Wine Dine and Play: The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen / logo /

Layers Upon Layers Of ‘Slap Your Face’ Eclectic Flavor
Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa
Cuisine Style: Eclectic Latin and African
Average Price: $$$$
Overall Rating: 5/5
Article updated: June 16, 2018
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

The Test Kitchen Zomato score:

The Test Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

The Test Kitchen Executive Chefs:
Luke Dale-Roberts
The Test Kitchen / Luke Dale-Roberts /

Ivor Jones
The Test Kitchen / Chef /

Wayve Kolevsohn

Old or new, sous vide or pressure cooking together with home-curing, smoking or wood-fire barbecuing. This is just the cusp or tip of the Iceberg for Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, rated the #1 place to eat in Cape Town, #61 on the San Pellegrino top 100 restaurants in the world list (2013 and #63 in 2017 at the time of this article update),  and ranks #2 on my list of my top 100's behind Alinea in Chicago, and Tetsuya's in Sydney, Australia. Situated in a newly refurbished late 19th-century Biscuit Mill complex adjacent to other restaurants, and shops, The Test Kitchen, opening in 2010 led the way for neighborhood rejuvenation and collaboration in the arts, festivals, and helps reintroduce the culture of Cape Town that had been long forgotten. Now the area thrives with markets, wine boutiques, and modern art festivals making the Biscuit Mill and The Test Kitchen a vibrant hotspot for locals and internationals alike. Truly and food and wine connoisseur's dream spot to spend an afternoon. In 2016 they renovated and re-opened with its Dark/LightRoom concept. 

Luke Dale-Roberts is British-born, trained in Switzerland and England before heading to Asia for five years, launching several restaurants in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and the Philippines. Since coming to Cape Town in 2006, Luke has proven and risen in world-class standing with a string of awards and accolades. After a four year tour as the executive chef of La Colombe Restaurant at the Constantia Uitsig Estate, Acqua Panna rated it the best restaurant in Africa and Middle East 2010 and 12th place in the overall San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the same year. Most recently, at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2013, The Test Kitchen made a massive leap to No. 61 on the list, climbing up 13 places from no.74 in 2012. More significantly, The Test Kitchen was singled out as the winner of the “Cacao Barry One to Watch Award” in 2013, indicating momentum that may well secure a place in the Top 50 in the years to come.

As a tourist and aspiring chef visiting South Africa for the first time, it was an absolutely fantastic day, between activities, and then eating at The Test Kitchen for dinner, but for the country, it was a sad day, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela had just passed away early the same morning. I was driving from Cape Town to Gansbaai and L’Agulhas that morning when I heard the news all over the radio. When I dined that evening I could see the somber look on some of the staff and the guests about the news. I had gone Shark Cage Diving that morning, and it was a thrill, let alone an adrenaline rush to be that close to one of nature’s most ferocious predators. The second adrenaline rush would come as I tasted the food at The Test Kitchen.

Nelson Mandela
The Test Kitchen / Nelson Mandela /

The Test kitchen, located in the complex of the Old Biscuit Mill in the Woodstock District of Cape Town didn’t seem like much from the outside but is built into the old mill, with brick walls and pipes hanging from the ceiling. The Mill did have parking, with a fee per hour, which included security, with overflow parking further down the street.

I arrived a little early; my four-hour drive back from L’Agulhas, where I went after the shark dive to see the southernmost point on the African continent. The staff had no problems with seating me early, and they gave me front row seat at the bar facing a large and long open kitchen, next to the salad, dessert and appetizer prep area. Further to my right was the main expediting line and beyond that the entrée cook stations. Behind me away from the kitchen and to my right, two separate dining rooms, rustic in sight, but displaced by modern art sculpted and multi-colored globed lights, with paintings from local artists, and at the bar a bookshelf attached to the brick filled with wine, and a rolling red ladder to reach the top shelves. The bar seating was, of course, present with my menu, as I had requested the tasting Gourmand Menu several months before when I had made my reservation.

After being seated, I sipped on a pomegranate mojito recommended as one of the better starting cocktails offered from the bar. It was actually very tasty. I was presented with a very unique amuse bouche, with a fantastic display on what appeared to be a piece of granite, shaped into a plate, with three small bites to entice my senses. The first was a potato ring topped with a smoke mackerel gremolata. The second item was an Asian mint crème fraîche beetroot on a herbed green Perilla (Shiso) leaf. The third item was nicknamed the billionaire, a liver parfait infused into shortbread with chocolate truffle, black truffle, salt, and gold dust sitting on top of a block of false gold. Absolutely brilliant presentation The Amuse is of course known as the introduction to the chef’s style of cooking, and a bridge or gateway into what your meal would feature. Well, based on this, I couldn’t wait.

