Top chef Adam Simmonds has arrived in the big smoke with his Soho pop-up – The Test Kitchen on Frith Street.
With a one year lease (on the former Barrafina site) and only 23 covers, diners can expect truly inventive cooking from a chef whose culinary journey has resulted in two Michelin stars and a place in The Good Food Guide, putting Simmonds on their ‘chefs to watch’ list.
The Test Kitchen is exactly what it says on the tin - there is no set genre and the menu is a moveable feast that evolves and develops, based on guest feedback, in preparation for Simmonds' first permanent London restaurant next year.
Inventive dishes reveal Simmonds’ incredible attention to detail and his passion for unusual and surprising flavour combinations. Quail is paired with English asparagus, sunflower seeds and lardo; red mullet with green strawberries and green tomatoes; and pheasant egg with kohlrabi, girolles and truffle.
Vegetarian dishes are dialled up with white asparagus, Linzer potatoes, caviar and whey; while desserts feature equally interesting ingredients like Charentais melon with black olive and saffron; or yeast parfait with lychee and puffed rice.
The Test Kitchen isn’t just a theatre for tastebuds - the restaurant brings drama direct to the diner. Counter seating, overlooking the completely open plan kitchen, gives diners a full view of and direct access to Simmonds and his brigade, so they can share four or five plates each while watching the culinary story unfold and debating dishes with The Test Kitchen team.
Many of London’s upscale venues have intimidating wine lists with even more intimidating prices. Not so at The Test Kitchen. The restaurant’s 31-strong wine list is approachable and affordable, while still standing up to the menu. For connoisseurs of the grape, there’s a wine ledger featuring a limited selection of fine and rare wines. The ledger is ever-changing and once a wine has gone it’s gone.
With Michelin stars under his belt and a spot in the finals of The Great British Menu, it’s safe to say that Simmonds is a chef with real ambition. After apprenticing at Le Gavroche, he trained under some of the biggest names in the culinary world before taking on a role at Manoir aux Quat'saisons under Raymond Blanc.
Simmonds achieved his first Michelin star as Head Chef at Ynshir Hall Hotel in Wales before moving on to Danesfield House in Marlow where he gained a star for the second time, which the restaurant held for three consecutive years.