THE SKOTNES AND NORVAL: Paying homage to traditional SA dishes – each with a new twist

THE SKOTNES AND NORVAL: Paying homage to traditional SA dishes – each with a new twist

The recent opening of Norval Foundation in Steenberg marks a significant addition to the art world.

Along with the impressive modern museum, purpose-designed to spectacularly display contemporary artworks, comes The Skotnes Restaurant & Bar, which is the culinary arm of Norval Foundation. Named after legendary South African artist Cecil Skotnes, the restaurant is naturally at home in the world of art.

The restaurant is immediately on your left just before you enter the main museum area. It was a conscious decision to make this space – as well as the museum shop – available to all visitors without them having to pay an entry fee. The décor and architecture blend natural elements and colours as the double volume space leads out onto a deck which overlooks the wetland and sculpture garden.

Chef Phil de Villiers pays homage to traditional South African dishes on his menu, giving each of them a new twist. When last, if ever, did you see that much-loved favourite Ouma used to make – jaffles – on a fine dining menu? De Villiers makes them and serves them with tomato smoor and sambal, and fills them with Cape Malay braised brisket and peach chutney, or spinach, feta and butternut. Mom had one for her main course which was thick with slices of tender and moist fynbos honey roasted gammon, smothered with melted emmenthaler and garnished with crispy onions.

For starters, I had linefish crudo (tuna on that day) with avocado, lemon atchar, tahini and cucumber. Creatively plated, it was an unusual, but pleasing combination of flavours. My mother chose the chicken liver parfait, which was topped with plum jelly and served with mosbollettjie toast.

Other starters include grilled calamari with crispy tentacles, sweetcorn mieliepap, chakalaka and radish; soup of the day; and heirloom beetroot with almond milk, smoked grapes and fynbos vinegar.

While Mom had the jaffle, I ordered the free range ribeye steak, prepared at the temperature recommended by the chef. I anticipated he would not overcook it, and he didn’t, but it was slightly warmer than I expected. The meat was gorgeous with a nice bit of fat on it. The dish is served with parsley pesto which doesn’t contribute much other than a swirl of dramatic colour, but the crumbed nuggets of bone marrow were utterly delicious. There’s normally an amabutho (cheese) and tomato braaibroodjie that comes with this, but I asked for it to be left off the plate and ordered a side dish – mini cast iron skillet – of roasted cauliflower with sweet and sour peppers, sumac and pickled sultanas. The cauli florets had a lovely char on them, and this was a winner.

Your other main course options at lunch time include fish with peas (or just pea, according to the menu), kale, pickled spekboom (eternally disappointing this is not an actual bacon tree), an “an amazi” (which, according to zulu-culture.co.za, “is considered a delicacy and may only be consumed by family members”); sweetcorn risotto; braised lamb shoulder bobotie (deconstructed); and a beef burger, which I was told is one of the biggest sellers here.

For dessert there is piesang brood complemented with granadilla components, “textures” of cherries with coconut milk boeber, and roasted naartjies with burnt honey and macadamia ice cream.

There is also a dessert “trolley” selection – a board brought to the table by the waiter – containing small sweets to finish, from which you can choose one to four different confectionaries. I had coffee, and Mom had a chunk of white fudge studded with fruit. “Mmmmmm….mmmmmm” was all I heard from her.

* Entrance to the museum is R140 (free on Mondays), or R200 for an annual membership card, which includes 10% discount on your food bill at The Skotness.

The Skotnes Restaurant is open Mondays to Fridays – pastries & coffee: 10am – 12pm, lunch 12pm – 3pm, platters: 3pm – 5.30pm, dinner 6pm – 10.30pm; Saturdays for brunch 8am – 3pm, platters 3pm – 5.30pm, dinner 6pm – 10.30pm; Sundays for brunch 8am – 4pm.

Sekoto Bar is open Mondays to Fridays 3pm – 12am, Saturdays 12pm till late, Sundays 12pm – 6pm

To book, send an email to info@theskotnes.com; for eight or more, email bookings@theskotnes.com. For more information, call 087 654 5902; or visit www.norvalfoundation.org/skotnes-restaurant/.

Mother City Fine Dining

By Bianca Coleman