Named after local artist Cecil Skotnes, Skotnes Restaurant is a beautiful contemporary restaurant located at an art gallery in picturesque Steenberg. The food philosophy of this new restaurant is to make use of local ingredients in a modern and exciting way, described by the waiter as indigenous South African food with a modern plating style.
Cost: R180 average main meal
Parking: available on the premises
Best for: a relaxed yet upmarket lunch or dinner, or sundowners at the upstairs bar area
Star ratings: Food and drinks: 4; Service: 4; Ambience: 5
Among the starters are options of soup, duck biltong salad, calamari with sweet corn, mielie pap and chakalaka, and heirloom beetroot with almond milk espuma and smoked grapes. Unfortunately the almond espuma dominates the plate and your palate, masking the other flavours of the dish. The trendy jaffle has an entire section devoted to it. These crowd-pleasers are each served with tomato smoor and sambal. There’s one filled with Cape Malay braised brisket and peach chutney, which makes for the perfect gourmet toasted sandwich of tender savoury meat complemented by sweet chutney. Other fillings include spinach, butternut and feta, and there’s also a jaffle version of a croque monsieur. (Word to the wise: the jaffles are mysteriously only available on the menu during the week.)
The bobotie, made with succulent slow-cooked lamb shoulder, doesn’t disappoint. Served alongside is the fluffiest coconut-scented rice, as well as a deliciously sweet and sour homemade chutney. Comfortingly familiar yet excitingly different, it’s up there as one of the most delicious bobotie dishes I have had. The corn risotto, on the other hand, falls a little short and doesn’t quite deliver on sweetcorn flavour. Side dishes include fire-roasted sweet potatoes with feta and spring onions. The charred edges of the sweet potatoes add a wonderfully smoky element to the sweet flesh and creamy feta cheese. The triple-cooked potato chips seasoned with braai salt have a lovely crisp texture but can do with a lot more seasoning.
Desserts include banana bread paired with granadilla glass and banana ice cream, a chocolate lamington with smoked chocolate ice cream, and a lightly brûléed lemon tart served with Cremora tart sorbet and raspberries. The balance of tartness and sweetness in the lemon tart makes for the perfect ending to a filling meal.
Along with the bill comes a complimentary selection of friandise: a frozen milk tart, a homemade bounty bar, a beetroot macaron and an After Eight truffle. Each one of the confections was not only beautiful, but also tasted even better than it looked. I really take my hat off to the pastry chef who created those sweets; they were perfection!
The menu has a selection of red and white wines available, as well as bubbly. The signature house wines are blended and bottled especially for the restaurant. Ask the waiter for a sample taste of the house wines before you choose and they will happily oblige. They also offer a selection of classic cocktails as well as hot teas and coffees.
On arrival you’re welcomed by a very bubbly hostess, who sets the tone for the wonderful service. The staff is attentive and very knowledgeable about the gallery and artists featured in the gallery. My waiter struggled to tell me anything about the chef, but had good knowledge of the menu and components of each dish.
As you enter the space, the first thing you notice is the hand-woven light fixture and the beautiful green upholstered chairs. The space is bright and open, with all the glass walls giving you a full view of the lush green surrounds as well as the outdoor art sculptures. Be prepared: the glass walls are great for the view, but can be very blinding when the sun is out. All in all, the restaurant space is an extension of the gallery and is certainly beautiful.
Skotnes currently has a winter special running. Pay R185 for two courses or R215 for three courses. If you join as a member of the Norval Foundation, you receive 10% off all dishes on the menu.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy here.