For those like me who barely frequent Sandton, it was an interesting discovery to find such a gem of a place in the hub of the province’s economy.
Well, it wasn’t so much a discovery as it was an invitation, but I was nonetheless pleasantly surprised with the atmosphere and feel of the venue. The Course is just that - a journey into a food and designer cocktails experience that will leave you wanting more.
I was invited to explore the menu along with other journalists and bloggers on a sunny afternoon that allowed the sun to kiss our skins through the glass windows of the venue.
A lot of attention has been placed on the interior design of the place, making it modern and comfortable at the same time. From the marble and cushions to its wooden flooring, the space is designed to be elegant yet comfortable for guests to sit back and relax through the “sensory spoils”.
Taryn Louch, our hostess for the day, gave the best description of the atmosphere at The Course.
“It’s a gentle lull of the cityscape, drone of commuters, taxi hooters, murmur of conversation, the clinking of cocktail glasses, the tinkling of knives and forks, cocktails on bar and swinging kitchen doors.”
The menu was set up to allow us to taste all the different elements available at The Course.
We were welcomed with their mouthwatering nibble planks that were a spread of either a meat plank or a vegetable plank. The meat plank had options from prosciutto (dry cured ham), salami, mortadella (Italian sausage), Danish feta, buffalo mozzarella, delicious basil pesto, sundried tomato cream cheese (heavenly) and Peppadews with rocket and roasted tomatoes and an option of crostini. For non-meat eaters, there was some grilled vegetables with Chevin (goat’s milk cheese), smoked provolone, pecorino and olive tapenade (puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, and olive oil). A mouthful to read and an informative learning experience for someone like me who did not know that there were so many variations of cheese in this world.
Our starters were broken down into four flavourful elements that took the taste buds to the next level.
Mind you, I overindulged with the planks so the space in my stomach was already limited. Our tasting was a presentation of Arancini tomato and pea risotto balls, salmon fish cakes, tuna tacos and mushrooms bruschetta.
“The Course provides a stylish respite from the bustle of Sandton,” said Louch, as she set the tone for the event.
We were then given a presentation on fine-cutting tender meat and tasting the Florentine T-Bone steak with three sauces exclusive to The Course.
The bar selection is supposed to demonstrate the playful nature of change through three elements - the quarterly reserve; quarterly liquor features and stocking one style of alcohol for a limited time period.
The brands on offer will be sourced with premium quality, variety and rarity in mind. Tapas-style plates will offer an exceptional and individual pairing experience alongside the quarterly reserve.
The Collaboration Collection is a series of signature cocktails that are bottled, labelled and signed as the SLOW Collaboration Collection, presented in exquisite crystal bottles.
Last element is the Standard Selection, where guests are not restricted and may at any time order their “usual” from the standard drinks menu.
For our quarterly reserve pairing we were given the 12th Vineyard, which was a high-class cocktail that combined a Glenfiddich 12-year-old shaken with pineapple juice, Chardonnay and a hint of vanilla. The drink, served in a Martini glass was topped with thyme dust. Over the top? I think not. The mixture was soft on the palate and left us wanting more. I’m convinced that three more of those and I would have been crawling out of the place. It’s that good.
The cocktail was paired with a soya and honey pulled pork served between layers of coconut melba and a thyme/pineapple chutney.
The creativity of the drinks comes from the talented hands of Joshua Garthwaite. The mixologist made the drink I ordered on the side, an Ol’ Irish. It sounded simple enough but I saw the effort that was put into making it - anything but simple. The drink itself was a Jameson whiskey mixed with stout syrup and a dash of bitters.
“What we’ve done here is taken the Irish whiskey, the Jameson Caskmate - it is blended in milk stout casks. What we try to do is look at the flavour profiles of everything. In the Ol’ Irish is the whiskeys and stouts.”
Garthwaite started training fresh out of high school in 2015.
“I needed a job so I went to my friend’s brother’s company, Molecular Bars, and worked as a part-time bartender for a while, then became bar manager, then got involved and found a real love for it. It’s all about making the experiences that people have amazing. My passion is in making the guests love the total experience in an inviting venue.”
Before my stomach was about to pop I managed to fit in the main course - a choice of beef fillet, salmon or peri peri chicken. I opted for the salmon dish. It was glazed in mustard and maple syrup and served on a citrus couscous and dill crème fraîche.
The mustard and maple blend was outstanding. Dessert was a tray of cheesecake, pear and ginger crumble as well as a pistachio macaroon with rose ice cream treat.
The pear and ginger crumble melted in my mouth without being too sweet.
The play on flavours and presentation make The Course a must visit at least once a week, to remind yourself that the city does truly have some glorious gems within its hustle and bustle.
The Course at SLOW in the City opened in March and is open daily, from 7am to 9pm on weekdays, and available for private events over weekends.