A new find on Soho’s Frith Street, Adam Simmonds’ The Test Kitchen is a lovely little haven of calm and quality slick but friendly service, gorgeous food and the happy satisfaction of watching it all come together.
The concept is kind of there in the name, the chefs come up with lots of weird and wonderful dishes that they test out, then ask for feedback on what works and what perhaps doesn’t. They then take the comments and adapt the menu accordingly, in the meantime building up a huge bank of data with which to build the ideal restaurant after the 12 month pop up is over.
I popped in for lunch and kicked off with salt-baked swede with blackberry, cocao nibs and finely grated goat’s cheese in a little heap on top. It was gorgeous, really light and perfectly salted, with the edges of the cheese heap just melting on the swede.
Next up was a dish of broad beans in a pine broth, with morels and delicate little curls of onion. I’m not normally a fan of onion but this was perfect as little bites of crunch, not too strong and not taking over anything else. The broth was gorgeous, made in a pressure cooker with onions and pine needles.
Mullet finished the feast, raw and covered in tomato granita, paper-thin slices of green strawberries, rocket foam I think (!) with batons of green tomato and slices of peeled almonds. The fish was fab, really tender, and perfect with the sharp green strawberries and bright, fresh granita.
On being persuaded by lovely GM Tom to try dessert, I went for roasted yellow peaches, raspberries and sorrel, with lovely fresh sorrel sorbet. It was as good as it looks.
The Test Kitchen is small, 23 seats around the open kitchen and you watch the chefs do their thing, and you can then chat as you eat – whether they appreciate this or not is yet to be decided but they were all so friendly and keen to answer questions that if it was really annoying, it wasn’t evident at all. True professionals!
If Adam, the man himself, is there when you go (he probably will be, he’s seriously determined to make it a resounding success) have a natter with him, he’s lovely and keen to chat about the concept.
Dishes are reasonably priced, up to about £13 so I guess if you had a huge number then the bill could rack up, but it’s not cheap, crappy food. The ingredients are seriously good on their own, and the recipes are well thought out, with every element complimenting the rest.
Go, it’s great.
PS: If you’re tagging them on Twitter the handle is @the_testkitchen. If you use @testkitchenCT accidentally, the latter get quite annoyed.. ‘We are not associated with them in any way… Please use the correct Twitter handle’
That’s me told.
The Test Kitchen
54 Frith Street, Soho
London, W1D 4SL