The previous location of Five Hundred at The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg will be the site of The Test Kitchen’s first pop-up restaurant, with chef Luke Dale-Roberts brining his Cape Town restaurant’s award-winning culinary experience to the city of gold just in time for the beginning of 2016.
Luke has been very busy of late: The Test Kitchen was awarded Restaurant of the Year for the fourth year running at the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards and was named number 28 in the world at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants earlier in 2015, and Luke has this week opened Naturalis, a new restaurant concept alongside his other eateries in Woodstock.
But the chef is raring to go and is extremely excited about his new Gauteng venture: “This unique opportunity at The Saxon is a launching pad for The Test Kitchen experience in Gauteng. I can’t wait to see how Joburgers react to The Test Kitchen style of food.”
Saxon head chef Candice Philip and sous chef Wynand van Wyk will head up the team at the pop-up, along with chef Ryan Cole from The Test Kitchen, while Luke will be joining the team regularly to ensure The Test Kitchen experience remains on par. Says Luke about his new Joburg team, “I’m excited about working with the stellar in-house team at The Saxon, and we are very fortunate to have a highly trained kitchen and front-of-house team to collaborate with. I’ll be working closely with Candice and Ryan to refine the dishes all the time to create an unsurpassed dining experience.”
As for the food, the tasting menu will involve a mix of The Test Kitchen’s classic and current dishes, as well as new tailored dishes created for Joburg diners. Luke explains, “I wanted to create new dishes that will speak to the local market. I can’t wait to find out what Joburg restaurant-goers love, and then to refine the dishes that we’re serving at the pop-up. A new dish that diners can look forward to trying is the smoky umami 45-day aged prime rib served with confit porcini mushrooms, smoked bone marrow and lapsang souchong tea jus.
Other seasonal plates from the existing restaurant’s menu include pea mousse served with morel jelly, pickled walnut and truffle; seared tuna with fennel flowers and horseradish dressing; heirloom tomatoes served with toasted parmesan custard and basil; and strawberry and thyme ice cream served with poached rhubarb and orange sherbet. Luke’s love of Asian flavours shines in dishes of hot-smoked trout with Korean chilli dressing as well as aromatic coconut Thai curry of smoked marron with XO dressing and braised sushi rice. Meat-lovers can also look forward to offerings of pig’s head with parsley apples and wild rosemary honey, lamb sweetbreads with lime purée, and foie gras bourguignonne served with smoked quail.
Luke Dale-Roberts at The Saxon opens on 21 January 2016 and will run until the end of March 2016. The seven-course tasting menu will be priced at R1 330 for seven courses (which includes two appetisers), or R2 100 with a wine or tea pairing. Dinner will be served from Tuesday to Saturday. To book your spot, call (011) 292 6000 or send an email to table reservations.