If you’re wondering why I’m writing this blog post in English there’s one simple answer: I want to share my recommendation with as many people as possible. Because there are – in my experience – four categories of restaurants:
1) Those we want to forget immediately
2) Those we forget immediately because they are nothing special
3) Those we visit again and again because we like the food and service
4) And those which are so perfect that you can’t decide whether to tell the whole world about it or keep it secret so no one else finds out about its “awesomeness”
Of course, the one I’m writing about today belongs to category 4):
The wonderful restaurant Noop in South Africa’s city Paarl, in the middle of the gorgeous wine lands.
(I wrote a bit about our trip to the Cape region here)
Located in a lovely heritage building in Paarl’s Main Road the restaurant welcomes its guests with a cosy veranda under old trees.
If you prefer to sit inside you feel immediately like in the living room of friends. It’s both cosy and stylish with a sense of hospitality that no interior designer can bring to a room.
And hospitality is exactly the word that comes to our minds whenever we remember our two dinners at the Noop. We were welcomed like old friends which feels incredible when you’re visiting a place at the other side of the world for the very first time. It was so exceptional that we said to each other: “They must think we’re some kind of celebrities. I’m sure they mixed up our names…”
But what would a restaurant be without its food? Good service and a warm welcome is important to make guests feel comfortable. But this means nothing if the food isn’t convincing. Competition is tough in South Africa’s Wine Lands because you can find excellent food in every street and at nearly every vineyard. We had some of the most delicious dishes during our trip. But our dinner at the Noop was so good that we immediately booked a table for the next day. This is really something unusual when you’re travelling around and want to visit as many places as possible during your vacation. Don’t you think so?
At our first stay we were happy to have booked a table because the place was overcrowed. And we took it as a good omen that there was a lively mixture of both locals and tourists. The menu covered in linen (see above) reminded me of my childhood fairy tale books. What could be a better start for a lovely dinner with your loved one? (Photo credits see below)
The hubby started with a salad with scampi, chorizo and parmigiano cheese. Sounds unusual but was a savory appetizer – together with one of the many delicious local wines served at the restaurant. I guess he had a Sauvignon Blanc if I remember it right.
I had mussels in a finger-licking creamy Chardonnay sauce. I never had mussels in a CREAMY white wine sauce. But this was amazing and the dot on the i. I nearly turned sad when my bowl was empty. Of course, a chilled Chardonnay was the perfect companion for this dish.
And there was more to come:
While I only had a Greek salad (I was still too full after our afternoon visit of the Fairview Goat Farm) M. had venison from the Namibian Kalahar with a sauce made of truffels, mushrooms and cream served with home made Gnocchi. (Of course, home made, since all ingredients come from the own garden, the farm or regional producers!)
Even though I’m not much into desserts I couldn’t resist the traditional Malva Pudding. A kind of cake drowned in sirup and served with Amarula foam sauce. Don’t even THINK about counting calories! But I don’t regret anything!
This night we spotted so much more on the menu that we returned the next day – without visiting any restaurants in the afternoon. I learned my lesson well!
M. started with a salmon and orange salad – a wonderful combination of the freshest fish and fruits. It was followed by a super tender Rump Steak.
I started with tuna on a salad with avocado and a spicy honey ginger dressing to leave some space in my tummy for one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: The Gourmet Burger with caramelized onions, camembert, wild rocket and truffle mayonnaise. Or as I called it: The Godfather of all burgers!
What makes this place so special is the spirit of the owners Zian Oosthuizen, who’s the creative chef in the kitchen, and Mariette van den Bergh, the warm and lovely host. I was curious to learn a bit more about their inspiration and their approach so they were so kind to answer me a couple of questions:
How did you become the hosts/owners/chefs of the Restaurant?
We were patrons before we became owners. We had a huge affinity for Noop so when we decided to purchase our own place, Noop was #1 on the list. And we were very lucky to get it.
What is your “Food philosophy”?
Unpretentious. Often spontaneous. Always delicious.
How would you describe your cuisine?
Good food kept simple. Fusion. Contemporary.
Is it typically South African? And what IS typically South African for you?
We like keeping things South-African although many of our dishes have a little twist with some French flair. Typically South-African for us would be a “braai” (BBQ) or Malva pudding or stews…
You are such wonderful hosts! What does hospitality mean to you?
Attentiveness. Attention to detail. Service excellence. Kindness. Appreciation.
Paarl doesn’t seem to be on top of the list of tourists as maybe it isn’t as picturesque as Franschhoek or Stellenbosch. Why should my readers come to Paarl?
Paarl is up & coming and soon will have much more to offer than it currently does. Also, we have a lot of history right here and boast warmth, culture & passion. As does the whole of South-Africa. And of course – the food is amazing as is our wine!!!! Our people stand united…and very proudly South-African…
We thank Mariette and Zian for two lovely nights we won’t forget. Unfortunately it’s a twelve-hour-flight to Cape Town. But with places like Noop, the lovely people, the beautiful landscape and those “oh-my-gosh”-wines a visit to South Africa is definitely worth the effort and on top of our bucket list.
Disclaimer: I have no commercial interests with this post nor were we invited for dinner. We paid for our food and wines by ourselves. This is an independent recommendation for my readers.
Pictures: All pictures are taken from the restaurant’s website by permission.