Chef Luke Dale-Roberts named his Cape Town restaurant aptly. The fusion menus he creates are constantly evolving; he states his equal desires to produce different, progressive food of notable quality and to both surprise and delight his guests with how he has achieved it. His innovations intrigue: diners make bookings months in advance to ensure that they are able to try out his newest tastes and textures.
Having trained at Baur Au Lac Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland before sharpening his skills in various locations throughout Asia Dale-Roberts already had a host of awards to his name from his time as Executive Chef at La Colombe. Winning the Prudential Eat Out Restaurant of the Year in 2008 and 2009 (as well as Chef of the Year in 2008), La Colombe – with Dale-Roberts at the helm – also took 12th place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2010.
That year then saw Dale-Roberts open up The Test Kitchen in Woodstock. Its relaxed, rustic dining area is set up with views of its expansive open-plan kitchen; patrons can immerse themselves in the chefs’ experience before sampling their hard work. The food is flavoursome and interesting: fresh combinations of international ingredients are given the same level of attention to detail in their beautiful presentation as they are during their conception. A wild mushroom and duck liver chawanmushi, served with morel glazed sweetbreads, onions and burnt thyme foam is balanced on a delicate glass lid and fig, with fig leaf ice cream, is carefully scattered into a recessed wooden dish.
A five course and an à la carte lunch menu sits alongside evening tasting menus that are expertly paired with The Test Kitchen’s wine and tea list; most of the wines and champagne are from South Africa, with just a few bottles handpicked from elsewhere around the world.
Already at number 28 in the list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Dale-Robert’s focused insistence on producing memorable cuisine should ensure that The Test Kitchen only continues to impress.