It is not often that one experiences the coming together of all things gastronomic in such an exquisite fashion as a group of us recently did at Priva Gastrolounge. This gem located in Waterkloof Pretoria is simply spectacular. If you’re looking for a premium fine dining experience, Priva is it!

Having awarded Priva the title of Best Crème Brûlée earlier this year, expectations of what the rest of the menu had to offer were certainly high. Well forget about these expectations being met, they were exceeded to such a degree that Priva is now one of our firm favourite restaurants by a country mile.

Right from our arrival, it was clear why Priva is a multi-award winning epicurean space. We were warmly welcomed by the owner, Marko Jovancic and manager Michael. Both men whose knowledge of food and wine cannot be faulted. Chef Kabelo gave us a tasting of every item on the menu beautifully paired by Marko with the very best local wines. It must be said that he is not only a wine expert but a serious connoisseur. Oh how we appreciate finding one of those on the African continent. Marko knows his stuff and it was a treat to have each bottle explained to us and talked about before sampling it and then to discover how carefully it had been paired with every dish on the table.

Whilst we waited for Kabelo to work his magic on the “Gastronomique” Tasting Menu, we enjoyed two of Marko’s award winning cocktails. One for the gents, “Single Millionaire” and one for the ladies, “Pear Blossom Martini” which were both prepared with great flair at the table.

We could certainly write a full book about the details of every dish, all of which were outstanding. A full menu description is below. One of the favourites around the table were the Springbok Carpaccio, presented with grilled strawberries, toasted pine nuts and a mango purée. Having spent time in Canada, Gregg knows his salmon and he was extremely impressed with the Salmon Tartare. The flavours of the wasabi cream and dill foam were perfectly balanced with the explosion of the citrus earl grey spheres. The flavours of our starters were brilliantly complimented by a bottle of 2014 Silverthorn ‘The Green Man’. With the bar already set so high, how could the evening get any better? Only in the most delicious way…

In our next round of dishes, paired with Diemersdal Gruner Veltliner 2017, the seemingly simple Stuffed Calamari was a winner. Stuffed with cream cheese, danish feta and jalapeno and then served in a creamy garlic sauce. Everyone just wanted another helping. It was hard for us to find the right words to express just how good this dish was.

Then came the Pork Belly and again the flavours were unbelievable. Tender meat with a perfectly crunchy crackling. From the sole, kingklip and lamb to the venison and sirloin each of the mains were exceptional. With all these delicious dishes we enjoyed Babylonstoren Rose Mourvedre 2017 and Morgenster 2000 Lourens River Valley. A unanimous favourite was the humble mashed potato but with a twist. A dash of Amarula. A clever execution which had us all discussing how to replicate this at home.

Ironically, Gregg one of our Best of Brûlée judges does not have much of a sweet tooth. He even managed to put his dessert prejudice aside to sample Priva’s decadent sweet offerings. Dessert’s wine pairing was a triumph – Kaapzicht “Ice” 2009. Much Gregg’s surprise, he found myself raving about the cheesecake and this is not something that happens often in fact if there is one thing he tends to avoid, it’s cheesecake, even in New York. Our tasting journey was rounded off by Espresso Martinis and some of the finest cognac.To end the evening, we were treated to a tour of the wine cellar and private dining room. Followed by some time in the humidor and cigar lounge, puffing on a very special Hoyo De Monterrey Sabrosos cigar. All while discussing Marko’s vision for Priva. It’s so very special and to find a restaurateur with such knowledge and passion.

Overall the night out at Priva, which ended well past the witching hour, is something we will remember and speak about for a long time. If you want a special evening where you are treated like the only diners in the world, where the food and wine are heavenly, Priva is the only place to go!