Our occasional (and cherished) meals at Cape Town’s fine restaurants feel like delicious flings, sensuous one night stands we indulge in together.
Fyn was an incredibly decadent one-nighter that made us gasp with surprise and delight. Our betrayal of good sense that night was so brazen, we laughed out loud as we devoured the divine audaciousness of it all.
Our latest fling, one night with the Test Kitchen, was a more sultry and seductive affair that made us purr with sweet gentle ecstasy … even if we were with friends.
We started with a glass of Silverthorn’s The Genie, a bubbly that is 100% shiraz, a lingering kiss. Not fizzy and flirty like your regular (pinot and chardonnay) bubbles, this fizz signalled serious intentions from the first sip.
The TTK Canapé, two absolutely dazzling bites, was a delicious tease. It set the standard for the night, giving us a hint of a full orchestra of flavours and textures that disappeared in seconds before you could say: Millionaire’s shortbread, chicken livers and chocolate …
After that, courses came and went, always with a dizzying list of ingredients. Each course was described with care as it was delivered with a wine chosen as the perfect fit, but … so many words … a distraction from the deliciousness with its Mmms and its Aaahs.
Often the perfect fit wine-wise was about the wild and heady attraction of opposites.
Seared scallop with yuzu and carrot and ginger dashi (a broth so intense it made Michelle want to cry) served with a dry Muscat called Raised by Wolves. That’s right, a dry muscat, who has ever heard of such a thing.
Saffron linguini with octopus and feta in a mussel broth (that Dale declared she wanted to bathe in) served with a Restless River Ava Marie, a delicate chardonnay (imagine such a thing).
The quail breast with coffee liver jus, Amaretto chantilly and almond butter was delicious beyond words, and paired perfectly with the Loggerenberg Breton Cab Franc.
Linefish, scallop and langoustine cannelloni with tomato and galangal salsa with cashew and ginger was sublime.
It came with a Mariette Pinot Blanc, which is made from the occasional bunches of ‘albino’ white grapes that appear on a pinot noir vine.
It felt like we were drinking in a moment in time, with every ingredient, each little vignette (many delivered by Tinashe, the sommelier, pictured above) having been tailormade for that moment and for us.
It was a very smooth and steady seduction until the quick seared springbok with a potjie reduction and liver cream felt a little too heavy after so much subtlety.
This sudden unwelcome escalation into heavy petting from a slow and sexy seduction was short-lived, thankfully, with the cured crème fraiche with dill ice cream and blackberry granita resuming the gentle rhythm.
The service throughout was very slick and attentive. Nothing was too much to ask, which was put to the test by one of us, who is recovering from an illness and under doctor’s orders that deny almost all ingredients that deliver pleasure.
Each course was preceded by a little private foreplay between the chef and the Special One, an exchange of brief whispers and then a special plate was delivered. Every course delighted! I have never experienced such consideration and grace about special dietary requirements.
Luke Dale-Roberts, the chef-patron himself, visited the table and seemed genuinely interested in our feedback.
A less pleasant part of these little one-night stands we like to indulge in is the bill, which tends to be outrageous, and so it was at the Test Kitchen. Still, we have no regrets.
This delicious and decadent one night stand was a story written for us and by us, and will not, cannot, be repeated, and not just because the Test Kitchen is closing its doors forever after 11 years this week.