Words Belinda Mountain | Images: Claire Gunn & Dave Southwood

Norval Foundation opened in Steenberg on 28 April, bringing a unique space to Cape Town dedicated entirely to art and culture, set against the backdrop of the Table Mountain National Park.

The Norval family are the founders and initial funders, aiming to make art more accessible to both local and international visitors. Designed by DHK Architects, the remarkable buildings feature world-class galleries, a sculpture garden, an outdoor amphitheatre for concerts, and The Skotnes Restaurant and Bar, named after acclaimed South African artist Cecil Skotnes.

The restaurant overlooks the wetlands and gardens landscaped by Keith Kirsten International, but it’s the menu which really sets it apart. As my dinner companion remarked, it’s rare to eat dishes inspired by South African cuisine that are clever, sophisticated and nostalgic, without descending into cliché. Leave the boerewors for your braai at home, and feast instead on starters like grilled calamari with sweetcorn mieliepap and chakalaka, or pork belly with Parisienne gnocchi, miso butter and soet wortels. All dishes are exquisitely plated and ingredients are sourced locally from small-batch suppliers, aiming to uplift local communities.

At the helm of The Skotnes is executive chef Phil de Villiers, who previously led Primal Eatery, which was named Eat Out’s Best Steakhouse of 2017. Having lived and worked in Joburg and Pretoria for ten years, Phil remarked that he likes how adventurous Cape Town eaters are, and hopes residents, as well as visitors to our city, will enjoy his relaxed, yet stylish take on local cuisine.

Photo by Claire Gunn

And enjoy it we certainly did. For mains, my partner savoured confit duck with quince and flavour-packed umngqusho, with hanepoot jus. I had a beautifully tender free-range beef ribeye steak with bone marrow, parsley pesto, and an especially tasty amabuthu cheese and tomato braaibroodjie. The dessert we chose was listed on the menu as “Japie se Gunsteling” and it turned out to be delicious malva pudding with roasted naartjie, marmalade caramel, burnt honey and macadamia ice cream.

Afterwards, we took a stroll upstairs to the striking bar with its velvet sofas and eye-catching decor, and then popped our heads into The Homestead Art Collection exhibition to spot memorable works by Gerard Sekoto and Noria Mabasa. It is this unique mix of art, architecture, culture and cuisine that makes a visit to Norval Foundation memorable – as well as a welcome addition to our city.

For more information on Norval Foundation, phone 087 654 5900 or visit the website.