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Out with Gordon, in with Table 9; Meet Scott and Nick

When this media invite landed in FooDiva’s inbox, my heart started racing. What were Scott Price and Nick Alvis up to? What about Gordon Ramsay? And why Mojo Gallery as the venue? A few days later, and two days before this press event, Gordon Ramsay announced he was pulling out of his Dubai restaurant.

In fact, his ten year contract with Hilton Dubai Creek for all the hotel’s F&B not just the flagship Verre, came to an end and he wasn’t renewing. So enter Scott and Nick’s new home-grown concept, Table 9 replacing Verre. FooDiva caught up with Scott and Nick to find out what’s on the table:

1. Explain your new Table 9 concept.

Scott: A new experience. Very service-oriented. From what we’ve moved away from, it’s a nice relaxed atmosphere, a lot more fun. We’ve changed the décor – light, vibrant. We’ve got some quite funky music. We want to attract more people. And just make what we have been doing a lot more accessible. Instead of coming in for a three-course meal, you can come in for a  couple of little tasting dishes and a glass of wine, or if you want to come and have a seven-course meal with matching wines then you can do that too. An enjoyable experience. We want people to come in and enjoy what we do, enjoy the service we provide and want to come back.

We have 20 tables in the restaurant, but Table 9 is the Chefs Table for ten people, with a direct view of the kitchen through a glass wall and via a video link.

2. Why two head chefs? How do you work together and who does what? Who’s the boss?

Scott: We’ve worked together for a long time. We met in 2004 at Claridges and worked together for three and a half years. There are people you can work with in a kitchen and people you can’t, and we’ve always found it easy to work together. And we’ve always wanted to go in the same direction. On our day off, we’d sit with a pint and talk about opening a place together. It’s weird it’s gone that way. Nick went to Europe and back. And I came to Dubai.

As far as who’s the boss, I am Executive Chef of the whole hotel, so I have other things to do as well. When it comes to the restaurant we decide everything together along with the restaurant manager. Nick is focused on Table 9. At night time both of us are in the kitchen.

3. Talk us through the menu.

Nick: The way the menu is laid out, light, salady dishes are priced at AED 80; we recommend you start with two to give you a different experience, and we then have dishes at AED 120 which are more your lamb, venison, halibut – and we suggest one of these. That’s how we look at a balanced meal.

Scott: People can come in and have a lot, or a light dish. If people want a more gastronomic experience we’ve got two set menus; one is the no fish and no meat, and the other menu shows off what we do best. We have a large selection of wines by the glass, and an amazing sommelier.

4. You are a strong supporter of fish sustainability. What produce are you sourcing locally?

Scott: The fish at Table 9 is sustainable but not local. I use the local stuff in Glasshouse. It’s a difficult one because we are a European restaurant so we are expected to provide European produce. As soon as we got here, we looked for two to three suppliers who we can trust to provide good quality, reliably and we are staying with them at the moment. People expect a standard.

Nick: Our root vegetables mainly are sourced from the Middle East. We would love to use more local produce, but we base our menus on the European seasons.

5. You’ve said you want to cater to non-meat eaters. Have you identified a gap in the market here, and what percentage of your dishes are purely veg?

Scott: If people have to ask for vegetarian you feel embarrassed, so we put it on the menu and we’re not hiding it. It’s a challenge to do really good vegetarian dishes and we’ve been working on it for months trying to get some nice things. The quality and standard needs to be as good as anything on the menu. There’s a big gap in price between the two tasting menus, but we still use top quality produce for the vegetarian dishes.

We are not trying to be niche. Any good restaurant in any country should always offer a good solid vegetarian menu or dishes. Approximately 30% of the dishes are vegetarian. It’s healthy. We also have gluten-free and coeliac dishes. If we are not ready for people with dietary requirements it’s harder on us, so we’re making it easier for everyone by having it on the menu.

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