The Pot Luck Club

Luke Dale-Roberts’ name has become synonymous with the fine dining scene of South Africa. He is probably most well known for his tasting menu restaurant, The Test Kitchen, which ranked 28th in the 2016th edition of The World 50 Bests. With only 4 days in Cape Town, I made it my mission to visit the restaurant.

Sadly, The Test Kitchen was closed on winter vacation during my trip (It was winter in South Africa)After a bit of research, I found out that it has a sister restaurant, The Pot Luck Club, within the same building with a much more laxed reservation policy and is opened year round. The Pot Luck Club focuses more on small plates with inspiration taken from all over the world, ranging freely from Japanese to Italian to Vietnamese, yet still maintaining its connection to South Africa through the use of local ingredients and a great sense of homage to British Imperialism.

The restaurant has a short menu of small courses meant to be shared. As told by our lovely waitress, we ordered the entire menu for a table of 4. Dishes come out in threes in the order determined by the kitchen to create a more communal tasting menu for the entire table.

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Beef Tataki, Hoisin Dressing, Coriander Pesto, Ponzu Mayo

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Burrata, Roasted Squash, Sage

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Pot Luck Club Fish Taco: Fresh Ceviche, Black Bean Puree, Avocado, Sour Cream

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Beef Tartare

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Crispy Calamari, Yuzu Compressed Melon, Black Sesame Emulsion, Fermented Peanut Chilli Dressing

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Liquorice Glazed Sweet Breads, Pancetta, Tahini and Lemon Cream, Pine Nut Gremolata

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Seafood Tagine, Saffron Rouille, Cauliflower, Almond Couscous

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Wok Fried Egg, Black Garlic and Mushroom Puree, Tender Stem Broccoli, Szechuan Dressing

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Shredded Confit Duck Leg, Plum Vinaigrette, Plum Hoisin, Chinese 5 Spice Crisp

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Pork Belly Phở Orange Master Stock, Kimchi Turnip, Sriracha Daikon

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Smoked Beef Fillet with Black Pepper and Truffle Cafe au Lait

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Pot Luck Club Peri Peri Chicken

 

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Smoked Bacon, Apple and Almond Tart, Caramel Ice Cream, Popcorn

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Hibiscus Poached Pear, Summer Berries, Black Olive Honeycomb, Peach Granita

 

The meal definitely had some standout dishes and plenty of mediocre ones. Dishes such as the Beef Tartare and the Wok Fried Egg clearly demonstrates cooking at a very high and sophisticated level, with layers of distinct flavours to go well with the chefs’ creativity and technical prowess. The 50-50 blend of smoke beef and raw beef in the tartare made for beautifully smokey and balanced bites while the wok hei flavours imparted in the runny egg was phenomenal. However, the meal itself also had some definite lows. The Fish Tacos was a clear miss, having somehow more beans than fish and an an

However, the meal itself also had some definite lows. The Fish Tacos was a clear miss, having somehow more beans than fish and a thick coating of oil on the chips that coats the diner’s palate with a bland and viscous substance. The worst of all must be the chef’s Pork Belly Phở. An acidic and inedible broth basically destroyed the more subtle flavours that are commonly associated with a good bowl of Phở. Maybe I am being extra critical? But as a Vietnamese, I take my phở very seriously. 

I couldn’t help but think what can the crown jewel of the chef’s will amounts to after trying his more casual restaurant. But as of right now, I am not impressed.

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