On Saturday evening The Test Kitchen closed its doors for a six-week renovation, aimed at improving its ranking on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. The restaurant currently is 22nd Best in the World.
With the renovation, a number of changes will follow, I was informed by PR consultant Ian Manley:
# Only 45 patrons will be accommodated per sitting in future
# The restaurant will only open for Dinner
# The Tasting Menu pricing is likely to remain similar.
# ‘Decor is very hush at the moment‘, writes Ian Manley
# Bookings will only be taken on a month – by – month basis, removing the ‘stigma’ of the restaurant of one only being able to book a table six months later, which was the case in the past. (I was able to obtain bookings at the six World’s 50 Best Restaurants in New York and London for a time frame of less than three weeks).
# A Brandy Trolley will offer complimentary South African Brandy to patrons, by Sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka.
A chef who used to work at The Test Kitchen had been told by former colleagues that the restaurant is aiming for the Top 3 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. Ian Manley could not confirm this when I put it to him.
I offered my feedback about the World’s 50 Best Restaurants I had eaten at in London and New York last month to The Test Kitchen via Ian Manley, partly in jest, which he chose to ignore. My suggestions would be the following:
# Loosen up on the deposit payment when receiving bookings. Not one of the six World’s 50 Best Restaurants in New York and London took credit card details nor a deposit.
# Remove the threat to charge for no shows. I was ill in London, and slept through my reservation for Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. I called the next day, explained the reason, and was offered an alternative booking date at the end of my trip, with no demand for a no-show payment. In fact, the incident was completely forgotten by the time I arrived ten days later, when I apologized once again. In general, the top restaurants demonstrated extreme flexibility when I changed the number of persons booked in the New York restaurants, and once again there was no penalty for making the changes.
# Smarten up the waiter look – trousers and waistcoats as a minimum!
# Tablecloths are mandatory.
# Print the menu on good quality paper, and personalize the experience on it.
# Ensure that lighting is conducive to good quality photography at night – Marble and the former five hundred at The Saxon have/had lights over each table, ideal for taking photographs.
# Focus on our country’s food heritage. The London restaurants in particular impressed with their proudly-British cuisine, especially Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. While dining at this restaurant, I was told by its head chef Johnny Glass that The Test Kitchen owner Chef Luke Dale-Roberts had worked in their kitchen for a week last year, when The Test Kitchen was already ranked 28th Best! I was very impressed by this, and even more so that there had been no PR spin about it!
The new improved The Test Kitchen will re-open on 10 October.
The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts, The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock, Cape Town. Tel (021) 447-2337 www.thetestkitchen.co.za. Twitter: @TestKitchenCT Instagram: @TheTestKitchen
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein