The Test Kitchen is a pop-up restaurant in Soho by Chef Adam Simmonds. Firstly, the restaurant is a Test Kitchen – hence the name. It’s not a permanent restaurant nor does it have a large menu. It is a work in progress but you will get an array of delicious and beautifully executed dishes. So, we had two visits to the restaurant, Amen made the mistake to book at 5:30pm where the restaurant is open only for the pre-theatre menu for our first visit. I suggested we go again so we have slightly more choice from the A La Carte which is available from 6:45pm.
The seating is on stools, essentially imagine a bar but with a cooking area in the middle, in full sight. I love this! It just means everyone is sitting at the “Chefs table” – the only time it would be awkward is if the cooking staff would get something wrong, but thankfully that didn’t happen. We loved the caricature art on the mirrors which are of the staff, the dishes and future ideas.
The menu is separated into Veg, Fish, Meat and Dessert. As the dishes are quite small we would advise getting 3-4 dishes each. What we had was quite similar to the pre-theatre menu with a few extra additions – for Amen, of course.
What we ordered
From the Veg we ordered the Roasted pearl barley with parsley, garlic and crispy shallots and the Heritage tomatoes Burrata. On the pre-theatre menu, we had the roasted pearl barley but with salt baked celeriac and truffle.
From the Fish Amen had the Scallop with white asparagus, Walnut, Lychee and beef fat and the Skate Wing with broccoli and crab apple. On the pre-theatre menu, he had the Crab Salad – they were kind of to swap my fish dish for the tomato burrata on our first visit.
From the Meat we ordered the Pork Belly with salt baked pineapple, sunflower seeds and turnip, the herb roasted chicken with artichoke, black garlic and charcoal and the grouse, blueberries, beetroot, coco nibs and pine.
The roasted pearl barley was definitely our favourite veg dish! It was delicious, I didn’t know what to expect but it was perfect. It was simple but tasted divine. The green was vibrant which I couldn’t stop talking about! The burrata was definitely better on the second visit. I love tomatoes so this was a perfect tasteful dish. It was beautifully presented – picture perfect.
Amen soldiered the fish section on his own. Scallops usually come really small and overpriced but there was an option for 1 or 2. He had the 2 and thought it was quite meaty and not overly seasoned, which allowed you to enjoy the actual star of the dish – the scallop. He was intrigued by the Skate wing as he’s never had it before so he went for it. It’s a white fish and it was pan fried – perfect for him. He thought the fish was fresh and tasty.
The herb roasted chicken was lovely. Yes, I know chicken is chicken, but this was succulent yet crispy. And the other parts of the dish were excellent too. I’ve never had artichoke so I had no idea what it tasted like, but this one tasted like really soft potatoes. The charcoal is real charcoal and was a different element to the dish, but it didn’t taste of much. They also poured a sauce over the dish which was delicious – I wish I remembered what it was. Amen’s Grouse was delicious. He’d never had Grouse before and he said it tasted almost like liver. He thought the cocoa nibs was a lovely touch as he never thought chocolate would go that well with meat. He really enjoyed the pork belly, and thought the baked pineapple was an excellent touch that really went with the soft succulent pork.
On our second visit we didn’t have dessert but from the pre-theatre we had the white chocolate Namaleka with lemon verbena and violet sherbet. It was a very light dish and not sweet at all. It was nice, even though I like my desserts sweet. The violet sherbet was great as it reminded me of my childhood.
We can’t wait to go back when the menu changes as we love to try new dishes – Amen more than me. But the restaurant looks promising so I don’t mind going back. We are also excited and eager for Chef Adam Simmonds to open a permanent restaurant. After you eat, you are asked to give feedback on the dishes which is awesome as it allows the chef to know what you like and what you didn’t since it is a test kitchen. The restaurant is perfect for a small meal, a casual date and pre-theatre dining. But the dishes are quite small so don’t go when you are super hungry! The service is prompt, and all the staff are friendly and very knowledgeable on the dishes.
Cuisine: Contemporary British, Modern European
Dress Code: Casual
Our Star Dish: The roasted pearl barley
Price: £35 each (excluding alcoholic drinks)
Rating: 4.7 out of 5