Monday, 24 September 2018

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN

If you ever going to visit Cape Town, don't forget to include a trip to the Old Biscuit Mill - vibrant, warm-hearted little area in the heart of Woodstock, one of the up and coming suburbs that, in recent years, has become home to a creative community of innovative designers, artists, photographers and connoisseurs of fine taste and décor. The Mill is home to day and night markets, dynamic office space, a range of workshops and designer stores, delicious farm stalls, decadent restaurants as well as an inspiring line-up of festivals and productions.


It is such a fascinating place to be.  Every corner you turn, you most certainly will discover some new ideas and inspirations, feel the vibe of creativity hanging in the air, to find beautiful pieces made out of ceramic, textiles, glass or metal.  I always come back to it and quite often end up buying some jewellery or a scarf or a beautiful ceramic bowl.

Once your appetite for creativity has been satisfied, think what you can do to pleasure your taste buds.  And don’t you worry, you don’t need to go far as the Mill is bursting with cafes, restaurants and coffee hangouts.

Amongst the highly regarded places to eat, the two which I strongly recommend are The Taste Kitchen and its his humble cousin The Pot Luck Club.  

The Taste Kitchen which was opened in 2010, is owned and run by the British born head chef Luke Dale-Roberts, one of the most celebrated chefs who cooks his most creative dished in a distinctive contemporary space.

The Test Kitchen”, as its name implies, affords Luke the opportunity for maximum innovation as a chef and the dishes are a pure reflection of his creativity with flavours and ingredients.

During our fist trip to the Old Biscuit Mill we were not lucky enough to score a table at this establishment. Due to its huge popularity, this place gets booked for months in advance.  So the next year, the moment we booked our plane tickets to South Africa, while still in Sydney we went on-line and made a lunch reservation.  And we were not disappointed.

As we stepped inside the restaurant, we were greeted by the floor manager who kindly offered us a table in a quieter part of the restaurant.  On our way to the table I looked around to get a feeling of the place.  The space itself is a fusion of industrial rust softened by urban/Asian-inspired décor—textured paper globes hang from the ceiling, piles of bespoke crockery are neatly packed onto crimson shelves and beaten metal tables juxtaposed along leather covered couches make up the intimate restaurant. At its heart is the open kitchen; wrapped around the perimeter is the ‘kitchen bar’, here guests can dine off the â la carte menu while watching the carousel of professional chefs create culinary magic.

The lunch menu at The TasteKitchen had three choices:  a-la carte, a 5-course lunch and a vegetarian lunch menu.  We chose a-la carte one. 

The first thing that arrived on the table was a trio of deliciously smelled, in-house baked bread rolls with home churned butter carefully placed inside a muslin cloth and oven baked flour dust.

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
A trio of breads

For a starter, I choose Grilled Scallop (grilled scallop, fine bean, tofu miso suke, braised scallop dressing, miso on toast, braised shitake, raw shitake) while my husband settled for Pickled Fish (ceviche, lightly curried dressing, bbq carrots, ras el hanout honeycomb).

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Pickled Fish
THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Grilled Scallop
My main was Autumn Lamb (pan seared lamb loin, slow roasted lamb shanks, lamb sweetbreads, bbq broccoli puree, courgette and caper emulsion, lamb jus).  And since my husband absolutely loves eating duck, there were no surprises here.  He ordered Confit Duck (confit duck leg, mushroom and liver stuffing, assorted onions, truffle and foie gras egg, duck liver jus).

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Confit of Duck

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Autumn Lamb

As for dessert, my choice fell on Carob (carob mousse, roast banana butter, meringue, rum foam, coffee and tanariva cremeux) while my husband ordered Apple (apple crumble, elderflower jelly, sour cream, signing nettle granita, streudel).

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Apple Crumble

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Carob dessert

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Enjoying the dessert

While we were enjoying a glass of champagne, a carton with two ceramic eggs was placed on the table in front of us.  Inside were pastel balls of sorbet, a fitting end to a light summer’s lunch.
THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Sorbet served in porcelain egg cups

THE TEST KITCHEN, CAPE TOWN
Sorbet

The food absolutely blew us away.  Every dish was cooked to perfection; the match of flavours was superb and looked like an art-work on the plate.

The staff was deeply knowledgeable, very friendly and knows exactly how to put their patrons at ease and let them enjoy the experience from the beginning to end.

We had an amazing culinary adventure and I would recommend anyone who is planning a trip to Cape Town to experience it.  A word of warning, don’t attempt to go there without booking and you might need to book a few months in advance.  But I promise, you will not be disappointed.

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