Wolfgat: a destination restaurant that celebrates Paternoster’s coastal beauty


Brought to you by Lexus

In the heart of the Western Cape, in the serene village of Paternoster, lies a culinary gem known as Wolfgat, helmed by the visionary chef and owner Kobus van der Merwe. This off-the-beaten-track restaurant has found itself receiving the prestigious Eat Out Lexus Best Destination Award 2023 – a dining experience definitely worth the trip.


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 Wolfgat’s journey began in September 2016, within the walls of a historic fisherman’s cottage tucked away on a quiet Paternoster side street. The restaurant’s origins trace back to a tiny makeshift kitchen in the backyard of the family store, Die Winkel op Paternoster, where Kobus and his team passionately explored and experimented with local produce.

The concept was born when the team discovered a one-of-a-kind beachfront location that offered breathtaking views of Paternoster Bay, where the historic Wolfgat cave lay hidden. This discovery inspired the restaurant’s name, a homage to this extraordinary historical location.

Paternoster’s endearing appeal lies in its rich early history, natural beauty, distinctive architecture, and the warm, welcoming community that calls it home. Wolfgat’s remote location is a deliberate choice. The unique landscape, with its specialist fynbos vegetation, dramatic seasonal transformations, and ever-changing weather, played a pivotal role in the decision. The restaurant aims to immerse guests in all these elements of the region, creating a dining experience that captures the overall essence of Paternoster.


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The restaurant’s menu features a selection of carefully curated dishes, with the abalone dish served with seaweed and mushrooms standing out as a current highlight. Other signature dishes include the white mussel parfait, Saldanha mussels with a wild garlic masala, served with a steamed mussel custard and sambals, and the renowned melted bokkom butter, served with their distinctive bread course. “When we do a seasonal menu refresh, we tweak and refine the dishes as a team,” elaborates Kobus. “What ends up on the plate – including the final flavour profile, what vessel it is served in, and which cutlery is used – is a complete team effort.”

Inspired by the Saldanha Strandveld fynbos biome surrounding the restaurant, the menu is a constant exploration of new flavour profiles and dish ideas, often conceptualised during ‘studio’ days when the restaurant is closed. Music also plays a crucial role, influencing both the ambience and the creative process. For Kobus, cooking shares a deep connection with music, both requiring elements of composition, rhythm, texture, and harmony.

The interior design mirrors his personal style, with a naturalistic ‘Weskus’ twist. The historic fisherman’s cottage’s authenticity is preserved, while receiving a heritage-conscious update by local architect Johann Slee, showcasing original lime wash walls, bare wooden tables, and a mix of vintage and local design chairs, often accompanied by family heirlooms. All crockery is designed by Kobus and crafted by ceramic artist Tessa Gawith, while the cutlery includes vintage pieces, custom designs by a local bladesmith, and classic Arne Jacobsen sets.

With an undeniable strong connection to the ocean, from its beachside location and sweeping views to its exclusive use of ingredients sourced from the sea and shoreline, the idea behind the space is to create an immersive experience for guests. Iconic local seafood, local seaweeds, succulents, herbs, and duineveld herbs contribute to the strong thalassic theme that defines the Wolfgat experience.


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Wolfgat has also recently launched Dispens, a shop and café-style eatery at Die Winkel op Paternoster, celebrating typical Strandveld ingredients and bespoke homeware. And, tantalisingly, a third food and drink concept for the Wolfgat family is on the horizon, promising even more culinary delights.

In a country of many destination restaurants, Wolfgat shines as a culinary experiential haven, where the menu is a tribute to the land and sea and the wonder of Paternoster’s coastal landscape.

Click here to see the full list of winners for 2023!

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