Dietary concerns? Top 10 restaurant won’t leave you wanting

A vegan with a peanut allergy, a pescatarian and two omnivores walk into a restaurant. Sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? Or a chef’s worst nightmare.

Pan seared duck breast with orange emulsion turnip and cashew purée BBQ turnip. Photo supplied.

In 2019, this scene isn’t unusual, though, and today any restaurant worth its salt (excuse the pun), is impressively adept at handling a table with a variety of dietary requirements. It might seem trivial but it makes those with specific allergies, food intolerances, self-imposed restrictions or sensitivities feel a sense of belonging in a restaurant environment. (In the past, someone who didn’t eat citrus or shellfish might not even have bothered stepping foot into a restaurant for fear of being given the side eye.)

The lengths to which South African top chefs go to be inclusive when it comes to food preferences is commendable.

A recent meal at The Test Kitchen, currently number 2 in the country, proved this from the first bite of the cauliflower tartare with sultana salsa (meat-eaters are served beef tartare), to the salt-baked celeriac enhanced by a pea-and-lemon-balm dressing. It’s strikingly obvious that the originality in technique, flavour and presentation isn’t diminished and the integrity of the food still stands firm. In addition, every single menu at The Test Kitchen is customised. Presented to each guest in a sleek white envelope, it adds that little bit of fun suspense about what’s to come.

The sleek white envelope at The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts. Photo by Justin Patrick.

The service staff don’t bat an eyelid when addressing the dietary requirements of guests, going about their work with ease and grace.

There’s certainly been a shift in attitude over the years. We’re no longer seeing chefs objecting to altering a component on a plate because it will “change the nature of the dish”. In fact, restaurants are utilising their abilities to cater for all types of dietary needs in a way that puts them ahead of the pack, while not compromising on the overall experience.

Chefs are magicians, of sorts – pulling rabbits out of hats daily. And all with the purpose of making you, the guest, happy.


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Disclaimer: Be sure to inform the restaurant of any restrictions a minimum of 24 hours in advance.

Have you been to The Test Kitchen? What has your experience with dietary requirements been like? Remember to let us know by reviewing your experience using our free app

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