The siren call of Paternoster is strong. Its devotees flock there in their hundreds and the jostle of Jags and Land Rovers on the weekends attests to the popularity of what used to be a quaint little town.
Words by Greg Landman
Chef Garth Almazan, who for more than fifteen years plied his trade so successfully at Catharina’s in Constantia, can now be found re-inventing himself at his restaurant, Leeto, which means “journey” in Khoi. The restaurant forms part of the luxurious Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel and is a haven of taste and tranquillity.
Garth is still very comfortable in his roots but the name of the game is fresh, fresh, fresh—with an edge. He is not one of those chefs who place 20 different things on a plate just to show how clever they are. The dish might photograph well but how does it taste? There must always be a main “star” on the plate around which all else should revolve but “the Star” must be what makes it all work.
Take for instance his superb Malay Spiced West Coast Mussels, which are available as a starter at R85 or a main at R135. Fat and juicy they are, rich and satisfying, with just enough bite to give them some oomph. If you would rather start with freshly shucked oysters with a splash of Tabasco and lemon oil they are R22 each. Prawn and calamari risotto made in delicious bisque is nice and rich and has a touch of masala making it quintessentially Cape — and is also available in two sizes.
The proximity to the sea—the restaurant is right on the beach—makes seafood a natural choice. Garth gets his fish fresh at Paternoster or goes into Saldanha, where it comes in off the trawlers, so one can always expect it to be the best he can get.
Nevertheless one of the signature dishes is superb venison which is served with pickled shemeji mushrooms and sweet potato purée and some nice tart gooseberries to take the edge off it perfectly.
The knockout dessert features an intensely rich chocolate delice with salted caramel and caramel popcorn. Do bear in mind the menu is in a constant state of flux and is seasonally affected. The wine list is more than adequate, featuring some serious wines from the West Coast, service is smooth and friendly with Garth’s wife Cecile in control, the setting is superb, so get yourself there and unwind in style.