Pigging out at Africa’s top restaurant

2014-05-04 15:00

Africa’s best restaurant is in Cape Town where its signature “pork smiley”?–?a pig’s head?–?is served with partly pressed apple, wild rosemary-infused honey, blue cheese cream and pork crackling.

This week it was business as usual at The Test Kitchen, which was crowned the continent’s best restaurant at a glittering Michelin-starred bash in London last Sunday.

The Test Kitchen was also named the 48th-best restaurant in the world in the prestigious survey, which polls the palates of 800 restaurant experts worldwide.

City Press visited Africa’s top kitchen on Wednesday, watching as 18 chefs bustled to prepare lunch in the open-plan eatery.

One chef was smearing molten chocolate over honeycomb as another squeezed limes into a shiny steel bowl.

At a wooden counter flanking the kitchen, manager Nicholas Compton was bent over papers, taking stock. “Yes, what an honour, of course,” said Compton. His preferred dish? The pork smiley. “It’s traditional and just extremely good and creamy,” he says.

The pork smiley is a glazed pig's head and forms part of the restaurant's nine-course gourmand menu?–?which costs R1?250 paired with wine and R1?000 with tea.

Compton said the pork heads were obtained from a local meat supplier.

Recent celebrity patrons at the restaurant include Benoni-born Hollywood star Charlize Theron and her actor boyfriend, Sean Penn, and US eco-activist Al Gore.

Actor Orlando Bloom stopped in for a succulent pork head last year while filming the movie, Zulu.

Restaurant owner Luke Dale-Roberts describes himself as a “nonconformist, something which has got me into a lot of trouble in the past. My vision for The Test Kitchen was to be original in every aspect of the experience.”

Dale-Roberts cooked at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony and returned home on Thursday.

Top honours at the 2014 London foodie ceremony went to René Redzepi for his restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Rounding out the top five were El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain; Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy; Eleven Madison Park in New York and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London.

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