Cape Town, South Africa
What makes it unique: The first fine dining restaurant to open in Cape Town’s gentrifying Woodstock, The Test Kitchen kicked off an artistic boom. With food based on popular global dishes with South African ingredients and twists, Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s restaurant has two intimate dining areas – one “dark”, one “light”.
About the chef: Luke Dale-Roberts was born in rural England and had an active youth, fishing and spending hours in nature. Too fidgety to enjoy a regimented school day, he excelled at cooking school as a teen. Work in the UK, Bali, South Korea and Japan opened his eyes to a world of technique and ingredients, which Dale-Roberts adopts at the restaurant – it encapsulates his discipline in delivering exquisite sauces and bold flavours.
What’s the vibe? The cosy dark room is a cluster of comfy chairs around low tables – think luxe ski cabin. The main dining area is a semi-industrial setting – think screed floors, exposed brick and metal, laid-back, friendly staff. The energy from the open-plan kitchen fizzes into the room.
Typical dishes: The experience starts with distinctive small bites from around the world like ceviche and roti paired with cocktails in the quiet dark room. More classic-mod fare is served in the buzzy light room – like eiland (local oryx) carpaccio, local kingklip smoked with curry leaves and scallops with a Cape Malay sabayon.
Other ventures: Dale-Roberts has The Pot Luck Club on the same premises – a sharing plate concept with dizzying, panoramic views of Cape Town (go there for Sunday brunch), the more classic Short Market Club in town and avant-garde pop-ups in Johannesburg, Mauritius and elsewhere.