One of the best parts about where I was sitting was, of course, the view of the kitchen. The average patron could sit and enjoy the action of the kitchen and get a taste of what it is really like to present a course to you. For me, it was the action and the education. You learn something new from your trade every day, same with food service. I enjoyed seeing the cooks and junior chefs in action, and you never know, I might pick up a thing or two while I watch and enjoy a meal. I had this same style of experience when I dined at one of Denver Colorado’s top-rated restaurants called Rioja. As the cooks prepared my first course on the gourmand menu along with the other client’s food, I enjoyed an assortment of freshly baked pieces of bread consisting of a roll, ciabatta, and a pretzel with some butter folded into a cheesecloth.

The gourmand tasting menu also came with a choice of wine pairings to which I gladly agreed. I had been in Cape Town for four days now and had only consumed South African wines at the restaurants I ate at, versus other selections. I do have to say, that the wine in South Africa is excellent, and the following morning after this meal, I would be visiting Stellenbosch. I had already driven through Constantia’s Wine route a few days before. The first course was presented. A pickled fish ceviche, in a lightly curried dressing, with julienned bbq carrots, crème fraîche, and the Moroccan spice Ras el Hanout blended in a honeycomb puree.  The spice blend added a rich and vibrant flavored aroma to the fish, which reminded me of a light Indian curry-style seafood dish. The dish was finished with a garnish of greens and fried carrot sticks. The wine is served with this dish was a 2010 bubbly from the Silverthorn Winery called The Green Man. The winemakers' notes expressed fresh aromas of green apple and acacia blossom backed up by subtle hints of minerality and whiffs of freshly baked brioche. Well balanced with an elegant structure, fine mousse which imparts a gentle explosion of bubbles on the palate and a long finish.

The Test Kitchen / ceviche /
The Test Kitchen /Pickled fish ceviche
The second course was grilled scallops and fine bean, with a tofu misozuke, (a.k.a. vegan cheese, vegan butter, or vegan foie gras) braised scallop and Mirin vinaigrette, miso on toast plus braised and raw shiitake mushrooms. The scallop was seared to perfection, with a nice crunch from the beans, and the misozuke tasting similar to hummus. The course was served with a glass of Raats Original unoaked Chenin Blanc 2013, Stellenbosch, and a harmony of flavor with the scallop. According to the winemaker, there is a distinctive yellow apple, pineapple, alongside with notes of green melon and lime. Beautifully structured on the palate, bursting with fresh yellow and white fruit flavors. The wine finishes subtly, yet distinct with great minerality and citrus flavors. The Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2013 is yet a classical example of this wine and shows the balance between power and elegance.

The Test Kitchen / scallops /
The Test Kitchen / Grilled scallops
The next course was extremely interesting as it was a cross between dessert and seafood (sweet and savory). It was rich, tarty, and subtle all at the same time. The dish was a New York “style” cheesecake with shaved trout roe, infused with saffron, snow cream, and a parmesan truffle with lemon jelly. I tell you one thing, chef Luke, and the crew was really starting to impress me. The course was paired with a wine from Hermanus called the Newton Johnson Vineyard Resonance 2012 which was a blend of 84% Sauvignon Blanc and 16% Semillon. The winemaker says the nose is pure, with flinty flavors and lime citrus. Complex flavors of spice and nougat to balance the mineral characters and further aging potential.

The Test Kitchen / trout cheesecake /
The Test Kitchen / Shaved trout cheesecake
God could my night get any better. I was chatting with a few of the cooks and junior chefs working on the other side of the bar in front of me, asking them basic questions and just getting a feel for things. Most of them were graduates of local Cape Town and South African Culinary Institutes like The Institute of Culinary Arts, the leading school in South Africa. There was one junior chef who was trained in the United States and was American, living here in Cape Town. I was only about to start my fourth course of nine, which was an halva foie gras butter, with plum wine, pulled biltong, star anise, halva croquette, a cinnamon poached plum, and mixed nuts with seed garnie. The dish was served with a very fruity, late harvest ‘vine dried’ 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Quoin Rock Vineyards. The vineyard has two locations, one in the Cape Agulhas, Overberg Wine Region, which was near to where I was earlier in the day after the shark cage dive, visiting the southernmost point on the South African continent. The winemaker notes prominent and complex nose of dried pineapple, mango and honey, and a fascinating and refreshing palate of dried fruits, quinces, almonds and cream. The wine is in great harmony and concludes with a tangy mouth-filling sweetness. The second area where most of the dried vine grapes are harvested is Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch.

