With Day Zero currently scheduled for the first week of July, minimising water usage is on every Capetonian’s mind. The hospitality sector has a huge role to play in reducing water use, with restaurants and hotels around the city implementing water saving measures. The award-winning The Test Kitchen is taking it a step further by introducing a pop-up Drought Kitchen within the restaurant that will kick off in April and run for two months.

The Drought Kitchen has challenged Chef Luke Dale Roberts and his team to come up with ways to use less water in the kitchen, and the solutions are creative and delicious! “I’ve had to re-evaluate how we approach what we do in the kitchen and the restaurant,” Luke says. “From preparation to plating, service to clean-up, everything is impacted by using less water. It’s been an eye-opener, for sure,” he adds.

To start with, some of the water saving measures taken include:

  • Saving grey water from air-conditioning units
  • Using ice bucket water to mop the floors
  • Disconnecting hoses in the scullery
  • Fitting diffusers on taps
  • Switching to disposable napkins
  • Eliminating table cloths

Going even further, the restaurant has eliminated most of the crockery used by serving dishes on ‘empty picture frames’, each of which has a piece of interchangeable card that can be disposed of afterwards.

“By taking away 90% of the chinaware we have effectively eliminated 90% of our water usage from the dishwasher and, along with only operating the laundry for basic essentials, we are hopeful that this will make a difference,” adds Luke.

As for the menu, sauces have been kept to a minimum so that the eating experience remains refined and doesn’t affect the handmade card plates. Otherwise, dishes are served with the signature flair, precision and consummate style that The Test Kitchen is known for.

Dishes on the six-course menu are the 12-hour hot-smoked trout served with watercress, yoghurt snow, yuzu caviar and blinis. Sweetbreads are served with asparagus, peas, morels and a porcini hollandaise. Other dishes diners can look forward to are springbok with beetroot, bone marrow and hazelnut and a dessert of peaches and lavender.

The Drought Kitchen by The Test Kitchen’s reduced-water dining experience will run from Tuesday to Saturday. The six-course menu, which also includes three appetizers, is priced at R890 per person, excluding wines. Diners can also opt for the Tea Pairing Menu priced at R1040 per person, the Gourmand Wine Pairing Menu priced at R1190 per person or the Iconic Wine Pairing Menu priced at R1340 per person.