Table 9 by Darren Velvick

Never have I wanted a restaurant to succeed as much as Table 9. It’s in rambunctious, character-filled Deira. It’s the brainchild of Scott Price and Nick Alvis, the nice men who headed Gordon Ramsay’s Verre (it occupies the same venue). And its philosophy is simple: fine, flavourful dishes that let the ingredients do the talking. We ventured there on a Tuesday night, and the bustling streets of Deira were quiet and calm. I was surprised to find the restaurant not so – about half the tables were full. Yet I was instantly disappointed by the decor, which is still very ‘Verre’: the airport-style carpet and bulging metallic columns are rather ‘nouveau’. There is, however, one change: as guests enter, they’re presented with a voyeuristic, installation art-style projection screen, permanently focused on the plating area of the kitchen. Its whitewashed image shows the hands of the chef (is it Scott, is it Nick?) plating the food, delicately and patiently. Unfortunately, by the time my date and I sat down we couldn’t see this attraction, our vision obscured by one of the ballsy silver pillars. Sitting at our table was an elegantly wobbly plate with Table 9 carved into it, created by local ceramics artist Homa Farley, alongside some delicately stained antique cutlery. I glanced around, noting the tiny details employed by the Table 9 team, as well as the unusual yet pleasing soul/disco soundtrack: the result is whimsical, unique and ‘lived in’. I just wished they could have gutted the Verre interior, thrown down some battered wooden floorboards and gone full-on eclectic. We were soon presented with a recycled brown paper menu by our enthusiastic waiter, who explained that there are three price points – Dhs70 for all starters (he recommended four between us), Dhs100 for all mains (he recommended we share) and Dhs55 for desserts. There are also two tasting menus – a veg option with courses simply called ‘egg’, ‘goats cheese’, ‘chicory’ and so on for Dhs300, and a carnivorous offering for Dhs450. We opted to mix and match, and the waiter, refreshingly, suggested the optimum order in which to eat them. First up was a quirky amuse bouche, a ‘potted plant with edible soil’, with a crunchy dukkah-like top and a feather-light cauliflower mousse centre. It had a pleasant, full-bodied flavour, like cauliflower on steroids. Next up was the ‘lobster, vanilla, crackling, mango’ – perfectly cooked pieces of shellfish with slivers of mango, the vanilla just an echo at the end. Our next starter, ‘hen’s egg, cepes, vinegar caramel’ was the star. The oozing, deep-fried hen’s egg was surrounded by vinegar and mushroom in all its glory: so good we forgot for a minute we were in a classy establishment and uncouthly mopped it up with our fingers. Our third and final starter was ‘trotter, braised knuckle, cucumber marmalade’: the pork melded nicely with the refreshing cucumber marmalade (far more delicious than it sounds), with a touch of Chinese spice. The service was so swift that before we could figure out the subtleties of our pork dish’s spices, we were presented with our first main: ‘sea bass, winkle and oregano butter, pickled salsify’. The winkles (yes, small snails) added texture and the oregano jus was aromatic and subtle: it prompted a keen discussion at our table, although my date thought it was a little too much like clarified butter. Our final savoury dish, the ‘pork belly, sage dumpling, sprouts, pancetta’ was our least favourite item, the belly dry and the gravy lacking punch. We rounded off the experience with a lime and ginger slice. Beautifully presented, light and airy, it had echoes of lemongrass and tasted how a high-end Asian spa smells. We also couldn’t resist the ‘chocolate, hazelnut, caramel’, a ball of chocolate mousse with a fluffy white topping and a hazelnut centre that was rich but not cloying. Three hours rushed by thanks to the constant flow of small plates to our table, before the waiter wheeled over a rickety trolley filled with jars of home-made retro sweets for us to take home. It’s the little things in life that make a difference, and it’s the tiny touches that make Table 9 special. Sadly, the overall vision is blurred by the ghost of Verre, but whoever came up with the lolly trolley, the quirky projection screen and the local artisan pieces (oh, and the food!) is surely capable of crafting Table 9 into Dubai’s best restaurant. We’d start by ditching the geometric carpet… The bill (for two) 1x lobster Dhs70 1x hen’s egg with cepes Dhs70 1x trotter, braised knuckle Dhs70 1x sea bass Dhs100 1x pork belly Dhs100 1x lime and ginger slice Dhs55 1x chocolate, hazelnut, caramel Dhs55 1x cappuccino Dhs22 Total (including service) Dhs542

Places Near Table 9 by Darren Velvick

Glasshouse Brasserie
Glasshouse Brasserie

A cheaper sister restaurant to Table 9, this pleasant eatery remains on the nightlife radar thanks t...

table 9 by Darren Velvick - Hilton Dubai Creek
table 9 by Darren Velvick - Hilton Dubai Creek

Table 9 is a unique concept restaurant in Dubai that has become a platform for talented chefs to cre...

Glass house
Glass house

Located at Hilton Dubai The Creek, this intimate Glasshouse Brasserie offers simple, honest food coo...

Issimo Bar
Issimo Bar

Sink into a black leather chair or unwind at the chrome bar and watch live sports at the Issimo Bar...

Darya
Darya

‘Darya,’ says the restaurant’s press release, ‘makes its clientele travel to Persia through distinct...

Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge

The Rouge — no relation to the famous Parisian club, obviously — is a paean to multiculturalism....

Downtown Sports Bar & Grill
Downtown Sports Bar & Grill

My date and I had barely entered the lobby of the Metropolitan Palace hotel when a big, friendly blo...

Abshar
Abshar

I have a co-worker who’s obsessed with Persian food. He doesn’t dream in dreams, he dreams in mast;...

Topkapi
Topkapi

From Time Out Dubai Eating Out 2010Topkapi doesn’t appear to be winning its fight for clientele amon...

Taj Spa
Taj Spa

At this surprisingly opulent hotel there are many different styles of treatment available at the spa...

Chelsea Arms
Chelsea Arms

A traditional English pub offering all major sports events on a large screen.

Ashiana by Vineet
Ashiana by Vineet

The Ashiana at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers has been a Dubai institution for years. In its new home...

Creekside Japanese Restaurant
Creekside Japanese Restaurant

This may be one of the best places in Dubai to hold a social gathering: the service is friendly and...

Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo
Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo

From Time Out Dubai Eating Out 2010Vivaldi is like an Italian lothario. It looks good and is full of...

Bolshoi
Bolshoi

From Time Out Dubai Eating Out 2010Don’t come here if you have a heart condition. Not because of the...