I’ve been meaning to go to The Test Kitchen for a while, having been to and loved Luke Dale-Roberts’ other joint Pot Luck Club, and we finally got around to it last month for my Cracker choice. I was pretty fired up for the experience, having missed my first booking there (I got sent abroad for work stuff), and given that we had to book two months in advance. TL;DR: amazing, but also amazingly expensive.
We went for the Discovery menu. The Gourmand also looked great, but we’ve gone off of long tasting menus: you get taste fatigue by the end. The flavours were fantastic and by and large the combinations of them were too. My only complaint is that some dishes had a few too many flavours fighting for attention. The presentation of every dish was exquisite: beautifully crafted and plated, although I could have done with a few less smears (ahem). The portion size was well judged: we all felt pretty full by the end of the meal, but not stuffed to bursting: something that tasting menus often get wrong.
The staff were friendly and knowledgable but lacked warmth, and the atmosphere was kind of similar. The experience felt professional and high-end, but with a dash of pretentiousness. Kind of how I feel about the Biscuit Mill in general: not quite my kind of space.
One that’s important to mention is the price. Yowzer, it’s not cheap! If you asked me if The Test Kitchen was good value for money, I think I’d err slightly on the side of not. You do get fantastic food, but for me it wasn’t the leagues ahead of other great places that you’d expect given the large difference in price. Does it deserve its top spot in restaurant lists? Based purely on the food: probably yes. Based on the experience as a whole: probably not.
All in all: stunning food, but I won’t be going back in a rush. The credit card needs to recover a bit. I might head upstairs to Pot Luck Club instead.