Known for its laid back locals, breathtaking vistas and superb food, Paternoster is the perfect destination to escape the madness – which is what I did in early November last year. My mission? To eat my way through town, one restaurant at a time. What follows is my selection of Paternoster’s prime pozzies:
The Noisy Oyster: 022 752 2196 – 62 St Augustine Road, Paternoster
Dinner at the Noisy Oyster should be appreciated with company. The place is warm and inviting and the staff almost over-the-top about making you feel at home. Frayed 30 Seconds cards lie scattered on the tables, the menu is tongue-in-cheek and every scatter cushion I’ve ever discarded in a fit of modernist rage has found its way here.
I started simply with fresh oysters, moved on to sardine fillets dusted in flour and fried to a crisp, and ended with locally caught Hottentot served with citrus aioli and a truly memorable herb pesto. The meal matched the mood and all was well in my world.
After repeatedly beating myself at 30 Seconds, I moved to the front veranda for coffee and a smoke. It was still early and I was able to give my table to a couple who hadn’t booked. Now it wasn’t just the good food giving me that warm glow as I sat there late into the night, sipping the last of my wine and soaking up that Weskus vibe.
Blikkie Pizzeria: 022 752 2246 – 32 St Augustine Road, Paternoster
By morning I was starving and deeply regretting the wine I’d consumed the night before. I’d have loved a flat white and a fresh croissant but found no bespoke bakery, no suave Barista churning out coiffured crema – not even a stall selling traditional rusks and condensed milk coffee (for which I could have killed).
The heady smell of sizzling bacon and onions finally led me to a licensed pizzeria about the size of a postage stamp, perched snugly against a hill overlooking the town. Blikkie pizzeria not only serves a mean breakfast pizza, but has the best views of Paternoster, hands down…
I could just imagine winding down on this veranda after a hot day on the beach, swilling ice cold beer and scoffing pizza with a bunch of friends, the sand still chafing my toes. The pizza was good, everything was fresh and the base crispy. But unless you like Wimpy-style coffee, order alcohol.
Gaatjie: 022 752 2242 – Off Sampson Street, Paternoster
Suzi Holtzhausen is resident chef and owner of Gaaitjie Salt Water Restaurant, an intimate little spot right on the beach. Suzi may appear intimidating in her tiny galley kitchen as you squeeze past steaming pots and clattering pans en route to your table-with-a-view, but to truly understand her character, you need to eat her food.
I loved the spicy yellow tail Masala served with lentil dahl, basmati rice and a crispy papadum. My fish was not only local and sustainable, but cooked to juicy perfection and rich in flavour.
For dessert I had the most delectable date and apple crumble with moskonfyt and custard ice cream. Suzi’s food evokes happy memories of home, family and familiarity – food like your mom wishes she could cook. This is highly skilled love on a plate and I can’t wait to return.
Oep ve Koep: 022 752 2105 – St Augustine Road, Paternoster
My final stop was at Kobus van der Merwe’s Oep ve Koep, tucked away behind his mum’s quirky shop. Kobus has a reputation for living off the land and cooks with ingredients that many would consider local flora.
First up were fresh oysters on the rocks with slithers of pair and snippets of local wild herbs – there was no doubting their terroir.
Oep ve Koep’s mussels with smoked springbok are in a league of their own. Kobus manages to combine the delicate with the deep, emerging with fleshy mollusks in a rich and smoky broth, peppered with edible flowers. His food is almost too pretty to eat, but I didn’t let that stop me.
I’d thought he might be an arrogant foodie, but Kobus is as natural and humble as the produce he forages and the food he serves. Lunch was a delicious lesson in taste, locality and humility.
Stone Fish Gallery: 082 824 8917 – St Augustine Road, Paternoster
If you’re not in Paternoster for the fishing, then you’re left with very little other than eating, drinking and loafing. Or you could let Dianne from Stone Fish Gallery save you from your lethargy with a swift lesson in paddle boarding or even a potty ceramics class. Her gallery is beautiful, representing not only her own works but also those of other local artists. Stone Fish has Wi-Fi and serves a pretty decent cuppa Joe too.
Despite my best efforts, I merely scratched the surface of places to eat and things to do. Whether it’s food, fish, photos or just a break from reality you’re after, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Paternoster – a mere two hour journey north west of Cape Town.
For more information on places to stay, where to eat and what to do while visiting Paternoster, click here.