As an online journalist I’ve read all the press releases. “Time Square will be Sun International’s flagship property when it opens in April, comprising a state of the art casino, hotel, conference facilities, restaurants and retail outlets. It will also house an expansive 8 500-seat Arena; the only venue of its kind in Pretoria, playing host to international and local concerts, exhibitions and lifestyle events.”

Undoubtedly all of that is true, but it didn’t get me particularly excited. We publish many of these press releases daily after all.

Then came the email – an exclusive invitation to join Time Square’s culinary artists for a ‘gastronomical food adventure’. Sounds intriguing enough right?

However, I was not prepared for what awaited me.

We, as the special guests at the event, were given one task on the day- choose your favourite dish. Now for some people, it was simple enough, but with every dish they brought out, I was more blown away. At one stage I took a bite and burst out laughing, the deputy group editor of Pretoria Moot Rekord, Corné van Zyl, asked me what I was laughing about and all I could say was that I was speechless. Never in my life have I experienced anything like that before. I’m a foodie of note, so since my arrival in Joburg I’ve gone to all kinds of different places, always trying something new and different. This, however, was an experience that I simply couldn’t compare to anything else. I felt like I had been blind for my entire life and had finally been given the gift of sight.

The table was set in the main kitchen, where they showed us all the state-of-the-art appliances, gadgets, instalments and everything else that would make any professional chef green with envy.

The focus of the theme was timeless memories and there were vintage clocks and hourglasses everywhere to portray this.

Bread and cheese aren’t strange or unfamiliar to anyone who goes to restaurants often enough, but from simply looking at the spread of breads and butters, I already felt a tingling inside. I knew that this unique subtlety set the bar quite high from the get-go.

Brett Hoppé, General Manager at Time Square, welcomed us to this magnificent event and introduced the team of culinary artists. During this introduction, it was already quite clear that Brett and his team are proud to be a part of this amazing project. The way they talk about every aspect of the venue, every implementation – this isn’t just a job to any of them, they’re passionate about what they’re doing and they’re passionate about what they’re offering to their clients.

The seven courses that followed Brett’s introduction was out of this world. I would love to go into detail about each and every meal, but it’s difficult to put all of what I experienced on my plate into words and even though the English language is beautiful, Shakespear wouldn’t be able to do these meals justice. More so, the team informed us that what they served on the day would never be repeated in that order or in that context. It was a once in a lifetime experience and some of the dishes were specifically created for that menu (including a special Red Bull desert, which was to die for).

What I did do however, just to give you taste of what awaits you at this destination for gastronomical adventure, is create a table of what was served and which wines they paired with it. Although this would not truly encapsulate the experience, it does give you a very good idea of the effort, thought and creativity that went into this event and will go into anything and everything they take on in the future.

1st Course – Chef Ronald Ramsay 

Prawn, saffron sphere, oyster leaf

Tokara Wine Director’s Reserve White Blend

2nd Course – Chef Chester Graham

Charcoal, 64⁰ egg, gazpacho, prosciutto

Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc

3rd Course – Chef Justin Jonah

Salmon, pea, cauliflower, lime

Saronsberg Provenance Shiraz Rosé

4th Course – Chef Adrian Vaughan

beetroot, lavender, lemon verbena, walnut

Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir

5th Course – Chef Ramon Gouws

Wagyu, onion textures, watercress, horseradish

Jacobsdal Pinotage

6th Course – Chef Lee-Andra Govender

Cheese, balsamic, iberico, cashew, apple

Simonsig Chenin Blanc

7th Course – Chef Sean Mann

Violet, blueberry, coconut, red bull

Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé

Just for interest’s sake, I thought I’d mention that the 2nd, 3rd and 6th course received the greatest praise, but I will plead the fifth simply because I’m still taken aback by the wonder that was this day.

Nothing about Time Square is accidental or coincidental, they’ve taken everything into consideration. As a client – events planner, guest, gambler, diner or attendee – you won’t find anything even slightly out of place or below par… and this is coming from someone who spent half a day at a venue that’s not even completed construction yet. Imagine the possibilities once it opens in April, imagine the possibilities once the arena opens… I for one, am excited beyond belief.

Thank you Sun International, Time Square and The Mail Room Communications for a wonderful experience and I honestly hope many more of our readers have the privilege to create similar timeless memories at this venue.