10 Sampson Street, Paternoster, 7381, Paternoster, 7381, South Africa
Sadly I didn’t have a chance to visit Wolfgat in their location in Paternoster in South Africa, but I was grateful for having had a chance to taste some of Wolgat’s dishes at the Taste of London.
Wolfgat was this year’s double winner of World Restaurant Awards: Kobus van der Merwe and his team have gained the award as the Off map destination of the year as well as the Restaurant of the year award. “The place is super simple, rustic yet perfectly elegant. We sat by the fireplace. The restaurant is directly on the beach with an ocean view. We could watch the fishermen go out, come back and empty the catch from their brightly coloured boats. The village of Paternoster is stucco white, like somewhere in Greece, charming and not touristy. Essentially, it’s a dream of perfect balance, unspoilt charm and accessibility. You know that feeling you get when you feel that you are among the first people to discover a place?” wrote the inspectors who went to visit it.
Kobus has brought to London something that made me imagine tasting the sunny flavours of the South Africa with the freshness of the ocean and intensity of the fruits and plants and that was a great success.
Kobus’ cuisine is based on the wild ingredients, with strong roots in local terroir and seasons. Taking Kobus out of Paternoster and let him cook in London was a double challenge for the chef – firstly, he and his team had to cook in London using the local ingredients that he went foraging to Kent and yet recreating flavours of the ingredients he is using in South Africa – so creating Wolfgat flavours without the classical Wolfgat ingredients. And secondly, they couldn’t rely of the magical effect of the location of Wolfgat as described above by our inspectors. We could only imagine how it would feel enjoying the dishes he prepared on the terrace of his restaurant listening to the waves of the ocean and smelling the perfumes of the salt and plants brought by the winds. Instead, we were in a less magical tent in the middle of the Regents park, and yet, the dishes were amazing. My personal favourite, the mussels with nectarines and nasturtium, made me imagine how the South African ocean kissed by the sun tastes. The sweet sunny flavours and perfumes of fruits and plants that were meeting the saltiness and umami of the sea with mussels were out of this world and for some moments I managed to forget I was actually in London. It is a cuisine of purity, intense flavours, lots of freshness and beautiful presentations that makes you dream of flying to South Africa to taste it in the real home of it.