Arnold Hoon and his actress wife Annelise Bosch opened their 4-star Ah! guest house in Paternoster almost four years ago, and accommodate guests in three bedrooms. They prepare gourmet dinners for their guests, as well as for any other visitors in Paternoster, for up to eight guests in total. It was the best all-round restaurant experience I recently had in Paternoster, and this was the second visit for a meal, after having been impressed by Arnold’s creativity on a visit in January.
The wooden table looked beautiful, with a selection of 16 different candles in holders lining the centre of the table. The serviette was laid in the center of the place setting, unusually knotted. The fun part of Arnold’s table is the luck of the draw, in who one gets to meet at the table, and sits next to. On our January visit we shared the table with very entertaining Cape Town advocates and their friends, while on the latest visit I met a lovely couple from Hermanus and their friends from Worcester, and Trevor Richardson and his wife from Durban. The other luck of the draw is the menu, as one has no choice on the items on the menu, which costs R 225 for the 4-course dinner. However, Arnold is a most accommodating host, and does his homework when one books, to check on any food allergies or dislikes, and will make something especially.
Arnold ran a catering company in Johannesburg before falling in love with Paternoster. He has an amazing ability to remember his dinner and guest house guests when they return unannounced, a reflection of the personal care that he takes. Nothing seems to be too much trouble for him and Annelise, and the care they put into their dinners they also put into their beautifully presented three-course breakfasts.
One can order a bottle of wine with the meal, and pairing each course with a different wine is not the main focus of the evening. Arnold supplies West Coast wines in the main.
Arnold’s dedicated yet seemingly relaxed preparation of the meal takes place while one chats around the table. I arrived a little late, and the other guests were already seated and eating their mussel and Guinness soup, one of Arnold’s specialities, and often requested by past dinner guests. Mussels were on my food-dislike list, and therefore Arnold prepared a special dish just for me, a courgette soup served with a beautiful stack of smoked star-shaped angelfish samoosas. The highlight of the meal was a Three Cheese Salad, with beetroot, fresh pear, gorgonzola, labna, parmesam shavings, and brittle, served with a soy and sesame seed wholegrain mustard dressing. Everyone at the table loved the crunchy brittle, and the gorgonzola in particular. Our main course was a red wine and mushroom risotto served with tubes of calamari stuffed with oxtail – an usual combination of elements but very tasty. For dessert we were served a vanilla semifreddo with a slice of dried fruit and nut baklava, on top of which was a slice of port-soaked fresh fig, drizzled with mint syrup. An heavenly end to an ah! evening.
Ah! Restaurant, Ah! Guest House, 1 Mosselbank Street, Paternoster. Tel 082 464 5898. www.ahguesthouse.com (The website is disappointing in not providing a sample menu or winelist, with very few food photographs in the Image Gallery. However, Ah! Restaurant is one that one would get to hear about by word-of-mouth in the main).
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com