So today we’re driving up the West Coast of South Africa to a little town called Paternoster – about two hours from Cape Town. This is my dream town, with its blue and white sparkle reminiscent of Greece and a healthy dose of Weskus gees (it means West Coast spirit in Afrikaans in case you didn’t know). The sparkling blue sea, white sandy beaches and laid-back attitude make me feel instantly at home.
And, surprisingly for such a small town, there are plenty of lovely restaurants serving delicious local dishes. So the first thing to do on arrival is…go for lunch.
We headed to Leeto which is in the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel. Leeto translates to journey, and the restaurant is named in homage to the Khoi tribe who lived here, as well as signifying chef Garth Almazan’s (who was born and bred in Cape Town) own journey here from the Constantia Winelands. He worked for 18 years at Catharinas at Steenberg before heading west to start up on his own – running the eatery with his wife Celeste.
Garth takes his inspiration from his surroundings (and these are some surroundings) and the restaurant serves specialities of the region with fresh seasonal produce. The restaurant is set looking out over the dunes and perfect white sand towards the blueness of the sky and sea that makes Paternoster so beautiful. This is the sort of place you want to settle into for a very long lunch – well that was our plan anyway.
What’s on the menu
There’s inevitably a lot of menu discussion and indecision at Leeto. I loved the fact that some of the starters can also be ordered as main courses – though of course this can create more confusion!
Not with most of our table, though, who went a bit prawn-crazy with nearly everyone ordering this delectable starter. The plump tiger prawns were poached and served on a parsley and lime veloute with rocket, pineapple, grape and coriander salsa.
I love a tartare so couldn’t resist the local yellowtail. Served with pickled ginger, sesame seeds, lime, fresh herbs and lime aioli and topped with salmon roe, this is the ultimate summer dish with stunning Asian flavours. The fish was so fresh and the sauce had a perfect zing.
It’s time for mains
The Chalmar beef sirloin was served with an earthily delicious wild mushroom tart, potato croquette, onion soubise, asparagus, sauted spinach and baby carrots. And it was topped with an indulgent truffle jus.
Fish and seafood are king in Paternoster. And here’s a way to try them all. The West Coast seafood linguine is made with sustainable fish (Garth is big on sustainable produce), prawns, mussels and calamari and the incredible sauce includes spinach, spring onion, slow baked tomato, shiitake mushrooms, soya and chilli cream sauce. The description on the menu totally speaks for itself. Yum pasta heaven in a bowl.
There’s also a good selection of South African venison. Like this amazing springbok dish. The perfectly pink loin was served with a pulled springbok croquette, gratin potato, carrot puree, mange tout, pickled shiitake mushrooms, gooseberries, parsley oil and pea shoots.
More seafood – this time in a risotto. The freshest of prawns and calamari was served with a tomato bisque, garden herbs, baby salad leaves, chilli, cream and basil oil. And the risotto was oohed and aahed over with every mouthful. So balanced with the most wonderful flavours.
West Coast mussels are legend! My go-to dish whenever I’m in this heavenly part of the world. And I was right! The Malay-spiced mussels were served in a sauce of curry spices and coconut cream with a tomato, red onion and coriander sambal. Honestly if you have never eaten West Coast mussels you should make it a goal in your life. They are so sweet and juicy and the light, creamy sauce had the perfect chilli hit.
Sweet treats to finish
I’m not a huge pudding eater, apologies to all my readers who are! But today we were in a big group so ordered some puds to share. Just as well, if I’d ordered this Amarula creme brûlée for myself I’d have polished it all off. And quickly. Amarula is a South African liqueur made from sugar, cream and the fruit of the African Marula tree. It’s so yum – and added a punch to the perfectly creamy brûlée.
A heated discussion ensued after dessert while everyone argued about whether they preferred the brûlée or this amazing lemon posset served with a crispy tuile and fresh raspberries. The posset won the vote (okay I was outvoted) – but how lovely that the puds were so amazing they caused such a passionate debate.
Oh Leeto! I bet your mouths are watering just looking at these beautiful pictures. Wishing I was back there right now taking in the stunning beach views. And tucking into more of Garth’s fabulous food. I’m already planning next year’s trip. Seriously. And here’s that view – not bad. Ek het my hart in Paternoster. Word jy gou term. I’ll certainly be back.
Leeto is in the Strandloper Ocean Beach Hotel, Paternoster.