SA's Top Restaurant gets Reinvented
Since the Test Kitchen opened in 2010, it has been ranked as South Africa's leading restaurant and has made top listings all around the world. From 2012 to 2016, it was named Restaurant of the Year by Eat Out. Bookings are hard to come by and it has fast become a must-see culinary destination on the South African map. Now, with a clever redesign, it has been reinvented to provide an unmatched dining experience that has everyone talking. The new design plays on the dualism between darkness and light and the result is more magical than anyone could have imagined.
According to Luke Dale-Roberts, they had come to a junction. "It had been 6 years since we opened The Test Kitchen. The restaurant originally opened as a project to see how far I could take my food and it became a very busy restaurant serving 60-65 guests lunch and dinner 5 days a week. I wanted to bring it back to what it was originally meant to be. I wanted to refocus and reset the parameters of what we are doing.”Patrons will now enjoy a dual dining experience that transitions from the Dark Room to the Light Room. To create this, Luke worked very closely with architect and designer Maurice Paliaga, and his wife Sandalene who designed and made all the furniture and curated all the soft furnishings, tableware, linen and carpets.
Luke comments further; "My team and I can spend the whole day creating. I told them that we can only be the best that we can be if we analyse everything that we do. If your job is to peel onions or sweet potatoes then think about how you can peel them differently. And if everyone does that, if everyone takes responsibility for their own creativity, then we can grow."The Dark Room is a luxuriously dark space. This is where guests huddle together, engage with one another and share plates of beautiful finger food. It is here that diners indulge in cocktails and the first 7 courses of the tasting menu. It is a mysteriously atmospheric place designed in such a way that guests feel the distinct change of pace from the outside world. It is here that you want to lower your voice, breathe deeply and focus on food and conversation. It is this darkened space that creates a soft landing for the diner in preparation for the transition into the Light Room. The Light Room is airier and poised and more formal. For the first time there are tablecloths on the tables that create a sense of occasion. Rose Geranium infused water is served with rose petal ice cubes upon entering to create a division between the edgier Dark Room and the light floral freshness of the Light Room. It is here that guests will enjoy the remainder of the beautifully plated tasting menu in a more formal setting. We interviewed Sandalene Dale-Roberts about the redesign: thetestkitchen.co.za