Luke Dale-Roberts is a name synonymous with some of the best in culinary experiences in the country, and the world. His Cape Town restaurant The Test Kitchen is ranked 22nd in the 2016 world’s 50 best restaurants and selected as the best restaurant in Africa by Continent Restaurant Awards.
“The award is an incredible vote of confidence for me and my team,” Dale-Roberts says. “I do what I love, with precision and artistry, and being awarded for this validates what I do every day.”
This year has also seen Dale-Roberts and his team expand their culinary footprint to Johannesburg, where he launched ‘Luke Dale-Roberts at The Saxon’. And Cape Town has another restaurant, The Shortmarket Club; it’s a partnership between Dale-Roberts, his wife Sandalene, chef Wesley Randles and manager Simon Widdison.
Chef Wesley Randles of The Shortmarket Club
“The restaurant is unique in its design and it’s a place to relax and really lap up the feeling of luxury that surrounds you – and the delicious food of course,” says Dale-Roberts.
Guests enter the restaurant from a staircase on the first floor. In the first room is the gilded bar – ideal for after-work or pre-dinner drinks. The space has a strong vintage feel. Sandalene Dale-Roberts has incorporated military lamps above the pass at the kitchen and copper lamps in the dining area. With exposed ceilings, copper elements in the décor, the use of wood and leather, and vast banquettes forming the centerpiece of the dining area, the space is opulent. The black and deep aubergine colours could make the space dark but the two large skylights pour light into the dining area with its stained glass doors that separate it from the bar area.
The main attraction in the dining area is the wall of 30 frames filled with pinned butterflies – they’re not real but made of paper with information about The Test Kitchen.
The Dale-Roberts restaurants are known for their lunches and dinners but The Shortmarket Club is also open for breakfast and I had to experience it myself. The small but diverse breakfast menu features the likes of toast soldiers and boiled eggs and Scotch eggs – but with a twist.
Chardonnay steamed West Coast mussels with celeriac and ham hock veloute, poached oysters and fresh seaweed.
Our waitress recommended the eggs Benedict – asparagus with poached egg, miso and hazelnut hollandaise, pickled porcini puree, compressed wild mushrooms and parmesan wafer – and the Scotch egg with wild mushrooms, kale and grated truffle.
The Scotch egg was perfectly cooked; coated in sausage meat and then breaded. Simple but precise plating made it an experience for the eyes as well. The overall sense of laid-back opulence extends from the décor to the menu and each plate that comes out of the kitchen. The table was decked with simple, old-school pewter salt-and-pepper shakers and the toast was served in the kind of rack you’d find at your grandmother’s house.
Breakfast ranges from R60 to R120 with a choice of freshly squeezed juices, teas and coffees.
The Shortmarket Club is at 88 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday. Visit www.theshortmarketclub.co.za. For reservations, email [email protected]