Restaurant design: SALON embraces European flair and culinary story-telling

Luke is well known for his predecessors, which include The Pot Luck Club and The Test Kitchen Fledgelings in Cape Town and The Shortmarket Club in Johannesburg which all won Eat Out stars at the 2022 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards.

Luke says: “From the start, I wanted the feel of this new restaurant to draw on the concept of a traditional European salon. It’s created a space that is as much about the food and drinks as the people around you.”

The striking interiors at the restaurant (situated at the Woodstock Biscuit Mill’s Silo Building) were conceived by interior designer Maurice Paliaga. The concept of the space was to juxtapose contemporary elements with textures and tones that highlight and pay homage to the concept of a traditional salon as well as the heritage of the building.

Guests are greeted at SALON through a sparkling golden portal, a bold and modern entrance to a pared-back and traditional space featuring Victorian-style floors and marble-topped bistro tables that exude Parisian flare. To make a space that gives an encompassing feel was a task for Maurice, working with the natural grid-like bones of the historical Silo Building. To soften the square dimensions of the room, he added golden domes and Art-Deco paintings, complimented with Venetian plasterwork and vintage-style filament lamps, creating a textural and warm experience for visitors.


“Luke also felt it was important that SALON was broken up into various areas, and so our plan created a general seating area backed by an elegant bar and banquettes, while intimate dining spaces feature just behind a series of arches,” explains Paliaga, who has created spaces for thoughtful conversation and edible adventure.

The SALON menu marks something of a return to the heady days of Luke’s seminal restaurant, The Test Kitchen.

“The ‘Dark Room’ experience was, for me, the high point of The Test Kitchen at the time, so I decided to emulate that here at SALON,” says Dale Roberts. “On the Journey menu, I’ve taken each country that I’ve worked in and created a signature dish from that country’s culinary heritage. I really wanted this menu to be small, focused, and interactive. I want people to come along on a voyage that really shows my evolution and influences as a chef.”


The Journey menu takes guests to each country that Luke has worked in and showcases his evolution as a chef and his various influences along the way. Part of that journey, he says, has been building teams of talented people, and working alongside Dale Roberts in creating the menu was Carla Schulze, Head Development Chef.


The Journey menu is priced at R1100 per person, with a condensed version of four courses – The Explorer – available at R550 per person. These menus are also available as a pairing menu with dishes matched to one of the small-batch wines, beers and sake.

This article first appeared in VISI.

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