It seems there is to be no rest for the exceptionally talented Luke Dale-Roberts of Test Kitchen fame. His newest addition, Salsify, just opened in Cape Town’s historic Roundhouse in Camps Bay.
Built around 1786 as a guardhouse for the Dutch East India Company to keep watch for enemy ships, the Roundhouse is beloved by Capetonians for its breathtaking views of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles. It is also a bolthole during summer when the southeaster wind sweeps over the city – leaving the Roundhouse by some magical feat of location – entirely wind-free. The entirely round building is steeped in history as Lord Charles Somerset, the Governor of the Cape from 1814 to 1827, used it as a base and hunting lodge from where he’d take hunting parties up onto Table Mountain.
In fact, all Luke’s restaurants are located in incredible buildings and locations in the city with The Test Kitchen housed in an Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town’s former industrial area of Woodstock, while The Pot Luck Club is on the same site but on the top floor of an old Silo building – with magnificent views. Shortmarket Club is in the city centre in a heritage building and former warehouse, so it’s fitting that Salsify should occupy a similarly iconic site.
The restaurant is a partnership between Luke and his head chef Ryan Cole, with whom he has changed the dining landscape in Cape Town. At Salsify the focus is on seafood and a root-to-leaf dining experience with a strong waste-not, want-not approach. ‘Cape Town has such a wide range of produce peculiar to the province’s many micro-seasons that we can’t wait to push boundaries by creating dishes defined by delicate yet intense seasonal flavors and techniques,’ says Luke, who cites Ryan as a quick-minded natural talent. ‘He’s one of the best technical chef’s I’ve had the pleasure to work with and I trust him implicitly.’
And one can see why. My starter of spring minestrone soup with oyster and sea herbs was revolutionary and has changed my perception of this Italian classic forever, while my main of celeriac tart with baked mushrooms and goat’s cheese cream was a perfect marriage of flavor that had me wanting more! Luke’s wife and design partner, Sandalene Dale-Roberts has given the building a new look in a way that both honors and challenges its past. Vintage rugs underfoot on the original oak floors topped with a mix of antique and contemporary furniture, and a wall of graffiti by international street artist Louis de Villiers is the perfect foile to an outsized 1.3m bronze sculpture by local sculptor, Otto du Plessis.
Another new restaurant from Luke that opened just on November 1 is The Commissary, a pared-down eatery inspired by food markets. As such there are no reservations and diners can expect affordable food with big unapologetic flavors enjoyed at communal tables. If you’d like us to include a visit to one or all of Luke Dale-Roberts award-winning restaurants in Cape Town, email us at email@example.com and we’ll make it happen.