The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa in Johannesburg will reach new culinary heights with the opening of Cape Town’s The Test Kitchen’s pop-up restaurant in January. ‘Luke-Dale Roberts at The Saxon’ will bring an award-winning gourmet experience to Johannesburg in the New Year. Dale-Roberts is markedly excited about this venture: “This unique opportunity at The Saxon is a launching pad for The Test Kitchen experience in Gauteng. I can’t wait to see how Joburgers react to The Test Kitchen style of food.”
Saxon head chef Candice Philip and sous chef Wynand van Wyk will head up the team at the pop-up along with chef Ryan Cole from The Test Kitchen, while Dale-Roberts will be joining the team regularly to ensure The Test Kitchen experience remains impeccable and true to form. Candice says “The Johannesburg food scene has really grown over the last couple of years, with a lot of attention given to experimenting with diverse ingredients and flavours. Luke’s pop-up at the Saxon will give Johannesburg food lovers a complete new culinary experience and we’re sure that it’s the beginning of a greater appreciation for fine dining but still within a relaxed and unpretentious environment.”
Dale-Roberts further comments; “I’m excited about working with the stellar in-house team at The Saxon and we are very fortunate to have a highly trained kitchen and front-of-house team to collaborate with. I’ll be working closely with Candice and Ryan to refine the dishes all the time to create an unsurpassed dining experience.”
2015 was a year of staggering achievements for The Test Kitchen: winning Restaurant of the Year at the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant of the Year Awards for the fourth year running, as well as being placed 28th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and winning its Continental Restaurant Awards: Best Restaurant in Africa. In addition it was placed 44th in the Elite Traveler Top 100 Restaurants 2015 and ranked number 22 in TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveller’s Choice Awards on the list of its 25 Best Fine Dining Restaurants. In addition, sister restaurant, vibey The Pot Luck Club, also located in Woodstock, Cape Town was ranked 9th in the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.
The tasting menu at ‘Luke Dale-Roberts at The Saxon’ will be a mix of The Test Kitchen classic and current dishes as well as new bespoke dishes created for Joburg diners. “I wanted to create new dishes that will speak to the local market. I can’t wait to find out what Joburg restaurant-goers love, and then to refine the dishes that we’re serving at the pop-up,” Dale-Roberts adds. One example of a new dish is the 45-day aged prime rib. “We serve it with confit porcini mushrooms, smoked bone marrow and lapsang souchong tea jus. The smokiness and richness of the dish along with the comforting umami aspect makes it an elevated and sophisticated dish. I’m sure it will delight diners,” he says.
Fresh, seasonal ingredients are always at the core of dining at The Test Kitchen, and the menu bursts with bright flavours in dishes of pea mousse served with morel jelly, pickled walnut and truffle; seared tuna with fennel flowers and horseradish dressing; heirloom tomatoes served with toasted parmesan custard and basil; and strawberry and thyme ice cream served with poached rhubarb and orange sherbet.
Dale-Roberts’s love of Asian flavours is apparent with dishes of hot-smoked trout with Korean chilli dressing as well as aromatic coconut Thai curry of smoked marron with XO dressing and braised sushi rice. While the Iranian spiced duck with smoked pecan nut, BBQ meringue, rose and cherry jus is a sublime and delicate marriage of flavours.
Lovers of interesting cuts of meat will be delighted by the offerings of pig head with parsley apples and wild rosemary honey, lamb sweetbreads with lime puree and foie gras bourguignonne served with smoked quail.
The restaurant’s interior will also be given the signature The Test Kitchen touch, with bespoke design elements adding depth and complementing the overall dining experience. Centrepieces by ceramicist John Bauer and works by local brand Imiso as well as artworks by Mark Rautenbach and Peter Eastman whose works are displayed at The Test Kitchen will complete The Test Kitchen look and feel for the discerning guests who dine here.
‘Luke Dale-Roberts at the Saxon’ opens on 21 January 2016 and will run until end March 2016. The seven-course tasting menu is priced at R1 330 for 7-courses (which includes two appetisers) or R2 100 with wine or tea pairing. Dinner served Tuesday to Saturday. For reservations, call (011) 292 6000 or email to email@example.com