The journey begins in The Darkroom, an intimate space with low seating and small tables – where aperitifs are served in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere. The mood is mysterious and seductive with its low lighting and wood-clad walls.
Chef Luke Dale Roberts trained in Switzerland and England before spending five years launching restaurants in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines. His gastronomic offerings at The Test Kitchen are inspired by these regions, with the first wave of snacks aptly called Map of the World, paying homage to each of these places. Think crunchy pork scratchings with stout foam (England), lamb with XO dressing (China), and Bo-Kaap slangetjies and wagyu biltong (South Africa).
The Test Kitchen’s iconic millionaire’s shortbread bites, inspired by Luke’s time in Scotland, are moreish and rich, representing a savoury twist on the classic ‘millionaire’s shortbread” that will leave your taste buds in a dance between sweet and umami. Expect a porcini mushroom base topped with truffle jelly that’s sandwiched with a deliciously creamy duck liver parfait topped with a very thin layer of dark chocolate finished off with 24 carat gold leaf. And that’s just the beginning.
It’s this precise attention to detail on every plate that demonstrates the level of skill and artistry for which Luke and his team have become known. Just when you’ve taken the last sip of your num-num and rose-infused cocktail, the waiter signals that your time in The Darkroom has come to an end. You’re now ready to experience the next leg of the journey in The Lightroom, a more formal setting where the rest of the show unfolds.
Highlights include the TTK lobster salad served in a porcelain shell reminiscent of a real seashell, poached lobster with calamansi caviar and a generous spoonful of coconut ice and a drizzle of nam pla dressing. The light and delicate beginning to the meal steadily gathers momentum with Luke’s interpretation of bibimbap – a traditional Korean rice dish that’s served with kimchi vegetables done three ways.
Meat-eaters will enjoy the beef tartare with its interesting presentation: hidden under a lattice-like Yorkshire tuile that’s crispy and crunchy. The accompanying red-wine-and-onion dressing adds a level of depth and intensity. Desserts are a feast for the eyes and brilliantly balanced in flavour. The grape and rhubarb trifle with elderflower, rose and mascarpone has a gentle quality, slowly easing you towards the finale of the meal.
You can’t leave the table without nibbling on a few mini TTK gummy bears and a fun and playful petit four.
The drinks menu is extensive, featuring many unusual wines made by boutique South African producers. The expertly curated collection is crafted and overseen by sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka, who also makes wine under his own label named Kumusha.
The Test Kitchen has made a name for itself not just by virtue of its gastronomic offerings from the kitchen but also because of its service. The waiters are professional, knowledgeable and have the finesse and proficiency required of a top-end dining establishment. Every guest’s needs are met with a sense of genuine hospitality, and it’s the personable interactions that are remembered.
The restaurant seats 40 guests in an intimate, unintimidating interior where the atmosphere and energy are generated from its beating heart – the open kitchen, infusing a warm buzz that provides comfort in a classy setting.
Special occasions and celebrations like anniversaries and birthdays.
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