Born in rural Great Britain, chef Luke Dale-Roberts got education in Switzerland and England, and later moved to the opposite corner of the world, where he founded restaurants along Singapur, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines. In 2006 he arrived at Cape Town, where he worked as executive chef for several dining locations, including La Combe, located in the Constantia Uitsig wineyard, which received accolades such as the Best Acqua Panna Restaurant in Africa and the Middle East, and obtained the 12th position in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants by Pellegrino in 2010.
“My time in Europe taught me how to cook, my time in Asia expanded my horizons.”
His extensive experience and a search for individual creative freedom and innovation led Dale-Roberts to open The Test Kitchen, located in Woodstock, Cape Town. This became South Africa’s first fine dining locale and a pioneer in the search of new gastronomic experiences. Every single dish served reflects this philosophy with its flavours and ingredients.
The experience at The Test Kitchen begins submerged in light and shadow, in an intimate space with low seats, small tables and an industrial interior design where the open kitchen allows us to witness as the cooking action takes place. The menu goes back to the origins of superb food and focuses on the raw materials: Dale-Roberts only uses local sources, meaning dishes are prepared with seasonal ingredients. The kitchen combines English and French techniques with Southafrican elements, cooks bring out the nuances of each ingredient and invite guests to relish in each particular taste.
The Map of the World is an entrée dish that mixes all of Dale-Roberts’ influences, showcasing each country where he has resided. Some of the dishes served at the feast include pork crisps with strong foam, lamb with XO dressing, and some Southafrican delicacies. Wine pairing has been curated by Tinashe Nyamudoka, and includes local wine boutiques, which make the selection unique: you won’t find many of these wines anywhere else in the world. The adventure continues with different concoctions that reflect Dale-Roberts’ vision as a chef, with the utmost attention to detail which creates a connection between him, the ambience, the scents, the dish, adn the diner. for us to continue on with this journey, however, we must change locations.
“What we do at The Test Kitchen is a little different. That is our one constant.”
This culinary voyage continues in The Lightroom, where an unexpected spectacle carries on. The space is illuminated in an ethereal way, light vanishes through the walls and sumptuous tablecloths reflect on the shiny bowls where lobster salads and kimchi rice preparations are served. Each dish takes us on its own special journey: we visit Seoul through flavour, without ever leaving CapeTown. Veal tartare dressed with red wine comes next, an intense flavour explosion full of nuance. Our flavourful trip comes to an end with a balanced dessert and a wine glass of your preference.
TheTest Kitchen is a must when staying in Cape Town, specially for those who enjoy fine dining. In here, techniques and creativity take center stage and break all expectations. Luke Dale-Roberts takes his vision to excellency with each dish and improves constantly. Don’t hesitate to visit on multiple occasions, as the menu is ever-changing and relies on the seasonal flavours.