The (Test) Kitchen

24 Dec

Woodstock is such an area of contradiction for me.  For all the trendy boutique coffee and craft places that lure the Constantia yummy mummies by the SUVfull, you are still likely to sit sipping your exquisite blend overlooking the next door scrap metal shop junk yard.  Which is part of the charm I suppose.  Still, it never ceases to amaze me that there are such amazing places dotted in between so many crumbling facades.   Two shiny jewels in particular, although on opposite ends of the culinary scale, filled me with delight this month.

The Test KitchenThe first was The Test Kitchen, Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ shiny fine-dining experience situated at the Old Biscuit Mill.   After not managing to get a booking for my birthday in September (they are booked up way more than a mere three weeks in advance) we booked then and there for December (a convenient wedding anniversary provided enough excuse).   After so much anticipation we were bound to be let down, except that we weren’t.   Seared Duck with fois gras, kumquat and turnip pureePear and Butternut semifreddoAlthough we opted for the meeker “3-Course Dinner” option (as opposed to 5 or 10 courses with wine pairings), when you count up the to-die-for breads, the amuse-bouche, the palate cleanser and the chef’s treat after dessert, it is impossible to feel anything but spoilt, especially when each dish is such a work of art, and each mouthful such a unique pleasure.  For starters I had the tuna with red cabbage three ways, apple dressing with horseradish emulsion, followed by the seared duck with kumquats, turnip purée and jasmine consommé (and fois gras, but I don’t eat that on principle). Dessert was a poached mini pear with a sweet and salty butternut semifreddo which was delicious, but in my opinion was surpassed by the bite of “Billionaire’s shortbread” we were treated to with the bill (which is best signed with closed eyes).

My second delight was finally getting to go to The Kitchen where my husband goes with his colleagues pretty much every single Friday for lunch.  The Kitchen - insideSince it is not open on weekends, a fortunate day of leave was my opportunity.  This kitchen is Karen’s Dudley’s brighter, yummier version of home cooking.  There is no table reservation here, and once you help yourself to a knife and fork count yourself lucky to score a table on the sunny pavement outside. The Kitchen - salad We opted for the “1-plate” salad selection which gets you five generous salads of your choice from the display (no point listing them as they are apparently different every time) and for a little extra add a sausage, or falafel, or whatever else on its way fresh out of the oven to your plate.  Everything is bursting with colour and flavour and although you feel so full afterwards, you feel so good!  I tried to recreate one of these salads with only moderate success this weekend – there must be some magic involved to make them so delicious…

Both eateries are famous, are jammed packed with happy patrons and serve delicious food.  Besides that they couldn’t be more different but it just goes to show that variety is the spice of life, and long may Woodstock’s charm attract those who create such jewels.

The Test Kitchen: Shop 104 A, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town

The Test Kitchen - outside

The Kitchen: 111 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.

The Kitchen - outside


One Response to “The (Test) Kitchen”

  1. Anne December 25, 2012 at 3:17 am #

    What a yummy surprise to read this early on Christmas morning! You have transported me away from the leg of lamb cooking overnight in the oven to a world where food is not only effortless, but beautiful to look at and delicious to eat!

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