The Test Kitchen


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This restaurant needs little introduction, but for those who’ve never heard of it, here are a few quick facts:
– Owned by Luke Dale-Roberts, one of South Africa’s most celebrated chefs
– The top offering in his stable of restaurants. The others are The Pot Luck Club, Luke Dale-Roberts x Saxon and The Shortmarket Club
– Currently number 63 in The Worlds Best Restaurants

Having made the booking months ago (because it’s literally that difficult to get a booking) I had put the date in the back of my mind but I was reminded of it quickly as I planned my week as I needed to make arrangements with the au pair to look after our son.

So on Tuesday evening we (hubby and myself) headed out for our dinner experience. The restaurant is located in the Old Biscuit Mill in the suburb of Woodstock in Cape Town; we live in suburbia so we left early as it was raining and we were worried about traffic.

On arrival we were shown to our table in The Dark Room. This is the first experience of your dining extravaganza and diners spend about 45min to 1 hour here. We were handed a map and informed that our canapés, of which they are 7, are from different countries in the world and will take us on a food journey. Each mouthful of food was just delicious and the plate from South Africa definitely sparked some memories of our childhood for both of us. The canapés were complimented by the choice of cocktails; out of a list of 5 you can choose 2 as part of your menu price. We both started with the TTK Gin & Tonic which is made specially for them and was refreshing and light.

After we’d completed our canapé journey around the world we were escorted to The Light Room. It was quite a shock, visually, to come from a dark space into the sharp brightness of this room but once our eyes adjusted I was able to start taking in the details. The room was a lot smaller than I had expected and I loved the open kitchen were you could watch the chefs at work. Apparently Luke does spend time at each restaurant and is often seen donning his chef whites in the kitchen.

Our “main meal” was so amazing. Each dish was so cleverly prepared, the flavours worked so well together and I certainly tasted foods that I would never have eaten normally. For example my husband had the lamb sweetbreads (pancreas) which I would never normally have ordered or even been willing to taste, but they had treated the produce so well that it was just delicious!
My husband did the wine pairing, but as I was driving I just stuck to the amazing and super tasty lemongrass infused water.
A highlight for me was when the sommelier blended the one wine at our table from his ‘bicycle trolley’! Apparently that’s the only dish on The Test Kitchen menu where the wine came first and a dish was created to match the wine.

When eating small courses like this, one might expect to be left hungry, however, we’ve learnt from past experience that this is not the case and we were once again surprised at just how full and completely satisfied we were at the end of the meal.

The Test Kitchen changes their menu seasonally which means that you can visit more than once, in a different season, and you will get a totally different experience. Menu pricing is, I feel, not overly expensive for your standard menu. You can choose to add the tea pairing to your experience which is great for either the designated driver or someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, or 1 of 2 wine pairing options. The more exclusive option, I feel, is maybe a little too much for what you get, but when you consider the prices in US Dollar or British Pound, it doesn’t seem bad after all.

For those of you wanting to include a meal at The Test Kitchen as part of your next Southern Africa trip, please get in touch with us ASAP as bookings open up in 3 month groupings and when they do open the fill up very fast! They do take a deposit (currently R500.00 per person) to secure your space; that deposit is taken off your total bill at the end of your dining experience.

In closing I want to say that I had a wonderful experience at The Test Kitchen! I think it was a combination of hubby and myself having a good laugh and a fun evening out and the joy of tasting such wonderful food. Would I go back? I most certainly would!

Click here to read more about where to stay in Cape Town.