Review: Grub & Vine Norval serves up sophisticated bistro food in a spacious and elegant setting

Fast facts 

Restaurant name: Grub & Vine Norval

Address: The Norval Foundation, 4 Steenberg Road, Tokai

Phone number: 087 153 5244, book online via Dineplan

Opening times: Mondays, Wednesdays to Fridays 12noon to 9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 9pm, closed Tuesdays

Average price of a main course: R280, plus set menu options from R450 to R950 excluding wine

Corkage: By arrangement only

Parking situation: On-site, open and underground, free

Food type: Bistro-style – magnified

The first impression of the newly opened Grub & Vine Norval is one of spaciousness, with almost seamless indoor/outdoor flow. Imagine elegant dinners while watching the chefs in the kitchen, or long brunches and lunches on the terrace overlooking the art in the garden. It’s best for delicious dishes you’ll want more of, and extraordinary wines.



The website claims the food is bistro-style but that seems oversimplified, at this the second Grub & Vine, a concept that embraces the connection between food and wine. It joins the Bree Street restaurant which includes Culture Wine Bar and The Blue Room jazz venue; Culture Wine Bar can also be found at the newly opened Time Out Market at the V&A Waterfront. Chef patron Matt Manning is at the helm of all of these, and how he always manages to look so calm is anybody’s guess. Probably because he is surrounded by an excellent team, from the floor staff to Roxanne, his wife and business partner.

Flavours at Grub & Vine are robust to be sure, but plating and creativity elevate the dishes to, if not the border, at least the region of, what we associate with fine dining. The bistro part comes in with the generosity of portion sizes. There are various options, from à la carte and tapas, to a full six-course tasting menu and menu du jour from which you can choose two or three courses. It includes canapés and dessert is extra.

Those two or three courses can be selected from three each of starters, middle (the scallops have a surcharge) and main, and consider carefully what you order; two can easily be sufficient if you want space for dessert. However, you may surprise yourself when you end with the Blueberry Mousse Bombe with shortbread crumb, meringue shards, blackberry, and vanilla bean ice cream; even if you think you’re only going in for a taste to be polite, and have asked in advance that the kitchen not be offended if you don’t manage to eat it all – blink and you’ll see you have finished it and are contemplating licking the plate.

The canapés are beef tartare tartlet with horseradish and the most delightful little cheese croquette with sweet chilli aioli, just the thing to get you going with a glass of bubbles. The seared yellowtail starter is presented with spiced butternut and lime marmalade, with coconut and coriander dressing, which gives off Cape Malay pickled fish vibes. For a mid-course, the wild mushroom tortellini with king oyster, pickled shimeji and truffle velouté gets a kick from the inclusion of a hint of fennel. Even Jamie Oliver’s 10 favourite fennel recipes don’t match it with mushrooms, so he could learn a thing or two from Matt.

Main courses lean a little to the hearty side for summer – beef sirloin, and confit pork belly with pork fillet, honey-glazed carrots, turnip, fennel, potatoes Dauphinoise and mustard. The third choice is herb-crusted line fish with mussels, squid, curried chickpea, cauliflower, and coriander yoghurt.


Grub & Vine, along with Culture Wine Bar (which is currently popping up at Norval until April 2024), is serious about wine. Therefore, it has lots of wine – local and foreign, and it’s also why taking your own is only by arrangement. “We do however offer Norval and Wine Library members the benefit of bringing a special bottle into the restaurant to enjoy on-site,” says Roxanne Manning.

Many of the wines are available by the glass as well as bottle, and sommelier Reggis Batizani Mugari has all the time in the world to discuss what you are planning to order and make suggestions accordingly. He loves talking about wine, and selecting the perfect pour for you, so lean into that. At the bar, Eddie Nyamukuta will be shaking up a storm. Ask him how he is, and he’ll answer, “Happy!” And it shows.


This is exceptional, from the warm welcome, to the affectionate farewell with heartfelt exclamations of hoping to see each other again soon. Everyone pitches in, none of this “it’s your table, you take them their food” stuff. Which is why we can call out, in addition to Reggis and Eddie above, Nontyatyambo Kundlwana (who introduces herself as Flowers), Thumi Matyala, Prince Paluku and Arnold Mamutse, who all ensured an enjoyable, well-paced experience.


As mentioned in the opening paragraph, there’s an openness inside and out, where you’ll never feel crowded or too close to the neighbouring table. Glass walls let in the view during the day, and the terrace is the first choice for these late summer days and as we head into autumn. It’s understated sophistication, where you can feel posh but not intimidated.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here

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