Are you a traveller coming to Cape Town in search of a uniquely South African foodie experience? Does eating dune spinach, West Coast oysters and smoking nectarines sound like your kind of thing? Then read on dear reader.
Tucked away in an unassuming town called Paternoster, perched atop a cave and overlooking a long stretch of beach, is Wolfgat. Run by acclaimed chef Kobus van der Merwe, the small restaurant is famous for locally foraged ingredients. An adventure through West Coast food, you really have to experience Wolfgat rather than read about it. This review and others scattered across the Internet just don’t do the whole thing justice.
Discovering the restaurant quite by accident, I have since realised that a lot of people are unaware of this little gem.
The seasonal tasting menu
I’m not even going to attempt to wax lyrical on the menu. Safe to say that if you consider yourself a foodie and if you like seafood, add this to your Cape Town itinerary. The seven-course lunch took us roughly 3 hours to finish. Using seasonal, coastal ingredients the food is experimental and innovative. I guarantee you’ve never seen or tasted anything like it before. Some ingredients are picked fresh on the day, whilst others are foraged and prepared weeks in advance.
Highlights included the soutslaai, watermelon and fennel starter and the Saldanha Bay mussels. The amasi and sage ash sorbet, wild sage meringue and nectarine smoked over wild sage branches is quite something to see. In fact, I’ve purposefully left those images out.
The local wine selection
They have a small selection of local, sustainable wines, naturally chosen to complement the menu. There is also a wine pairing option. If you’re unsure the chef is on hand for recommendations and suggestions. We opted for a bottle of Vuurberg White.
The relaxed, seaside atmosphere
Situated in a 130-year-old cottage with a low-key entrance, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it’s someone’s house and driving right past. We did. On walking through the front door you will be taken aback by the view that awaits you.
Wolfgat is small and only accommodates 20 diners. Assisted by two waiters, Kobus brings out and explains several of the dishes himself. Having the chef describe each dish really added to the overall experience. You can follow the renowned forager-chef on Instagram where he shares ingredients, as well as the stories behind some of his dishes.
Book online using the Wolfgat website. It’s advised that you book well in advance. Cape Town is quickly becoming an all-year-round tourist attraction, so it’s best to book early and avoid disappointment.
Would I go back?
In a heartbeat, however, it would have been better to stay in the area, versus driving back to Cape Town. If you have the opportunity to stay over, then do so. It’s quaint, off the beaten track and a uniquely South African foodie experience.
The Test Kitchen or Wolfgat?
Surprisingly this question has come up a lot from visiting friends and tourists, so I’ve added it to this post. It depends on your preferences. If you like seafood and enjoy the outdoors, Wolfgat will most likely be a better experience for you. At R750 pp (Mar 2018) Wolfgat is less than half the price of TTK, which is now a heart-stopping R1800 pp for the tasting menu alone.
Personally (I can hear the lynch mob forming) by comparison, TTK lacks ambience and story and the overall experience felt underwhelming. That said, The Test Kitchen has received much international acclaim. Ranking 50th on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 List, it is a different kind of South African foodie experience to Wolfgat.
I’ll let you make up your own mind.