For a country with such a large coastline, it’s surprising how few (good) seafood restaurants are to be found on the shore. Where can you literally swing open a door and step onto a sandy beach, while your little ones play safely a few metres away. In Paternoster, these sorts of spots are a dime a dozen – our lunch spot Gaaitjie, a case in point.
The unpretentious whitewashed former fisherman’s cottage overlooks the tiny working harbour, and boasts sweeping views of the rocks, pristine white-sand beach and the bay beyond. But don’t let the barefoot-beach vibe of this casual eatery fool you, there’s loads of fresh fish and seafood to be had, and a seriously impressive winelist to be explored.
We arrived for a birthday lunch on a warmish winter’s day and were seated at a spot on the back verandah, which also boasts views of the sea, as well as a teeming parking lot.
We’d eaten at Gaaitjie the previous year on the exact same weekend. At that time, current owners Valmé Jooste and her brother Jaco Kruger had just taken ownership of it, having bought it from previous owner-chef Suzi Holthausen, who helped them settle in by staying on for the first few months.
Suzi’s signature – a tantalising blend of local West Coast and international flavours – is written all over the current menu, devised by Jaco. Our bread course – homemade brioche-like towers with a smack of rosemary – hit the spot while we perused the menu. From a choice of six starters, the two Banters among us went for the Saldanha Bay mussels, steamed in a fragrant white-wine broth with cumin and lime leaves (R75), proclaiming them to be very tasty and slurping up the broth after. My kataifi prawn tails, served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce and pickled cucumber ribbons, were perfectly cooked (but the batter was not kataifi at all, and was a little thick for my likings).
From seven mains, all four of us opted for the fish of the day, which was danja-marinated kingklip, served with roasted baby potatoes, wilted spinach and baby marrow (R145). It went down a treat with the utterly exquisite Saronsberg Brut (R240 for 750ml), an inspired recommendation by Valmé. I was surprised not to find any kreef on the menu – this is the West Coast after all…
The Banters declined dessert, obviously, so we shared a chocolate crème brûlée served with berry sorbet (R60), which rounded off the meal nicely (though I’d have preferred an ice-cream accompaniment).
Fresh fish, an unbeatable location, and warm West Coast hospitality will ensure we visit again. As the restaurant was full on a midwinter’s day, we recommend booking ahead to avoid disappointment.
Open: Thursday – Monday 12pm – 10pm
Contact: 022 752 2242
Location: Off Sampson Street, Paternoster