Course number five was known as the pork “smiley” and beautiful presentation first showed to me while I was enjoying the previous; A pigs head. It was presented with parsley pressed apples, wild rosemary-infused honey, blue cheese cream velouté, and pork crackling with crispy ciabatta and pancetta. I thought this dish would have been perfect with a nice bold cabernet but the sommelier appeared as in other courses to be going in a different direction and served it with a 2013 Dry Encounter Riesling from Paul Cluver Winery based in the Overberg Elgin Valley, 70 km (44 miles) east of Cape Town. The winemaker notes that the color is pale, with a beautiful green apple tint. The nose shows ripe green apple, apple blossom, beeswax and fynbos honey notes. Crisp and clean – lemon sorbet-like more palate weight than one normally would expect. There is a great interplay between the naturally retained residual sugar and the acidity. Generally regarded as restrained, it displays typical Riesling ‘nervousness’.
The Test Kitchen / pork /
The Test Kitchen / Pork “smiley”
Five courses down with four more to go. Before it was time to enjoy the Intermezzo labeled on the menu only as “green,” the sixth course was placed in front of me to cook. A good size concrete ball was put to my left, the lid lifted, and the smoky aroma had me thirsting for more. The dish would be fire baked in this concrete as the ‘green’ course came out. Served in a small ramekin glass dish was minced apple, with a miso apple sorbet and a garnish of Shiso grass leaves, seen on the Amuse bouche platter at the start of the meal. I was then instructed by the server to rub my hands with the leaves, letting off a nice basil and mint aroma.

The sixth course which was in that concrete ball cooking next to me while I enjoyed the Intermezzo, was taken away and plated. The course was a Mozambique Langoustine in the same family as Norwegian Lobsters, crawdads, or prawns, name varies depending on what part of the world you are from. The aroma that the dish was being cooked with were Madagascan spices, served with smoked water chestnuts, cinnamon, lemon puree, spring onions, and a bone sauce. The dish was served with a non-vintage Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine from Nicolas Van Der Merwe. A 100% Chardonnay, that the winemaker notes lists as a  full-bodied with apple and nut flavors, and has a fine, delicate mousse, showing a lengthy, fruity finish.

The Test Kitchen / Langoustine /
The Test Kitchen/langoustine Presentation
The seventh course was titled the “slow and fast” duck, which was a duck liver stuffing, with three medallion cuts of duck, seared medium-rare, with a savory duck jus coulis, and pickled onions with a wild mushroom sitting atop a serving of sweet potato. This dish was also the introduction to the first red wine tasting of the night, a 2011 full-bodied Merlot from the Rainbow’s End Winery near Stellenbosch. A 100 % Merlot (Italian clone 12 and French clone 348). That the winemaker says is a deep red color with a bright purple rim. Exotic mulberries and ripe plum on the nose. Serious structure and elegant fruit with hints of mint crisp chocolate and prune. Ripe juicy smooth tannins.

The eighth course was also known as the pre-dessert course of a Jerusalem Artichoke parfait stuffed with an espresso coffee granite, topped with grated local macadamia nuts, lemon and orange zest.

The final course and actual desserts were served with a glass of 2009 Muscat de Frontignan (100%) from Vondeling Winery called Sweet Carolyn. According to the winemaker, it is a multi-layered wine with a light amber color. The nose shows soft peach aromas, fresh pineapple, and ripe apricot. These heady aromas are supported by floral orange blossom, jasmine and fynbos honey. The mouth-watering sweetness is cut by tangy acidity to provide a lingering aftertaste.

The dish was called the lemon meringue egg, consisting of a vanilla cream anglaise, lemon yolk center, topped with a meringue shard and Cachaça which is a lime and Brazilian Rum. With the dessert, I also ordered a Coffee Americano, and normally since it’s just coffee, I usually will mention it in passing with my other reviews, but I loved the setup and style of the mug. As the night was drawing to a close I began chatting with the head chef Ivor and with the owner and Executive chef Roberts. Both were really down to earth and fun to talk with. Luke had obviously been expecting me from the reservation list since he started asking me about the food I prepared when working in Afghanistan at the Consulate. As we chatted, the petit fours came out in the same arranging display as the Amuse course, on the same stone platter, which consisted of a raspberry pastry, a fermented caramel, and a honeycomb and chocolate pastry, sprinkled with gold dust sitting on the same false goldstone. 
The Test Kitchen / petit fours /
The Test Kitchen / Petit fours
Please see these guidelines for Tipping in Restaurants and on following proper etiquette, customs, cultures, and avoiding assumptions when you dine out.

