It’s no secret that the word on every Capetonian’s lips at the moment is the terrible drought that has Cape Town in its grip. And with little respite in the weather and Day Zero looming, the potential impact on the local economy, specifically the hospitality industry, is devastating.

In April 2018, The Test Kitchen will introduce a reduced-water dining experience which will run exclusively for two months until end May. The Drought Kitchen – essentially a pop-up within The Test Kitchen – has had Luke Dale Roberts and his team focusing all their creative energy on coming up with solutions to the problem of using less water in the kitchen. And the results are yet another creative, and delicious, endeavour.

“I’ve had to re-evaluate how we approach what we do in the kitchen and the restaurant,” Roberts says. “From preparation to plating, service to clean-up, everything is impacted by using less water. It’s been an eye-opener, for sure,” he adds.

Reducing water usage to an absolute minimum in the kitchen has meant doing things differently, and cleverly. As well as saving grey water from air-conditioning units, using ice bucket water to mop the floors, disconnecting hoses in the scullery, fitting diffusers on taps, switching to disposable napkins and eliminating table cloths, The Test Kitchen has taken it a step further.

Roberts has designed “empty picture frames”, that will have a piece of interchangeable card on which the dish will be plated, effectively making every dish a picture. These handcrafted disposable plates will provide the perfect counterpoint for displaying each dish.

By taking away 90% of the chinaware we have effectively eliminated 90% of our water usage from the dishwasher and, along with only operating the laundry for basic essentials, we are hopeful that this will make a difference,” adds Roberts.

Those visiting The Test Kitchen can be assured that the six-course menu, adapted from the standard menu at The Test Kitchen, will be nothing short of sublime.

Dishes on the six-course menu are the 12-hour hot-smoked trout served with watercress and yoghurt snow. With the addition of yuzu caviar and blinis, it’s a flavour-packed delight. Another favourite, the sweetbreads, are served with asparagus, peas, morels and a porcini hollandaise. Sauces are kept to a minimum so that the eating experience remains refined and it doesn’t affect the handmade card plates. Other dishes diners can look forward to are springbok with beetroot, bone marrow and hazelnut – perfect for the colder months – and a delectable dessert of peaches and lavender playing beautifully in contrasting texture and flavour. And all still served with the signature flair, precision and consummate style of The Test Kitchen.

The Drought Kitchen by The Test Kitchen’s reduced-water dining experience will run from Tuesday to Saturday. The six-course menu, which also includes three appetizers, is priced at R890 per person, excluding wines. Diners can also opt for the Tea Pairing Menu, priced at R1 040 per person, the Gourmand Wine Pairing Menu, priced at R1 190 per person, or the Iconic Wine Pairing Menu, priced at R1 340 per person.

Luke Dale Roberts will also be pursuing other water-saving initiatives at The Pot Luck Club and The Shortmarket Club.

The Test Kitchen is located at Shop 105a, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. Open for dinner only from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 6.30pm-11.30pm.

For reservations, visit:

– Manley Communications

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