By Talia Avakian
February 19, 2019
Groblerdu Preez/Getty Images

Diners in search of a meal that comes with magnificent ocean views and ingredients picked straight from the land will want to head to Wolfgat, a seaside restaurant in South Africa that recently took the title of the world’s best restaurant.

The eatery, which only takes about 20 diners at a time, was recently crowned the Restaurant of the Year by the World Restaurant Awards, an inaugural event celebrating restaurants in various categories selected by a panel of restaurant journalists, influencers, and culinary professionals from 37 countries.

Wolfgat was praised both for its food selections and for its location.

“If mother nature erected a sign saying ‘build restaurant here,’ it would surely point to Wolfgat," representatives from the awards panel wrote of the restaurant's remote surroundings.

Located in the small, historic fishing village of Paternoster on the West Coast of South Africa, the restaurant is housed in a more-than-century-old cottage directly on the beach atop the Wolfgat cave, which has been known to house artifacts dating back over 2,000 years.

A view of the landscape in Paternoster.
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Thanks to its remote seaside location, Wolfgat focuses on a seasonal tasting menu that utilizes indigenous ingredients foraged from the nearby grounds in combination with sustainable seafood, lamb, and venison selections.

Diners can often catch local fisherman bringing in their catch from the day while they admire the stucco-white architecture of the village, all creating an experience that makes the diner feel as though they’re “among the first to discover a place,” according to award representatives.

Take a look at the video below to learn more about the space:

Chef Kobus van der Merwe, who dropped out of his catering college course and traveled the globe to draw inspiration before opening the current eatery, focuses on letting the wild ingredients that surround the natural landscape become the star of his dishes.

Van der Merwe and his team will forage for elements like wild plants and coastal seaweeds that are used in dishes ranging from watermelon salad served with pickled melon rinds, celery shavings, and pumpkin seeds, to smoked mussels with wild, lightly-smoked sage branches and pickled kelp.

Some elements on the menu can take weeks to prepare, while others are picked on the very same day. The ingredients are also kept simple to highlight local wild selections as visitors would find them in their natural state.

Van der Merwe also looks beyond the traditional restaurant makeup, hosting a team of employees that are all locals of the area with no formal training in the kitchen. No distinction is drawn between those working the front and back end of the restaurants, creating a true family-feel in the kitchen.

With dishes that rival noted eateries across the globe, the restaurant’s seven-course tasting menu is only priced at about $60 per person, offering visitors an intimate experience coupled with fresh ingredients at a low price.

Bookings are kept at small numbers to ensure sustainability, while ingredients are kept simple to give guests a taste of what they would look like when seen in the fields.

Those interested in trying Wolfgat in person can book reservations online can for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday and for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings.