboration with some of South Africa’s top chefs. The next one will be happening at the One&Only on the 28th May with Chef Michael Goode from Vergelegen. It’s the perfect date night event, especially if you happen to be dating a Masterchef aspirant foodie like myself (ahem Thomas).