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Test Kitchen Typical Test Kitchen fare – but it'll be different each time you go: Rock Oyster, Oscietra, Caviar, Cucumber, Kiwi

The Test Kitchen
54 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SL
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick
www.thetestkitchen.uk

If you ever wanted to be a guinea pig, now would be the time. Instead of being poked and prodded in a lab, you can feed and give feedback to Chef Adam Simmonds at his new pop-up in Soho. I was more than happy to oblige!

Chef Adam Simmonds
Chef Adam Simmonds

After 30 years in the biz, numerous awards, Michelin stars and AA rosettes, Simmonds is ready to go solo in London. The pop-up is a way to test his menu ideas on the public before opening a permanent site in Marylebone in 2018.

A long counter with stools is all that separates kitchen and patrons. Guests are invited to watch and ask questions, rather like interactive art. I found myself wanting to stir the pot but the interaction didn’t go that far.

The menu is divided into veg, fish, meat and dessert. My guest and I shared 2 of each. The food is gorgeous; each plate designed for the eyes as well as taste and texture. There is however quite a disparity in portion size. A lovely combination of broad beans, girolles, onion and pine broth (£7.50) was little more than an amuse-bouche whereas a sumptuous risotto of pearl barley, cauliflower Romanesque and truffle (£7) was ample.

Smoked eel jelly, Granny Smith, veal tongue and parsley (£8.50) was a heavenly combination but again, much too small. I wanted a vat of it! Smokey, tart, smooth, chewy, fresh, creamy…the gamut. Even better was cured red mullet, green tomatoes, rocket foam, dill oil and green tomato granita (£13). Never have green tomatoes tasted better. The fish was delicate, meaty and just the right side of raw. Odds are 10 to 1 this dish makes it to the permanent menu along with veal sweetbreads. With lardo, girolles, peas and lemon (£12) this was my dish of the day. Cooked perfectly, sweet, salty, sour and umami blended beautifully without a bitter note.

Lamb, black garlic, anchovy, aubergine and fermented tomato (£13.50) was a lovely contrast. A much bolder, though perhaps less surprising combination of flavours. Excellent with a glass of Mencia, Lalama (£13.50). From the district of Ribeira Sacra (sacred shore) in Galicia, this was an elegant, light and balanced wine with cherry and spice. We also sampled a glass of classic Côtes du Rhône (£11.50) and 2 lovely whites. A smooth, buttery California Chardonnay (£9) and a peachy, tart, full-on Sancerre (£12.50). In general, the wine list is varied, interesting and notable for its lack of ostentation. I will look forward to an expanded version in Marylebone.

Matcha tea custard, poached English cherries and red wine syrup (£8.50) and yellow peach, sorrel and raspberry (£8) were things of beauty. I enjoyed the flavour combinations, but both peaches and cherries lacked intensity and failed to pack a knockout punch.

I’m excited to see the results of The Test Kitchen and will happily volunteer to be a guinea pig for Chef Simmonds any time. Or perhaps just a pig!

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Test Kitchen interior

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