South America is a continent that is huge in its physicality. I once took a bus from the middle of the Chile, Santiago, to a village far up north in the Atacama desert; that alone was 24 hours non-stop. This physical presence is echoed in the depth of its cultural complexity. A vibrant, vast and epic place. You are never short of show-stopping vistas to admire and the hospitality of the people is unparalleled. So, needless to say, I was pretty excited about to hear that Table 9 was offering us a sneak preview of their South American culinary concept evening. Not exactly well-known, South American cuisine, in my opinion, is vastly underrated by most. While, they may lack the complexity of other dishes, in terms of layers of flavours; when done well, South American food is scrumptious and has what can only be described as a “deep” taste.
Table 9 is a well-known bistro on the foodie scene in Dubai and the menu endevoured to live up to this well-earned reputation. Started in 2011, this restaurant pushes culinary boundaries and has hosted concept menus from chefs around the world. So, there was definitely some anticipation from Lucy and myself.
Fortunately, our expectations were met and beyond. Chilean Chef Esteban Gomez certainly outdid himself and served up some decent grub for us with his 5-course taster menu. Allowing us to take a leisurely amble around the diverse continent of South America; sampling its gastronomic delights. Covering several 5 countries – Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Argentina – the menu is thoughtful and considered; giving you a great introduction to South American cuisine if you are new to the flavours of the region.
First up for the evening was the ceviche. Now, ceviche – a dish consisting of fresh, raw fish combined with lime, peppers, finely sliced onions – is one that you often find on South American restaurant menus but quality or flavor is usually missing. But I can say that without a doubt the ceviche definitely rocked my world. It brought memories flooding back of eating freshly prepared bowls of the stuff off the Chiloe Island quayside. Served with a sauce that I later found out was salsa brava, it added some heat but just the right amount. A real revelation, it elevated the dish; brightening the rest of the ingredients and bringing them along for the ride so that they all worked in tandem. Effectively, it jolted my brain awake after a long day and got me anticipating the courses to follow.
Corn is a staple food throughout the continent and it features several times on the menu. I am not the biggest fan and usually tend to avoid it as it tends to be bland and overcooked. However, the meat pie – pastel de choclo – with corn topping crust smelt delicious and tasted just as much. Rustic and simple, Chef Gomez – who hails from the southern region of Chile – explained that this dish is typically served on Sundays at family gatherings. So, it is a personal favourite. An unusual combination of ingredients which include minced beef, chicken, egg and olives, it might sound like they are all at odds with each other, but they all fuse to become a wonderful stick-to-your-ribs type of dish. Pure comfort food. We washed this all down with a decent Chilean chardonnay. I have never been a massive fan of Chilean wines as they tend to be on the acidic side but the one selected for us was medium-bodied with a sophisticated crispness which worked well with the heavier dishes on the menu.
Moving on to the sweeter side of things. You know it’s a weekend when there are not one but two desserts are on the cards; one hailing from Colombia and the other from Argentina. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but let’s just say mention that quince and caramelized plantain with honeycomb might be my new favourite things. For those of you who haven’t tried plantain before, it is almost exactly the same as the humble banana but less sweet and possesses a slightly firmer texture – drawing comparison to the potato. The only small criticism would be that perhaps it went one dessert too far. Some of the dishes were quite satisfying despite the taster size. But that aside, on pure tastiness and elegant execution, we weren’t complaining.
I highly recommend Table 9 if you feeling like something a little different on a Friday night. It is the type of menu that will suit those who are more conservative in their food choices yet there are a couple of interesting, newer flavours there to satisfy the more adventurous food-lovers too.
Just remember that this taste extravaganza is for one night only – 18th November 2016 from 7:00 to 11:00pm. Don’t miss out and make your reservation at Table 9 now. It is well worth it for a night out.
AED 199 inclusive of food only
AED 349 inclusive of food and selected house beverages