48 reasons why we love The Test Kitchen, no. 48 in the world

48 is a great number. It’s the smallest number with 10 divisors; it’s the atomic number for Cadmium; and the code for international direct dials to Poland. And right now, it might be our favourite numeral, given that it’s also the ranking of The Test Kitchen in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

It might sound like a high number, but that’s number 48 in the world. (Channel Jeremy Clarkson when you read that.) To give you an idea of the restaurants The Test Kitchen is rubbing shoulders with: Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck was ranked at number 47.

And having eaten at the restaurants currently ranked at numbers three (Osteria Francescana) and four (Eleven Madison Park), our team is pretty sure The Test Kitchen will be right up there with the best of them­ ­– just as soon as more of the international panel of critics have made their way there.

To commemorate the incredible achievement of being ranked at 48, we bring you as many reasons why we love our Restaurant of the Year, The Test Kitchen.

  1. The dishes are works of art.
  2. Executive chef Luke Dale-Roberts can create a landscape out of red cabbage. (Embed)
  3. Even the breadsticks are delicious.
  4. So is the Jersey milk butter.
  5. The casual atmosphere sets us at ease.
  6. The pineapple cosmopolitans, dotted with vanilla seeds, are unbelievably good.
  7. The staff know how to have a good time while still conveying absolute professionalism.
  8. They improve our vocabulary. (Every time we visit we have to google something. Chawanmushi, anyone?)
  9. Even though the dishes sound seriously weird – veal sweetbreads, almond falafel, chicken-and-sherry glaçage – everything works together beautifully.
  10. They taught us that sweetbreads are actually delicious.
  11. All hail the creator of the concrete ball crayfish. (The dish was invented by Luke after he discovered concrete bowls that could be connected to make a sphere. The bowl is filled with hot coals, cinnamon and vanilla sticks. The crayfish tail is placed directly onto the coals and the bowl is covered to make the sphere, which is placed at the table to cook while guests eat hors d’oeuvres.)
  12. Luke really rocks a blue suit.Rocking a blue suit

  13. They play hard to get. The months-long waiting list makes any visit a longed-for occasion.
  14. The wine list has a great selection of not only SA’s best vintners, but also some of our more interesting and hard-to-find wines.
  15. The restaurant looks like nothing special from the outside; but inside, it’s paradise.
  16. There are no roses and white tablecloths in sight, but it’s superlatively romantic: dark and mysterious and beautiful.
  17. The high staff-to-diner ratio means attentive service is guaranteed.
  18. Diners get to eat from interesting stone bowls, slates, petri dishes and beautiful wooden bowls.
  19. Sitting at the kitchen counter is like watching a ballet. The kitchen staff seem to dance around each other as they go about preparing each plated dish – and they manage to casually chat to diners as they go about it.
  20. The waiters are cute.
  21. They wear incredibly skinny pants.
  22. …And they make the evening fun.
  23. The super-smart sommelier, Wayve, suggests unusual wine pairings that really make the food come alive.
  24. The sleek, edgy, masculine interior allows the food to shine.test-kitchen-48-01
  25. The golden orbs dangling from the ceiling add an otherworldly touch.
  26. Their international reputation adds to their allure.
  27. They gave little ol’ Woodstock serious credibility.
  28. They love to experiment, even naming themselves after the fact.
  29. There’s something on the menu right now that includes grilled white chocolate, and we desperately want to try it.
  30. They feed us flavours we’ve never tasted, in combinations we’d never dreamed of.
  31. Telegraph writer Emma Freud reckons Luke Dale-Roberts “could trash Gordon Ramsay in a cook-off”. (Go team Luke!)
  32. It feels as if everyone there loves their job, loves food and loves preparing amazing surprises for us.
  33. …And they’re all so damn cool.
  34. There’s a champagne train. (Enough said.)Photograph: Abigail Davis
  35. There are jasmine blossoms in the restrooms.
  36. There’s one dish on the menu that looks like a fairy log.
  37. The five-course menu seems to evolve into 12 courses when you add the breads, amuse-bouche and palate cleansers.
  38. The menu changes all the time, tempting us back to try new things.
  39. They make dust look good. (How pretty is the liquorish dust on the cabbage done three ways?)
  40. You can discuss and dissect the food and then still thoroughly enjoy it.
  41. The owner and executive chef is a rock star. (See the cover of Eat Out 2014 magazine.)
  42. …And has been Eat Out’s Chef of the Year twice (In 2008 and 2011).
  43. The Test Kitchen has been SA’s Restaurant of the Year for two years in a row.
  44. Despite these accolades, they’re not all snooty and distant, and will happily joke around and explain how to use a siphon gun to create foams.
  45. They allow you to be on their daily waiting list – even if you failed to plan and tried to book just weeks in advance. (Rookie move.)
  46. Their younger sister, The Pot Luck Club, is also super cool.
  47. They recognise young talent. Head chef Ivor Jones is only 27.
  48.  We love Luke’s XO sauce. (That’s what this song is about, right?)

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