Eating at Wolfgat: when life is almost too beautiful
The 130+ year old restaurant building is perched upon Wolfgat cave – an archaeological and geological gem overlooking the Paternoster dreamscape. Local legend has it that the underground passages extend some kilometres inland, and some even say that it stretches all the way into Cape Columbine reserve, with more than one southern exit.
Entering Wolfgat is not like entering a lion’s den. It is a cool, calming and welcoming space featuring an open-plan area that sees you standing almost right inside the kitchen. It is beautiful. From design to colour palette, it’s loyal to the Strandveld and West Coast aesthetic.
The seasonal tasting menu is inspired by the area, its weather and indigenous produce. Some ingredients are handpicked on the day while others are prepared for weeks in advance. Only +- 20 guests are served per sitting.
From where I sat on the veranda, the feeling of being part of something quite extraordinary washed over me. It feels special, utterly unique and already (even before I had eaten a bite), delicious.
Then the food came.
The first dish, an amuse-bouche (one bite) of Soutslaaiblaar served taco-style with angelfish and gooseberry. Possibly the most refreshing thing I have ever eaten.
The 7 courses were well spaced out, allowing for laughter, wine drinking and anticipation-building. Chef and owner Kobus van der Merwe described each dish as it came out to the table. We looked on doe-eyed, almost in awe of the curation, conceptualisation and cooking of ingredients. Many ingredients we had never heard of before, i.e. twice cooked laver, duinekool and slangbessie.
The predominantly seafood-based courses are light, beautifully presented and ultimately every bite is palate popping. Some of my favourites were: a perlemoen dish featuring coconut granita, the home-style fresh bread course served with bokkom butter and the dune celery ice cream.
This experience was very much just that though, about the experience. Both a process of sensorial stimulation and discovery. To me, it was almost too beautiful. Only in the sense that you simply cannot capture it or relay it to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Like taking a photo of a beautiful landscape, one simply has to experience it first hand in order to truly feel, see, taste, smell and hear the beauty of it. It cannot be defined, it can only be experienced.