Just opened in April 2018, Norval Foundation merges the showcasing of South African art with a spectacular natural setting. Located in Steenberg, adjacent to Table Mountain, the sleek and modern building cuts an impressive figure against the dramatic skyline, the curves of the four-hectare sculpture garden just visible upon entrance.
But that’s just one of the reasons to visit; The Skotnes Restaurant and Bar, purpose-built galleries, outdoor amphitheatre, research library, shop and a children’s playground all excellent reasons to make this your next outing in the Southern suburbs.
Founded by the Norval family, and guided by Executive Director Elana Brundy (an important member of the team that launched the Zeitz MOCAA), Norval Foundation’s aim is to make art widely accessible to local and international visitors alike, with proceeds from capital donations used to secure the foundation for future generations.
There is no permanent collection, but rather two major exhibitions and four to six focus shows every year. Check out the The Homestead Art Collection – one of the leading collections of 20th-century South African art assembled by the Norval family over the past two decades.
Other inaugural exhibitions include Spectrality, Sorcery and the Spirit by Adjunct Curator, Portia Malatjie; Pulling at Threads by Chief Curator Owen Martin and US, THEM & I by Adjunct Curator Performance Khanyisile Mbongwa.
The Skotnes Restaurant and Bar
Overlooking the foundation’s wetland and sculpture garden, is The Skotnes Restaurant and Bar, named after legendary South African artist and teacher Cecil Skotnes. Led by Executive Chef Phil de Villiers, the menu pays homage to South African cuisine.
Dining at The Skotnes is something special, the interior and design so lovely that they’re only outdone by the spectacular views, fully visible through the floor to ceiling glass doors that invite the outside in. Inside, brass-edged marble tables commingle with velvety green chairs and caramelly leather; a richly textured ceiling, and lighting features drawing the eye upwards in this sleek space.
Sipping on glass of local beer and bubbles respectively, we perused the menu over the herby bread sticks, finally deciding on a balance of fish and the enticing venison. Incidentally, all ingredients are sourced locally from small-batch suppliers. This means that vegetarians are equally as catered for, with dishes like the heirloom beetroot salad, and salt-baked celeriac and caramelised pear showcasing imagination and thought.
The local inflections in each dish elevate them to new heights. One does not simply enjoy grilled calamari, the tentacles served here on a bed of light mealie pap topped with chakalaka (a local curry-based sauce). The linefish crudo (tuna in our case), is given the Cape Town treatment with pickled spekboom, avocado, and lemon atchar. Both were lip-smackingly good, and not too heavy to move on to the main event without hesitation.
There is even a special menu for smaller guests, so little ones are made to feel fully welcome.
For mains, you might gravitate towards the meatier dishes like the freerange ribeye steak (Chef is a master after all), or brave something more unusual like the venison (I had the kudu and it was marvelous – the game perfectly tender and juicy), fire roasted sweet potato agnolotti with karoo crumble, or the truly South African amabuthu cheese and tomato braai broodjie (the ultimate toasted sandwich).
And to end? Well there is a mini dessert trolley for a reason. With too many sweet temptations to choose from, this is the obvious solution. However, if you had to choose just one, opt for the Japie se gunstelling (Japie’s favourite in English). A type of sticky toffee pudding, this warm, rib-coating comfort is topped with roasted naartjie, marmalade caramel, burnt honey & macadamia ice cream.
To drink, there is little reason to stray from the local selection. Indeed the sommelier stocks some of the very best wines from Steenberg, and beers from the Noordboek-based Aegir Project. He’s also on hand to advise pairings, our particular Steenberg red a delectable compliment to both the fish and venison.
In summer, picnic baskets will be available for order, along with a gelato stand – the perfect snack for sculpture garden meanderings.
Norval Foundation and The Skotnes Restaurant are the kinds of places where you’ll want to return again and again. But making your first booking is the first step to doing just that.
Blog post by: Tarah Darge