Two South African restaurants made the list of the top 76 restaurants in the world, with one ranking No. 22.
The Test Kitchen in Cape Town was named the best restaurant in Africa, and the 22nd top restaurant in the world in the S.Pellegrino Best Restaurants Awards for 2016.
Another Cape Town restaurant, La Colombe, is the second South African restaurant ranking in the top 100 for 2016, coming in at No. 76.
By comparison, Italy had four top 50 restaurants, including No. 1 in the world — Osteria Francescana. Spain had three in the Top 10, including El Celler de Can Roca — No.1 in 2015 and now at No.2. The U.S. had six restaurants in the top 50.
When you’re talking top restaurant lists, it can get confusing. The World’s 50 Best Restaurants actually lists 100 restaurants.
This list has become the most powerful, most anticipated ranking of its kind, more so than the Michelin Guide, Brett Martin wrote in GQ.
The Top 50 may be the most powerful list, but the Michelin Guide, named after car tires, may be the more romanticized list. It has been the subject of recent movies like “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” a 2014 film starring Helen Mirren about two feuding adjacent restaurants in a French town.
Here’s what Martin wrote about the World’s 50 Best list’s back story in GQ:
(It) has become the restaurant world’s most influential ranking … If you pay any attention to chefs and restaurants, you will have heard of the List, which, in 14 years of existence, has gone from an obscure curiosity to dominating the dining conversation, even eclipsing the Michelin Guide, that grand-père of restaurant judgment.
Cape Town’s The Test Kitchen is climbing the rankings towards first place. It ranked 28th in the 2015 list and 48th in 2014, BusinessTech reported. Helping its movement kin the rankings is Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ “rock-star” flair in the kitchen.
Described as experimental food theater in Cape Town, The Test Kitchen would stand out in any of the world’s gastronomic capitals, but in the South African city it’s pretty much unique, according to The Worlds 50 Best website.
The vibe is informal, industrial chic, channeling the artsy, edgy vibe of Woodstock, the neighborhood where it’s based. It’s a low-lit, clubby space of exposed brick, hanging pipes and leather-backed seats starring the cooking, done in an open plan kitchen.
Born in the U.K., Dale-Roberts trained at Baur Au Lac Hotel in Zurich, Switzerland, was executive sous chef at Soho House Media Club where he cooked for the rich and famous, and headed kitchens across Asia, helping develop a bold, inventive global style.
Most plates arrive with a theatrical flourish. The “Light Curry Glazed” signature dish is the most memorable on the tasting menu. The local fish arrives, steaming between two concrete flowers pots, sitting on charcoal, before it is plated and brought back atop a carrot and cashew purée, finished with carrot beurre noisette.
If you can’t get a booking at The Test Kitchen, you can eat food cooked under Dale-Roberts’ guidance in the same Old Biscuit Mill complex in Cape Town. Pot Luck Club is the Test Kitchen’s more relaxed sibling, serving global-inflected sharing plates, while the newly opened Naturalis, is focused, Ottolenghi-esque deli-style dining, according to the Top5o website.
Another Cape Town restaurant, La Colombe, is the second South African restaurant ranking in the top 100, coming in at 76th.
Headed by executive chef Scot Kirton and head chef James Gaag, the restaurant delivers a French signature theme with Asian influence.
This marks the third time La Colombe made the ranking, with the previous two times in 2009 and 2010, when it made the top 50 under chef Luke Dale Roberts (of the Test Kitchen). It reached its highest spot at 12th place overall in 2012.
Chef Scot was been recognised as Top Chef in South Africa at the Eat OutAwards in November 2015.