Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lunch at Oep ve Koep, Die Winkel op Paternoster

This restaurant in Paternoster has earned many kudos and we decided, before we went to Paternoster on our summer holiday, that we would treat ourselves to lunch there. It was not cheap, but it was an exciting and very different experience, as the young chef Kobus van der Merwe, the 2014 winner of the Nederburg Rising Star Award, is a true forager and innovative cook. He combs the local tidal rocks along the uninhabited coastline and grows unusual local herbs and plants in his kitchen garden at the restaurant. The menu changes with the seasons or his mood or what he finds
You do need to book and they require a deposit or your credit card details when you do as, surprisingly, they have had many group 'no shows' and this for a small restaurant can be very expensive and a huge time and food waste. He prepares everything fresh so don't expect it to be a quick lunch. Dinner is only for groups of 8 or more people, which made us feel rather excluded and lunch is in the garden when possible. Restaurant open Wednesdays to Sundays
The restaurant is on the left at the crossroads as you come into town
The shop is full of interesting local bottled produce and cooking equipment, some touristy things and freshly baked bread and cakes
Our shady table in the garden
Chef Kobus explaining the dishes to other customers
The first course blew our minds. We have often see the ice plants (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) growing on the dunes and had no idea they were edible. They need washing to get rid of the sand but are satisfyingly crunchy and nicely salty. They are served with a dip of !Nara (wild cucumber) oil flavoured with wild celery seeds, into which you dipped the leaves
This was served with a bitter Fynbos vermouth made by the chef
We took along a bottle of one of our favourite Chardonnays De Wetshof 2013 Bon Vallon and it was perfect with the innovative food. Corkage was R35
The menu for lunch that day
A smiling Chef Kobus van der Merwe
Also served with the ice plants are limpets, minced and cooked in butter and seasoned lightly with nutmeg. Absolutely delicious and the poor man's version of abalone - now try prizing them off the rocks and cleaning them yourself. With the necessary permit of course
The drinks list. Some good local wines. A new brand for us is Teubes which was sold in many Paternoster restaurants, and which we need to taste
The next course was an oyster served with a lichi granita, a squeeze of granadilla, topped with samphire - the best oyster John has ever had
We had warned them of our allergies and Lynne was served an ice plant taco of litchis, granita and samphire in an ice plant leaf. One to emulate at home!
Jars of some of the local fynbos species for you to examine
The huge bougainvillea hedge is breathtaking when in full flower with lots of different brilliant shades
Chef serving our next course of plump Saldanha Bay mussels in a Sauvignon Blanc jus, fresh Cape gooseberries (Physalis peruviana) which added a nice kick of acidity, and dune spinach. We grow lots of the gooseberries in our garden so we might also try this at home
This came with freshly baked bread and Bokkoms butter for dipping. Bokkoms are salted and air dried fish, usually harders or mullet, known also as fish biltong. Reconstituted in oil they can resemble anchovies
Baby nasturtium leaves also added for flavour
Next course was thick slivers of hot pickled kelp and crisp deep fried sea lava seaweed with watermelon rind and bitter leaves of celery or parcel. We love eating seaweed, more usually at our local Chinese restaurant, so this was enjoyed
A bowl of homemade mayonnaise and *sour fig nectar. *These also come from the Mesembryanthemum family and are a favourite of children as you find them at almost every coastal resort. They have a salty, sour and tangy fruit flavour. A tart jam can be made with them
And to accompany this dish came the sour fig leaves bearing sage smoked Angelfish made into balls and deep fried. You dipped them into the mayonnaise. Crisply delicious
Watching us while we ate, a Cape Robin chat
The next dish is quite contentious for us. One of the most well known and popular dishes of the Cape, with huge Cape Malay influence is Pickled fish. If you grew up with it, you love it. Lynne didn't and she doesn't enjoy its sour sweet pickled fish mixed with intense curry flavours. Be assured this is an excellent expression of the dish, we have no problem with it at all. We just don't enjoy it. It was ceviche style, served with sour yoghurt, Louis Leipoldt's egg sambal with coriander, a peach mebos, a peach and turmeric chutney which had lots of turmeric, and a small smoked tomato. Lots of work for the chef on one small plate which we do appreciate
Pretty coriander flowers. Lynne thinks better on the bush than on the plate. She likes the seeds but not the leaves
When we enquired about wild celery, chef brought is a plant from his garden to show us. It does indeed taste just like good celery seed and might be one for a Cape herb garden
Dessert may not have looked very big or impressive, but was Chef's expression of milk and honey revisited. A light buttermilk sorbet flavoured with honey and topped with unusual dune celery meringue - crisp and light honey flavour on the green meringue, a good end to a great lunch The set lunch costs R325 pp, not including service or wine. Thank you Chef, a very good meal
Two young ladies in conversation
The bill
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016

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