Review: The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa

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While food is always quite good in South Africa, it’s absolutely spectacular at The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, South Africa. With dozens of awards and accolades under it’s roster, dining here is a wonderful and reasonably priced experience by first world standards.


This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town has recently developed a reputation as being a “foodie” destination. Indeed, it boasts some of the best restaurants in Africa. The international community has started to take notice. Checking the San Pellingrino Top 50 Restaurant List for options in South Africa, we decided to pay The Test Kitchen a visit. In 2013, The Test Kitchen was ranked at #61 out of 100 and has been awarded The San Pelligrino 2013 “One to Watch” award. After our visit, it continued to win world wide accolades including best restaurant in Africa by San Pellegrino, and one of the top restaurants in the world by Elite Traveller.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to booking the reservation until two months in advance. Even then, I was too late to secure a dinner seat. We opted for a lunch instead on the day after our arrival. The restaurant only seats 65, making it a small volume affair.

The restaurant is located in the Old Biscuit Mill area, which is a refurbished warehouse area. Our taxi driver had no idea where The Test Kitchen was, but immediately recognized “the Old Biscuit Mill”. We were also easily able to catch a private metered taxi outside the Old Biscuit Mill after our meal, without having to have the restaurant call one for us after lunch.

The Test Kitchen
The Old Biscuit Mill Grounds
The Old Biscuit Mill
The Test Kitchen Entrance

Inside the Test Kitchen:

The Test Kitchen, in the format during our visit, was a small and intimate space across many areas. The place was hip and had warm and contemporary personality. We were shown inside and offered our seats.

Inside the Test Kitchen
At the Bar – The Test Kitchen
The Kitchen powering the Test Kitchen

The Concept:

As some of you may know, MrsWT73 is not a self described foodie, whereas WT73 can’t get enough of exotic international food. Food on Lufthansa First Class is heaven for me, whereas it’s H-E- Double Hockey sticks for MrsWT73. Fortunately, the food at The Test Kitchen were approachable and innovative. The food concept is self described as “eclectic international”, making it an enjoyable meal for both of us. 

As with many other restaurants in South Africa, The Test Kitchen was fantastic value. We enjoyed a 5 course lunch, with 5 wine pairings for $69 USD per person. If you are abstaining on the wine, the 5 course lunch is approximately $47 USD (470 Rand). They also do a la carte for those with lighter appetites. 

In my humble opinion, this restaurant gets it right when compared to our other fine dining experience at The Tasting Room in Franschoek. It targets the more moderate and modern crowd at a lower price point and in a more accessible location. This was by far the best value and highest quality meal that we had on our trip. 

Today’s Lunch Menu

The Meal: A Five Course Lunch

We started off with an assortment of fresh baked breads.

Freshly Baked Breads

Our first course was home dried tomato, black sesame and aubergine puree, burnt aubergine jelly and goat cheese mouse, paired with the fantastic Sequillo White 2011. 

Home dried tomato, black sesame & aubergine puree, burnt aubergine jelly & goat cheese mouse

The second course was a pickled fish – ceviche, lightly curried dressing, bbq carrots, ras el hanout honeycomb, paired with Silverthorn Green Man 2010.

Pickled fish – ceviche, lightly curried dressing, bbq carrots, and ras el hanout honeycomb

MrsWT73, not being a fish fan, opted for an off menu dish for the second serving. She was offered this wonderful lamb shoulder with mixed greens that included snap peas, shaved cucumber and foam. This dish easily wins a most beautifully presented dish award.

Lamb shoulder with mixed greens that included snap peas, shaved cucumber and foam.

For the third course, we were presented with pork Belly – pressed parsley apples, wild rosemary infused honey, blue cheese cream and crackling, paired with Paul Cluver Riesling Dry Encounter 2012.

Pork Belly – pressed parsley apples, wild rosemary infused honey, blue cheese cream & crackling

Between course number three and four, we were presented with an off menu mint infused palette cleanser… The leaves added a sensory touch to the fish and we were encouraged to feel the texture of the plant.

The Mint Infused Palette Cleanser

For our fourth course, we enjoyed a wonderful slow cooked duck leg, mushroom and liver stuffing, assorted onions and duck liver jus, paired with Rainbow’s End Merlot 2011.

Slow cooked duck leg, mushroom and liver stuffing, assorted onions & duck liver jus

For the end, we had a choice of desserts. MrsWT73 couldn’t pass up the beautifully presented cheese dessert plate… The cheese was a selection of South African Cheese with fruit preserve, gorgonzola, mature cheddar, camembert, goats milk, paired with Bosman Dolce Primativo 2012. 


A Selection of South African Cheese with fruit preserve, gorgonzola, mature cheddar, camembert, goats milk

I went with the opposite with the more contemporary chocolate… described as Assisette of chocolate, grilled white chocolate and cinnamon sponge, carmela cremeux and guanja parfait, paired with lovely Paul Cluver Reisling NLH 2012.

A towering mound of chocolate:

Assisette of chocolate, grilled white chocolate and cinnamon sponge, carmela cremeux & guanja parfait

All of the platings were fabulous and even MrsWT73 who does not normally enjoy such exotic dining experiences throughly enjoyed the whole experience. 

Our experience at The Test Kitchen:

If you happen to be through Cape Town, I’’d recommend making time for this restaurant in your travels. You’’ll find it well worthwhile. I really enjoyed the pairing combinations between the dishes. I also enjoyed tasting some excellent wines that I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to try or enjoy. Make sure you book well in advance – our reservations were handled via email with minimal difficulty.

Editors Note:

Since our visit, The Test Kitchen has been re-branded as the The Test Kitchen Origins. The new concept features both a 3 and a 5 course menu (as opposed to just a five course option) with wine pairings. The concept is run by the same executive chef and Team behind the original The Test Kitchen.



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