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#The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts - Restaurant in Cape Town - Eat Out

Critic's review

Local and international food lovers alike flock to this gem, often after a month-long wait to get a table – and what an exceptional meal awaits them. It’s no surprise that this celebrated eatery by chef Luke Dale-Roberts, the very deserving third-time winner of Restaurant of the Year, is now featured on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Incorporating South African flavours and some serious Asian flair, every dish is technically precise, totally original and beautiful to look at. More importantly, every mouthful, created under the watchful eye of head chef Ivor Jones, is delicious. The grilled scallop with miso and shiitake is brimming with expertly layered, clean Asian flavours – a beautifully balanced and well thought-out delight. A creation of ‘foie gras with four trees’ charms with flavours of oak, pine, chestnut and maple. The seared springbok is an innovative dish, with a turnip milk stencil in the form of a tree and a splash of fermented red cabbage. Every course shines with its own identity and outstanding quality.

An extensive wine list with a great selection of local wines. Sommelier Wayve Kolevsohn furnishes professional service and knowledgeable recommendations.


Flawless, professional and slick, with smartly turned out staff members gliding quietly between the tables.


A perfect blend of edge and elegance. Seated in this workshop of a culinary master, you might feel like you’re in New York or Copenhagen. It’s been said before, but Luke has put Cape Town on the map.

Comments by the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards judges 

“Luke is a genius chef who excites and challenges the palates of his diners through flavour, ingredients, innovation and attitude. Every year it gets better and better.” – Abigail Donnelly

  • Sheer in-your-face virtuosity, gutsy innovation and flavour. Luke Dale-Roberts’s dishes are experimental, exciting and conceptual. For this year’s judges, The Test Kitchen is the best combination of fine dining, venue, wine and theatre in the country. The casual, industrial-style setting belies the calibre of the cooking. No one can compete with Luke’s thinking, flavours and artful presentation. A micro universe is offered on every plate, so it’s difficult to choose highlights, but among them are Luke’s XO sauce, café au lait beef, maple-braised shabu shabu; roasted bone marrow; langoustine and smoked quail; clam and green tea pasta; veal tongue and mussel pie; pig’s head and blue cheese; and plum-cured foie gras. (Eat Out magazine 2014)

Linda Scarborough


Words like experimental, inventive, thrilling and daring don’t even begin to describe eating at The Test Kitchen. Every dish shines brilliantly, from conception to execution, on your palate and in your memory. Executive chef Luke Dale-Roberts, who was named One to Watch by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013 (The Test Kitchen is at no. 53) is virtuosic with his flavours, techniques, treatments and artful presentation. Choose either three courses from the ever-evolving menu (also offered for vegetarians – ask them to omit the gelatine if you’re strict), a five-course discovery, or go for the ten-course gourmand tasting menu. While eminently conceptual, the food follows through on flavour – and then some. The plates of ‘entertainments’ between the courses will amaze and amuse you too. Fairy-sized logs, croquettes and swirls arrive on stone squares and you might be served the now-famous savoury millionaire shortbread with gold salt, mirrored later in a sweet dessert. Luke’s Asian influence interplays with classic French techniques in dishes like cabbage three ways (one of them Korean-style kimchi) with horseradish cream and a flash of liquorice dust; smoked beef fillet with gorgonzola cream, miso-cured quail yolks and polenta parmesan tuille; and a sensational dessert combining passion-fruit curd, brûlée bananas, brandy snaps and mango sorbet that sings on your tongue. Unforgettable ingredients will seduce you out of your comfort zone, such as pig’s head and blue cheese, roasted bone marrow, veal tongue and mussel pie. Ultimately, describing The Test Kitchen’s food is futile. You have to eat there to fully experience the awe.


A world class wine list. Some very unusual wine pairings show off the innovative food. Best you surrender your taste buds to the expert sommelier, Wave. The cocktails are also praiseworthy, especially the pineapple cosmo punctuated with vanilla beans.

Young, beautiful and highly trained waiters have a lot to live up to, and do. The staff-to-guest ratio is probably higher than you’ll find anywhere else.


Walking through the unassuming doors, you will find yourself immersed in a stylishly edgy environment. The gleaming steel of the open-plan kitchen is complemented by industrial-inspired light fittings, wood and neutral hues. World travellers, food lovers and adventure seekers wait months for a table. Fittingly, a dramatic atmosphere prevails.


Did we mention that you need to book ahead? Make a reservation right now. (Linda Scarborough, September 2013)

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