Within what used to be Gordon Ramsey’s upscale restaurant Verre is now a more subdued, but equally sophisticated eatery by the name of Table 9. Located at the Hilton Dubai Creek, British chef Darren Velvick has recently taken over from Gordon Ramsey protégés Nick Alvis and Scott Price, who established the restaurant in 2011. He hails from London where he spent more than 14 years working with Ramsey and Marcus Wareing. At Table 9 Velvik has created a unique dining experience that emphasizes traditional British fare with a distinctive contemporary twist.
Since it opened in 2011, Table 9 has been one of those restaurants with a reputation for high-end chef-driven recipes – aspects of a culinary landscape that until recently have been quite scarce in Dubai. The eatery has always been known for its innovative and gourmet cuisine so much so that many residents will easily take a trip all the way to Deira where the restaurant is located for a hearty meal. And this, frankly put, is one of Table 9′s only drawbacks as well as the fact that it has no bar attached to it. The latter would be a nice addition and provide a relaxed waiting area before venturing into the main dining room.
For starters we opted for the goats cheese, watercress and onion; the marinated scallops with lime, avocado and apple and the mackerel with horseradish and beetroot. All arrived with beautiful presentation – not overloaded onto the plate, but in bite-size proportions and heightened by the coloring of the ingredients used. The marinated scallops were a personal favorite and were juxtaposed well with the avocado and apple giving off a nice marriage of sweet and salty tastes. The mackerel was also an unusual and tasty dish and once again combined ingredients that had hitherto been incorporated together. The dish was once again a flavorful concoction of sweet and salty.
Our main course selection was composed of Aubergine molasses, tomato and ricotta as well as Sea bass with egg, broccoli and hollandaise sauce. The aubergine was nothing short of fantastic. As it is one of my favorite vegetables and accustomed as I am to my Melanze alla Parmigiana or eggplant parmesan after many years in Italy, this new variation seemed to be a nice dish to try. The molasses offered an enticingly sweet texture while the fillings of tomato and ricotta emulated the traditional Italian dish. The sea bass was also wonderfully cooked and not too heavy on the sauce, which being hollandaise can often be found in heavy proportions. This was just right.
My guest, who had previously eaten at Table 9, suggested we go for the Crispy sprouts with truffle dressing as a side dish for our main selection. I wasn’t so sure about brussel sprouts. Memories of me practically having to be forced fed this vegetable as a child made me a tad bit reluctant. But she was very right. They arrived delicious crispy and bursting with flavor from the truffle dressing – almost akin were they to potato chips and our forks kept reaching for more out of sheer addiction.
The meal was a masterful creation of British fare with hints of Mediterranean influences and other purely creative touches that seemed to have been brought on by experimentation. “The idea was to create a casual yet sophisticated ambiance where one could feast on gourmet dining that is at once imaginative and flexible to cater to a range of tastes,” says Velvick, who was warm and friendly and emphasized his need to serve his dishes with the freshest ingredients possible. Casual and elegant it was, despite the fact that the hotel itself, is now considered to be one of Dubai’s more older buildings. A bit of a design enhancement could go a long way and entice diners to travel the extra miles even more.
For desert we chose the Carrot cake with cream cheese and a plate from the cheese selection of blue, honey and salted pecan cheese. Just the right amount of indulgence to end the meal. Both plates, like the starters and the mains, came in a great size and were easily manageable after our meal. While the carrot cake wasn’t what one would typically expect of the North American sweet, the addition of cream cheese spread over the carrot cake was divine as was the slightly sweet blue, honey and salted pecan cheese.
We ended with no complaints, just a few personal moans and groans about traveling back to downtown Dubai. But the meal hadn’t finished. As went to leave we were presented with sweets for the road: delicious homemade chocolate truffles. Table 9 is definitely worth the journey.
Table 9 by Darren Velvik is located in the Hilton Dubai Creek. Tel: +971 4 212 7551www.table9dubai.com