Gaatjie (meaning small hole) is a restaurant we have always wanted to visit in Paternoster. Housed in a little white cottage on the rocks, barely suspended above the sea and looking out to endless ocean, it has a dream setting. But we shouldn’t have bothered, and should have rather opted to get a takeaway from one of the friendly pizzerias.
As we arrived shortly after 18:30 we were shown to our table outside, while admiring the setting. However, as soon as the darkness and then the hypothermia set in, it became less picturesque as we struggled to eat while clinging on to blankets, longingly gazing at the blazing fire keeping the indoor tables toasty. If we had been told that our table was outside, we might have been better equipped. The only other couple to be shown to a table outside left five minutes later, muttering angrily.
Although the wine list is concise, offering a few fine wines from the region, don’t expect any direction in choosing one. “You could try that…they’re all good,” was the reply to our query. Luckily the Lemberg Pinotage (originally made by an old friend, South Africa’s first female winemaker Janey Muller) was delicious.
Service, amiable at first, decreased to the dismal as the evening went on, the plummeting air temperature deepening parallel to the cordiality of our waitress. I think the first significant drop was when we were asked to order quickly, before the restaurant got too busy. This was (almost) okay, but the fact the nobody came to take said order for the next twenty minutes was just a little too ironic. By the end of the evening, we weren’t even offered dessert, and as the lapses between us seeing another human had stretched to ridiculous lengths of time we had to take our (significant) bill inside to settle (where we found the staff sitting behind the bar. On their cell phones).
Gaatjie is the brainchild of talented regional chef Suzi Holtzhausen and the food that comes out of her open-plan Gaatjie kitchen is, for the
most part, delicious. However, after two courses I was still hungry and wanting more. The dishes are very small, almost tasters, which would be fine were it not for the R195.00 price tag (price for one or two courses, no sharing). Oh, and when ordering a steak, don’t expect anyone to ask how you’d like it. It’ll come as medium-well.
With such a beautiful backdrop, a passionate owner who is a talented chef and fresh ingredients at their doorstep, Gaajtie gets so much right but still managed to leave us cold (literally) and hungry. It would be nice to think that our experience was not a typical one, but either way it was ours. After paying city prices I certainly felt guilty for recommending the dinner venue.
Have you had a similar experience? How was your dinner at Gaatjie?
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