The Test Kitchen, Soho: restaurant review
Adam Simmonds rewrites the restaurant rulebook with a weekly menu that puts experimental flavours and diner participation at the fore
What’s the draw
Where Bateman Street meets Frith, you'll find The Test Kitchen, a 12-month residency with an experimental edge by chef Adam Simmonds (formerly of Le Gavroche, The Ritz and Le Manoir). The menu is about small plates, cooked there and then, just across the short, L-shaped marble counter that acts as the only barrier between you and the chefs, with an emphasis on hands-on feedback from diners to shape future dishes (hence the name).
What to drink
The wine list is almost as extensive and varied as the amount of fancy equipment in Simmonds' sparkling chrome kitchen. Since the aim of the game is to tackle as many of the dishes as your wallet will allow, it's worth handing the reigns over to the sommelier. The last half of our meal was rounded off with the choice of a feather-light red from Austria, but the 2016 Voila assyrtiko from Cretian producer Lyrarakis was a true highlight: with a rich mouthfeel, ginger and mineral notes and a fresh, lively finish, it met and greeted both our rich truffle and pearl barley and fresh tomato and burrata starters like a well-mannered old friend.
What to eat
If you're going to do this properly, make sure to tick off at least one dish from each third of the menu (you can apologise to your bank balance later). Plays with temperature and texture are Simmonds' signature, as evidenced by our sweet heritage tomatoes with creamy, oh-so-savoury burrata and umami-laden olives; cured red mullet with crunchy, snow-white almonds and explosive green tomato chilled to sub-zero temperatures; and veal sweetbreads that pitted smokey bites of melty meat against sour bursts of crisp apple. Portion sizes might be small, but Simmonds and his team work hard to guarantee that each bite is as unexpected and action-packed as a night out around the corner on Greek Street.
Small plates from £7; wines by the glass from £5.50. 54 Frith Street, W1D 4SL; thetestkitchen.uk