12 courses and a cavalcade of culinary kicks
Claim to fame: The African continent’s best restaurant
Reason to go: A theatrical dining experience where guests flow between two distinctly different spaces in one night
To look out for: Sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka blends wine at your table to suite your palate.
This is the perfect setup for a superhero metaphor, yet we can’t find which one of them it might be. Batman? The Silver Surfer? Captain Marvel? Or Adrien Veidt? There’s something here that revolves around the restaurant’s mega-chef and his Dark Room and Light Room that makes us think about Star Wars.
Skywalker Dale Roberts, South Africa’s most lauded chef has spent the last decade wielding the country’s culinary light saber on the global food stage. His restaurant, situated in an old industrial space in downtown Woodstock, is divided into two theatrical rooms, the aforementioned Dark- and Light Rooms, open nightly for a maximum of 40 diners.
Guests start off on the Dark side where finger food is shared. Killer cocktails are key to getting you in the mood as you start the first seven courses of the night’s tasting menu. Drifting through to the Light Room, the airier yet more formal interior lifts you out of the decadent crepuscule and readies you for the remainder of your culinary journey. A secret knock and note-passing through a porthole door is how one gains access into this lustrous space. The setting is more formal, the tasting menu is plated this time. Every dish has its own identity, its own entirely different story. All are difficult to describe. The food combinations are furiously complex: you’ll find 12-hour smoked seabass, celeriac extraction, frozen horseradish and lime-compressed apple, all on one magnificent plate. And then there’s the Naartjie & Dill Snow King Crab & Trout with Lime and Yoghurt Panna Cotta. The chefs playfully bring together Atlantic king crab and local Franschhoek trout in a beautiful bowl with an ice-cold bite of herbaceous ‘snow’ and beneath, as your spoon dives through this gorgeousness, you reach a soft, smooth sensational savory panna cotta. Still conscious of the Cape’s water shortage crises, this dish is served on a disposable plate lined with a take-home print from local South African artist Shaune Rogatschnig, leaving you with a lasting memory of an unforgettable dining experience at the Southernmost tip of Africa. Desserts are impossibly inventive and precision-plated, they change constantly to reflect the four-seasons-in-one-day Cape Town climate. In the fight between good versus evil, we’re forced to tell you to succumb to the devilishly excellent wine-pairing, so unique that it’s hard to beat anywhere else in the country, you’ll be sipping on wines virtually unobtainable to most. Though Princess Leia would probably opt for The Test Kitchen’s very select hot and cold tea pairing that elevates the 12-course tasting menu experience to a whole new intergalactic level.