The Wine Regulatory for these tasting is represented by SAWIS: South African Wine Industry Information & Systems NPC   

Other Noteworthy Eclectic Cuisine Articles and Restaurants similar to The Test Kitchen:
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Dunes Beach Restaurant & Bar Eclectic grill and seafood menu in Hout Bay, South Africa
Edison Food + Drink Lab Eclectic & innovative gastropub using molecular gastronomy in Tampa, Florida
Enigma Restaurant Turkish culinary journey with an eclectic European twist In Dubai, UAE
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See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

Other South African restaurants and articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Seasonal South African cuisine bistro
Seafood and sushi with panorama views 
Cape Point, South Africa
Top 10 Worlds Best Banquet of pastries & sandwiches
Cape Town

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Final notes, review basics, observations and more pictures:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give The Test Kitchen a 5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they not only exceeded my expectations and were far above the average dining experience of most restaurants, but they surpassed outstanding and were extraordinary.
Scores are detailed in the factor chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings for The Test Kitchen
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Food quality
Plate presentation
Customer service
Alcohol and other beverages
Total regular points awarded
Total percentage Before Bonus


“Wow” factor BONUS
Total bonus percentage


Total percentage with a bonus for the final star rating


Stars Awarded (see chart below)
             0 - 5

**A full break down and explanation of the observations and point disbursement is available in the linked article above. To receive a detailed copy of your score, feel free to contact me at any time and I will provide it to you.**


Overall Star Rating:
5 of 5 Stars: 
95% Rating with a 2 point “wow” bonus
An Extraordinary Dining Experience
Wine List:
The Test Kitchen Wine rating:
4 of 10
Old World selections: 

New World selections: 
South Africa
Corkage fee’s:
The Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, South African Standard is R80.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Conservative dining
Cuisine style:
African, French, Latin
Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Farm to Fork, Gluten-Free, Grass Fed, Local, Low Carb, Organic, Pescatarian, Sustainable, Vegetarian Options
Not Accepted
Dress code:
Business casual attire, or Conservative attire
Child policy:

The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Place for foodies, Modern, Trendy, Hotspot, Good for special occasions, Classy, Upscale, and a Neighborhood Gem.
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Private lot
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
The Test Kitchen is a non-smoking restaurant
Patio or terrace:


Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)

**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

South African Rand (ZAR)
United States Dollar (USD)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)

 Alcohol prices:

R400 Rand

The Test Kitchen:

The Old Biscuit Mill
Shop 104 A
375 Albert Rd
Cape Town 7915
South Africa

Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+27 21 447 2337
Online reservations
Website Contact:
Serving hours:
South African Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC + 2:00)
Dinner: Tue-Sat
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Social Media 
Accolades for 
The Test Kitchen:
Facebook link                

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…

Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Contemporary-Authentic Mexican Cuisine 
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
A Re: Start a business at “Little High Eatery” 
Christchurch, New Zealand

Other Test Kitchen Pictures:
The Test Kitchen / biscuit mill /
The Test Kitchen / Biscuit Mill Courtyard 
The Test Kitchen / menu /
The Test Kitchen / Seating arrangement
The Test Kitchen / intermezzo /
The Test Kitchen / Green intermezzo 
The Test Kitchen / pastry station /
The Test Kitchen / Junior chef's prepare desserts
The Test Kitchen / pastry chef /
The Test Kitchen / Pastry Chef

The Test Kitchen / dessert /
The Test Kitchen / Desserts
The Test Kitchen / coffee /
The Test Kitchen / Coffee in a clay cup presentation
The Test Kitchen / Bartenders /
The Test Kitchen / The bartenders
The Test Kitchen / Chef Igor /
The Test Kitchen / Chef Igor and I at the meal's end

The Test Kitchen / logo /

The Test Kitchen / Biscuit Mill /
The Test Kitchen / The Old Biscuit Mill

The Test Kitchen / bread /
The Test Kitchen / Bread

The Test Kitchen / langoustine /
The Test Kitchen / Langoustine

The Test Kitchen / meringue egg /
The Test Kitchen / Meringue egg

The Test Kitchen / small bites /
The Test Kitchen / Small Bites

The Test Kitchen / Foie Gras /
The Test Kitchen / Foie gras

The Test Kitchen / duck /
The Test Kitchen / Fast and slow duck dish

The Test Kitchen / Artichoke /
The Test Kitchen / Jerusalem Artichoke 

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)

Who is John Galt?


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