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High-end modern at new Table No. 1

A virtual conga line of celebrity chefs are setting up shops in Shanghai this year but British chef Jason Atherton brings a fresh approach to a new eatery recently opened at South Bund boutique hotel The Waterhouse.

Atherton, who plied his trade at Gordon Ramsay's group of restaurants for nine years before branching out on his own, has launched Table No. 1 on the ground floor of the 19-room boutique hotel.

In keeping with the Ramsay philosophy of using the freshest local ingredients and fostering relationships with local growers, Atherton and his Scottish head chef Scott Melvin have been hitting the markets looking for the best produce.

"More than 80 percent of food on the menu are local ingredients sourced from local suppliers, growersand the markets," Atherton says.

"I think it is important to support the local economy and to build relationships with local farmers rather than just fly everything in."

Atherton is best known for his work with Ramsay's Maze restaurant in London and he has taken the same relaxed approach to Table No. 1, his first venture in Asia.

Located in The Waterhouse - a refurbished former warehouse that has been faithfully restored to keep the industrial feel of the building, with naked concrete walls and minimalist d??cor - Table No. 1 is a pared-back room that has an outdoor courtyard that is set to open when summer heats up.

Eschewing the white table clothes and formality of fine dining for long rustic wooden tables that encourage a shared, interactive dining experience, Atherton says he wanted to do modern European food but in a relaxed way.

"I have worked and traveled abroad a lot and I really like that Asian way of sharing food, so I wanted to recreate that eating style but using modern European food," he says. "The menu will be seasonally driven. I think this shared style of eating in Asia works well and isn't dissimilar to some parts of Europe like Spain."

Dishes are slightly smaller than a full main but Atherton doesn't fall into the trap of slopping dishes onto plates so everyone can muck in.

"I still want the presentation to be Michelin level, its high-end modern contemporary food," he says.


Some of the star dishes include a local white crab and avocado appetizer that is served in a martini glass and is partnered with a light sweet corn sorbet to make it a perfect light, fresh summer dish.

The slow-poached local prawn starter is a testament to the kitchen's eye for local seafood, with the prawns debunking the myth that you can't get good seafood in Shanghai.

Served with a delicate garlic cream and spinach puree, this dish also benefits from a garnish of slivers of elephant clams, which add a briny, last touch to the dish.

The creativity keeps coming in the mains with a slow-cooked deboned pig's head sure to intrigue diners.

Prices are between 58 yuan (US$8.50) and 110 yuan for a starter and mains are around 100 yuan to 120 yuan. The wine list features a number of interesting smaller wineries from France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, Chile, Spain and the United States, and there is a large selection between 400 yuan and 650 yuan a bottle. A glass starts from 90 yuan.

Along with head chef Melvin, who headed up Maze on a daily basis, Atherton has also garnered the services of Maze dessert specialist South African Kim Lyle.

Her creations are not to be missed and include homemade sorbets, a white chocolate and coffee infused with plum ripple flavors.

The multi-layered mango and rose tea trifle with lychee granite is a sweet summer palate cleanser at the end of the meal while serious chocolate lovers can find all they want in the bitter chocolate ganache, served with sugar-dusted brioche croutons and chocolate bubbles.

Table No. 1 is a restaurant for people that want to experience what can be done with fresh seasonal products rather than eat something flown in from thousands of kilometers away.

Atherton shows what is possible when good chefs take the time to source the best of what is locally available and, instead of simply being just another celebrity chef to fly in and fly out, offer something a little more lasting for the city's food culture.

Table No. 1

Address: 1/F, The Waterhouse, 1-3 Maojiayuan Rd, near Zhongshan Rd S.

Tel: 6080-2918


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