Eating Out: Fine Dining at The Test Kitchen

With a reputation of having table bookings sold-out minutes after opening them online, The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, doesn’t disappoint. Call it the adrenalin rush of experiencing the Audi A7 against the backdrop of the luscious landscape of Cape Town, or the elite company that we were in, the excitement of enjoying a personalized menu at one of the World’s Top 50 Restaurants was incomparable to any.

Presently known as ‘The Draught Kitchen’ due to the change in season, The Test Kitchen is the brainchild of British-born chef Luke Dale-Roberts. The restaurant triggered instant fame for the culinary expert, when it opened doors in 2010.

The Test Kitchen – Open Kitchen View

Considered to be one of the most sought-after dining destinations in Cape Town, this restaurant offers unexpected surprises like roast duck with kumquat, foie gras, and barbecue meringue, to its guests. It recently bagged “Restaurant of the Year” at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.

Touted to specialize in local or regional haute cuisine, you can expect a bit of Molecular Gastronomy in the courses. A little bit about Luke’s background is reflected in his menu. It’s easy to know that he’s had experience in Asia and Europe, as the appetizers menu we tasted showcased that.

The restaurant is divided into two seating areas, the dark room, where we devoured our first set of meal, was a comfortable and intimate space.

Charting a global culinary expedition, our appetizers were originations from across the world. We downed dishes like Melon Cocktail from the USA, Lamb XO dressing from China, Tandoori Quail from India, Pork Scratching from England, Ssamjang Veg from Korea, Bo-kaap Slanget jies Nuts and Biltong from South Africa, Billionaires from Scotland and Ceviche from Peru.

The next course saw us seated in the light room, an elaborate dinner service setting. What made the whole experience even more special, was the view to the open kitchen from our table.

Catching a glimpse of the master chefs preparing our meal, the energy and exuberance of creating culinary delights was surreal. Luke often says that being a little bit different is the only constant at The Taste Kitchen. Progress and quality are the two benchmarks.

Menu for the day

The dinner menu is offered with three kind of pairings: Tea Pairing, Gourmand Wine Pairing and Iconic Wine Pairing. We opted for a mix of all three, at different stages of our meal. Our customized dinner menu was:

The Taste Kitchen Light Room Menu

Hot Smoked Trout, Buckwheat Blini, Watercress Veloute
Seasonal Mushrooms and Celeriac Extraction

Scallop, Cauliflower and Cheese, Black Garlic Salsa
Crab and Corn Risotto and Corn Foam

Beef Sweetbread, Asparagus, Peas, Morel, Porchini Hollandaise
Pig Head Salad, Pork Pie

Springbok, Beetroot, Bone Marrow, Hazelnut, Curd
Dill and Berry Eton Mess, Amsi and Lime Snow
Peaches and Lavender

Trained in Switzerland, Luke spent five years in Asia – Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines, setting up celebrated restaurants. His craving for a kitchen that allowed him complete creative freedom that showcased his talents, led to the birth of The Test Kitchen.

As this is a dinner-only restaurant, the tables get booked really early. For example, we checked the current status online, and only 3 dates are available from July through September. This means for October booking you will have to be nimble, when the slots open one-month prior in September.

If you’ve happened to visit The Test Kitchen, do share your experience with us.