Here be Goblins
Sam Weber


In the mood for an aimless drive into the countryside, Clive and I set off in the general direction of the Magaliesberg late one Sunday morning.  We roamed past the turnoff to Hartbeespoort, took a left turn here, a right over there...  With the intention of making a slow dance back to Pretoria we took a few roads less travelled and chanced upon a sign pointing to The Goblins Cove, an appealing sight for avowed fans of all from Frodo to Harry Potter and Rincewind. 

Like a phantom octopus the magic reached out welcoming tentacles as we got out of the car and started ambling on curvy footpaths lined with footlights and tall trees, drawing us in.  Around a bend we found a diminutive woman with a charming smile, come to welcome her guests and offer us a table for lunch.  We accepted and followed Charlise to the goblin's cove.

 Next to a magnificent water wheel, at first hiding a rowdy sculpture of exuberant patrons around a piano, just where the peacock perches in the corner, we found the front door of a house of pure imagination and enchantment. 

 The passage of The Goblins Cove Fantasy Restaurant embraces nooks and crannies, alcoves and balconies, each table exquisitely private.  The terracotta walls are adorned with artwork and life affirming quotes.  A delightful sense of humour is displayed in bead curtains made of cutlery.  This house offers food for both the body and the soul.  Lovingly visioned and created with both care and a gleeful lack of inhibition by an extraordinary family the buildings themselves have taken on an organic quality.

 All the way up sleeper wood stairs is the cigar and cognac lounge.  Comfortable sofas draped unobtrusively invite you to sit and sip until the wee hours, leafing through books on fairies and pouring over Nanny Ogg's Cookbook.

We were seated at a well-dressed table on a balcony overlooking the narrow lake sculpted from the Berg river.  The sun reflected off the water, sending shimmers of delight up tree branches and down the walls.   Time came to a standstill.  Space curved around the cove.  All of the universe disappeared into the infinity of this one experience.

Jacques fed us smooth house wines with the instincts of a genie and answered my eager barrage of questions with grace.  Professional hospitality, poetry in motion. The menu explains that a ten percent service fee is automatically added to the bill.  You will want to give more.

In this fairy world we were served food fit for the gods.  Chef Thomas is an inspired and original man indeed.  In one who loves food, this man is able to inspire tears of gratitude.  The food was a suffusion of tastes.

He has respect for the opulence of the natural flavours of seafood, while aromatically coaxing humble bobotie mince to a climax of spice wrapped in phylo.  A warm balsamic dressing over the seafood salad left the lettuce pliable, yet still crisp.

From the main course menu arrived in fanfare the apple smoked chicken, surrounded by precocious baby apples - tart, but in the nicest possible way.  The soft white meat was smoked to perfection while retaining a juicy succulence. 

From the dessert menu was carried on the wings of fairies rummy baked bananas bathed in the sweetest (again, in the nicest possible way) syrup, all nestling in a flaky pastry cup, gently spilling whipped cream.  

And everything presented with artistic attention to detail and style - cuisine that fuses into a symphony.

Replete, we hand in hand explored a little of the Wonderland around the restaurant.  Weaving around aviaries housing little Joseph birds in technicolor dream-feathers, we giggled at the giant Snakes and Ladders board of stepping stones with real wooden ladders and gaily painted logs for snakes.  We were discreetly shadowed to the river's edge by a friendly cat, not averse to closer acquaintance.

It is not often that we encounter perfection on this earth nowadays.  It is gratifying to know that Art is alive and well and living in all its splendid mutations in The Goblins Cove.  Follow your intuition down the Magaliesberg Meander, and just when you think you don't know where you are, possibly even at the end of the universe, there will be a sign that really should carry a friendly warning that, besides goblins, "here be love".


Contact details:

Website:            http://www.goblins.co.za
Restaurant:        014 - 576 2143
Cellular:            082 901 5851