Seven Acts at The Test Kitchen

It was grey, wet and cold—your average Cape Town winter weather—and few things could tempt me to leave my desk. I didn’t need any coercing, however, to head out into the rain and down to Salt River’s Old Biscuit Mill, for a ‘seven-act’, or 11-course lunch at the Test Kitchen. Of course, I regret nothing of it, as I spent the afternoon savouring the best of Luke Dale-Roberts’ self proclaimed ‘circus’ of a winter dinner menu, as well as a selection of the most incredible wine pairings produced and chosen by the warmest of maverick winemakers Adi Badenhorst and Eben Sadie. Some of the highlights for me included a tomato and miso cream cheese mousse. The first time I had this at the Test Kitchen it was having stolen it off my dining companion. I confess that I may not have ordinarily chosen a dish that sounded quite so simple, because I like to choose things off a menu that I would be least likely to make at home. Once finished, however, it’s hard not to pick the plate up and lick it clean—the velvety cream cheese mousse is intense, but it’s just the right quantity to balance with the acidity of the tomato. A few roasted tomatoes have an enhanced flavour, and the plump sundried tomato, a sweetness akin to cherries or ripe berries. It’s simply a perfect dish! The foie gras, red cabbage and fig “mi-cuit”, rabbit ham, braised chestnuts and gently pickled quince is a complex and amazing dish. The foie gras is rich and silky as it should be, and the balance of flavours on the plate is near ideal, but part of what makes the dish so good is the marriage of its fulless with a crisp sweetness of Sequillo white port, which in itself is an unusual and lip-smackingly good wine. Another of the stand-out wines is the extraordinary AA Badenhorst Non Vintage ‘Funky White’, which is a sherry style wine. The closest thing to a sherry nose that I can imagine, the taste is fresh and snappy—an exhilarating surprise! While it may be tempting to divulge the minute details of every course, I don’t want to give everything away, because there’s something magical about the anticipation of what you may be offered. The ‘official’ tasting menu is an incredible journey of 13-courses including wine pairings for each dish. At R850 per person, it’s quite reasonable, considering the skill and thought that has gone into the selection. And don’t be daunted by the number of plates of food—Luke is by no means a novice when it comes to preparing a lengthy menu. By the end of it, while you believe you ought to feel like a stuffed goose, you’ll feel the same as you would have had you eaten a substantial three-course meal. The new winter menu is available for the next six weeks as of 15 June, so if you don’t already have a reservation, call 021-447-2337 to book or find out more at I’ll surely be back!