Trendy, laid-back by the sea

2011-03-04 10:08

Diners in Cape Town are all flocking to new eatery, The Test Kitchen, at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Trendy without being tricky, nice and laid-back the way Capetonians like it, but oh so professional. It is wowing the cognoscenti with curious flavours.

The restaurant is an open plan, very industrial-looking with no frills. Its business is eating.

Diners can watch their food being prepared by a squad of talented young chefs.

The owner, chef Luke ­Dale-Roberts was trained in England, spent many years in Europe and the Far East, and time in Australia just when the fusion thing got going.

His experience in cities like Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and Manila adds immeasurably to the elements in his cooking, bringing to his food plenty of freshness and originality.

The menu changes regularly depending on what is fresh and in season.

The lunch menu has Asian-style beef tataki, seared beef thinly sliced while still warm and briefly marinated in rice vinegar, and a wonderful Vegetarian Tempura roll with shiitake mushrooms, pickled ginger and coriander, surprisingly light and crisp, very more-ish.

The line fish the day I went there was yellowtail, beautifully done with a basil, tomato confit and a caper, olive and raisin salsa, and fresh potatoes. The yellowtail stood up beautifully to the rather dominant Mediterranean palette of the accompaniments.

Starters are about R60 and mains from R95 to R130.

In the evening they up the ante – R345 for three courses or any five courses with wine pairing go for R440 to R600.

One of the knockout starters is the beetroot mousse, slow-cooked baby beets, lemon and thyme purée, horseradish, and mixed nut crumble with fennel confit and puff pastry shards – a melange of flavours and textures to kick-start dormant taste buds.

Another option is the pan-seared lamb tongue and scallops, with peanut and garlic purée, pancetta, ginger and spring onions, accented with a bourbon and American oak velouté.

For mains try the ­wood-fired pork belly, with halva crust and soy-roasted sweet potatoes. Or the pan-seared duck breast with cashew nut and turnip purée.

Carnivores will love the innovative Chalmar beef fillet with milk stout risotto. Finish with white wine-poached pear and sorbet, chocolate fondant, liquorice mousse and cold filter coffee jelly, or pucker up with the lemon tart with nectarine and elderflower.

» The Test Kitchen, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock.
021 447 2337

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