11 mind-boggling courses at Test Kitchen, Cape Town’s hottest new restaurant

Test Kitchen is located in
a somewhat industrial district of Cape Town

Tonight in Cape Town, living a TRAVELIFE, The Boss took me out to dinner at a cutting-edge new restaurant he’d been hankering to try in South Africa. It’s run by South Africa’s most famous chef and restaurant reservations are extremely difficult to come by.

But The Boss had made the reservations about two or three months ago, and that was how we got the best table in the house on a Saturday night in the best restaurant in Cape Town.

The bread and the menu at Test Kitchen

The evening started out very nicely with champagne — yes, more champagne. We met up very briefly with a couple living in Cape Town, in the lovely gardens of the iconic Mount Nelson Hotel right in the center of the city.

Test Kitchen is very casual in vibe,
and their wines are all young and stored in cabinets on top


As usual, we were terribly pressed for time, so we could only sit with them for about 30 minutes before heading out to dinner. Throughout this trip, we’ve been meeting people we know in South Africa for about 15 minutes to 30 minutes each, as we seem to have no time at all on this trip.

The beautiful Mount Nelson Hotel.
Perhaps South Africa’s most famous hotel institution.

We met someone for 15 minutes in Joburg, and another person for about 20 minutes in Franschhoek, which is about an hour from Cape Town.

This time, though, having drinks with this couple in Cape Town, it was a big shame as The Boss and I both liked them and had a very animated time discussing travel and experiences in different countries.

*    *    *

From the December 2012 – January 2013 issue onwards
and online via the Travelife Blog 

*    *    *

At just before 7, The Boss began signaling me that it was time to go. The restaurant we were headed for is in a new trendy commercial/ warehouse district about 20 minutes away from the Mount Nelson, and he was afraid that we were going to lose our reservation if we appeared late.

Otherwise, we would have stayed on talking into the night with champagne and all.

Test Kitchen is under pressure to make it fast
as a top restaurant locally and internationally.
It’s owner-chef used to run La Colombe, 

South Africa’s most famous restaurant,
until he broke off and decided to go on his own.

We’re eating at La Colombe tomorrow, by the way.

So after hurried goodbyes, we jumped into a taxi and headed across town to this hot new restaurant. I can’t tell you too many details as it’s appearing in an upcoming issue of Travelife Magazine, but it’s called Test Kitchen and it’s run by Luke Dale Roberts, arguably South Africa’s most famous chef.

We made it in time and we got the best table, which was a table for two right by the kitchen. The Boss was really excited, and I was quite excited too, since he’d told me about it and talked up the merits of the chef.


There are only three course choices at Test Kitchen: a three-course meal, a five-course meal, and an 11-course degustation meal.

We chose to have the grand 11-course menu and then to share a wine pairing for one person between us. The first time we’d done a wine pairing in South Africa, it had been for a seven-course meal and we’d drank so much. So since then, we’ve decided to just split one wine pairing between us, and it’s been working fine.

The meal was the most cutting-edge we’ve had so far in South Africa — and that’s a pretty big statement considering we’ve eaten or are eating in almost all of South Africa’s top restaurants. Almost all our meals have been very enjoyable, but some have been more cutting-edge than others.

Our 11-course meal at Test Kitchen was very enjoyable. 11 courses took us over three hours to finish, and in-between we watched the action in the open kitchen, took lots of photos and observed what people in other tables were doing.

That’s the open kitchen set-up for Test Kitchen.
We were right next to the action.

Across us was a couple seated sideways almost the entire time so that they faced the kitchen instead of each other. They hardly talked.

I said: “What do you think’s the story there?

Without hesitation, The Boss replied, sure as usual of everything in his world: “They’ve been together for a long time so they’ve run out of things to talk about.

It certainly looked that way. And on our way back to the hotel, I remembered this earlier conversation and said: “Hey, we’ve been together in South Africa for eight days now and I’m not too tired of you yet.”

An interesting set of appetizers


We had a running joke about who would tire of whom first, and what was the time frame we were talking about: 8 minutes, 8 hours, or 8 days. The Boss is on the hyper side and he has a fairly short attention span, whereas I have a long attention span but only for things I like.

Put a boring thing or person in front of me, and I shut down in about two minutes. But we’ve been laughing and I think we’re enjoying much of the trip even if he’ll never really admit this to me directly.

Not one to miss a beat, The Boss said: “More importantly, you haven’t asked me whether I’m tired of you yet…”

I retorted: “No need to ask a question I know the answer to already.”

Just another day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.