You’ve spent the day exploring the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and lighthouse, walking on the beach at Paternoster on the West Coast and kayaking in the sea. Now your stomach is growling. Luckily, there’s no way you’re going to go hungry in Paternoster, with its 14 restaurants offering everything from pizzas and burgers to seafood and fine dining. Here are 8 Paternoster restaurants worth visiting.
The Noisy Oyster
Orange, yellow and blue umbrellas form part of the courtyard ceiling décor and give shade for summer lunches. But the evening we were there was verging on cold so three fires were burning for warmth and ambiance. It was so romantic that it’s small wonder the starters, mains and desserts of normal menus have been ditched for the more titillating ‘foreplay’, ‘intercourse’ and ‘afterglow’.
We’ve been here numerous times and always enjoyed friendly and efficient service as well as great food, from steak and melt-in the-mouth fish to mussels and oysters, which the menu boards refer to as West Coast Viagra. This time I had hake with a citrus fennel sauce, my husband had sirloin with béarnaise sauce and mustard. Both were full of flavour, succulent and delicious. Crème brulée and chocolate marquise with ice cream and orange syrup rounded off a perfect meal. This is fine dining in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere.
The Square Spoon
Service was fast and friendly and whoever plated the food had an artistic eye without being overly pernickety. Other menu items were fresh fish, mussels, oysters and prawns. For an on-the-spur-of-the-moment lunch, this was much classier and tastier than we’d expected. (PS I chuckled at the sign pointing to the ladies and gents: ‘Men to the left because women are always right!’)
Reuben’s at Abalone House
The menu is small, with a handful of choices for each course. Starters included goat’s cheese soufflé, chicken livers and salads. We chose a succulent lamb shank served on mash for our main. Pork belly, rib eye steak and linefish were among the other choices. For dessert we shared a malva pudding with crème anglaise and granadilla sorbet, the granadilla giving the sweet pud a nice tang and lifting it above the ordinary. Crème brulee, chocolate truffles and cheeses also appeared on the dessert menu.
We enjoyed our calamari and chips, but it was the view and ambience that were spectacular. We were early enough to watch the sunset over the sweep of the bay while three young children played on rowing boats pulled up on the sand, just an arm’s reach away from mom and dad. A dog that adopted us on the beach earlier that day reappeared to make friends with the children and a whole deckful of people.
Ouma se Kombuis
Her husband built the wooden tables and benches that stand on the stoep and inside the old stone-walled building where sculptor Dianne Heesom-Green has made space for the restaurant until a planned waterfront development at the old fish factory gets off the ground. (This development is apparently a point of contention in Paternoster so it may take a while.) The restaurant serves a maximum of 12 people and is closed on Thursdays.
Vanessa’s cousin Carmen Jordaan, Julianna Clarke (who does all the cooking) and Charlaine Bergh are the faces of Ouma se Kombuis. They’re a jolly bunch. Carmen has a smile a mile wide and even Julianna, at first shy and quiet, has a sense of fun. Vanessa herself is a bubbly, positive person prepared to work hard for what she gets. ‘Stress? I drink stress like Coca Cola,’ she laughed.
Ouma se Kombuis is a place to relax into West Coast time. We got chatting to local resident Anita Coraizin about Paternoster in the old days and why young today people get led astray. She grew up in Paternoster and has a memory as long as your arm. She told us that Gaaitjie and Voorstrandt – both now restaurants – used to be private houses. ‘This building,’ she pointed to the whole building of which Ouma se Kombuis is a small part, ‘is more than 100 years old and belongs to the fish factory.’
Breakfast is my favourite meal here, either for the fresh fruit, granola and yoghurt served in a glass as if it were a cocktail or for the vegetarian omelette with sautéed mushrooms, onions and peppadews for piquancy.
The lunch and dinner menus include seafood – from simple hake and chips to full seafood platters – as well as burgers, steak and chicken. The main part of the restaurant (inside) is fairly soulless, so try to get a table on the balcony; it’s worth booking ahead to get a spot there.
His new restaurant Wolfgat offers a tasting menu on Wed to Sun lunch, Fri & Sat evenings, seating 24 people for what he calls a two-and-a-half-hour ‘eating journey’. He doesn’t want to offer it more often or to more people because he wants to keep the harvesting of these plants sustainable. ‘That’s why I won’t use corms or tubers where you have to use the whole plant, just ones you can harvest and will regrow,’ he said.
He has developed his menu ideas through research and experimentation, reading old recipe books, and chatting to old people and botanists, anyone he can buttonhole to talk about his passion. ‘And I’m a danger to myself when I’m driving because I can’t keep my eyes on the road,’ he admits.
I haven’t tasted the food at Wolfgat but Kobus insists he’s striving to make it delicious. ‘It may be a new taste adventure so you need to have an open mind, but we’re not making Fear Factor food here,’ he quipped. Bookings are essential.
The simple whitewashed old cottage that houses the restaurant is right on the rocks next to the sea so the views are superb. The menu includes seafood as well as guest appearances by beef and lamb for those who don’t eat fish. We got chatting to a chap near the beach – it started out as a typical Toyota versus Land Rover ribbing – and he said Gaaitjie was fabulous and we must go. Maybe next time we visit Paternoster…
Other Paternoster restaurants
Amazing to think that if you visit Paternoster you could have two meals a day, each at a different restuarant, and it would take you a week to visit all that this little town has to offer.
And I’d definitely treat myself to a second visit to the Noisy Oyster.
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