The British chef Alan Bates recently left his position as head chef of Studio in Copenhagen to open a restaurant on his own. Before running the kitchen at Studio, Bates worked at fine dining restaurants around the world, including Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark, El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, and both The Fat Duck and The Hand and Flowers in England. Chef Bates has been teasing about his new project a bit on Instagram, so we interviewed him to get all the details about his soon-to-open tasting menu restaurant in Østerbro – Connection by Alan Bates.
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CONNECTION BY ALAN BATES Address & Contact Information Øster Farimagsgade 18, Copenhagen, Denmark Website Instagram
Food is About Connection
It’s no secret that food brings people together – it’s the glue that holds society together. During this year of lockdown, it’s not as much the food we’ve missed; it’s the connection – with the chef, with the staff, with the other guests, with the friends and family you are dining with, and with the farmers who grow the ingredients on your plate.
Connection by Alan Bates will explore these relationships, this web of people intersecting from the farm to the kitchen to the table. Bates wants to showcase the connection between himself and the producers he works with, and he also wants to develop a connection between himself and the guests. Chef Bates dreams of a noisy, boisterous dining room, full of chattering and laughing, of glasses clinking, of guests connecting with each other.
There will only be 10 seats at Alan Bates’ new restaurant. The intimate dining room will center around one shared table, which will be sectioned off with plant boxes to divide parties. Guests will be able to peek up a slight staircase from their chairs to the open kitchen, where Bates will be working alone. In the beginning, it will be just Bates in the kitchen and one person, Jeppe Nexø (Studio, Clou), on the floor, so Bates will be a big part of the cooking and the hosting. One day, he hopes to bring in more staff and expand the team, but he’s starting cautiously in case the reopening isn’t long-lived.
To start, Bates will offer two seatings (one at 5:30 p.m. and one at 8:00 p.m.) and a slightly shorter tasting menu. But in the future, he hopes to work up to a longer format menu with only one longer seating. He also plans to incorporate a lot more personalization in the future, through the use of a questionnaire when booking. Here, he will ask guests their favorite flavors and food memories, and try to incorporate those details into the tasting menu. Aspects of the menu will be tailored to the individual so that he can focus the narrative completely on the guest and their dining experience. The questionnaire will also ask guests some of their favorite songs, so that they can be incorporated into the restaurant’s playlist for the evening.
What’s On The Menu
Connection by Alan Bates will open with a set menu for 850 kroner. Bates is calling it a five-course menu, but with snacks and petit fours, it will be closer to eight servings in the end. The tasting menu will change regularly and will reflect what’s available during that season. Long-time fans of Bates’ cooking can expect a style of food similar to what he was serving at Studio, although Bates revealed he plans to take a few more risks regarding spices and outside influences. “I want to draw on my experiences from traveling internationally, and I want to reflect that in the food,” he explained.
Ingredients will be sourced from small, local producers when possible, and from abroad if they’re not produced in Denmark. The first menu, especially, might be the most familiar in style; but there’s actually only one signature dish that will be following him from Studio – his chicken liver and foie gras parfait served on brioche. This will be a staple on the menu, but the garnish will change seasonally. Other than that, every dish is brand new. After the meal, guests can retire to the lounge area, where they can relax with coffee and petit fours.
To drink, there will be two wine pairings to choose from, curated by Bates’ friend Peter Pepke (sommelier at Kong Hans Kælder) – an accessible option for 750 kroner, and a more luxurious option at 1400 kroner for those looking to splurge. The pairings will lean on the conventional side, while the concise but constantly evolving wine list will offer something for everyone. Bates plans to keep the list small (around 30 whites and 30 reds) so that he can keep the selection interesting and change it often. “To start, we’ll offer a broad spread of wine and see what people buy, let the market decide,” Bates explained. “Are customers picking more natural wines? Then we’ll push the list in that direction.” Bates also told us that he saw this as an opportunity for himself to try a lot of bottles in a short time and learn more about wine.
Opening a Restaurant During a Pandemic
For some, the lockdown was a much-needed break from the taxing lifestyle of working in a fine dining kitchen. For others, it was torture being kept away from a job that they love. Bates falls into the latter category, and used his time during lockdown to put his plans for his dream restaurant in motion and test new dishes. “I can’t wait to open,” he told us. “It’s so much better for me to work than to be stuck at home. This has been my productive lockdown project.”
But Bates would be a fool not to acknowledge the risks of opening a new restaurant at such an unstable time, especially since he’s put all of his own money into his new project. “I keep flip flopping between ‘this is the best idea I’ve ever had’ and ‘this is terrible.’ Just giving all my savings to charity would be less risky,” Bates laughed. “But the only way out is forward, I just have to keep going. I’m ready to step into the unknown and see what I look like on the other side.”
Connection by Alan Bates will open May 5th on Øster Farimagsgade near the botanic gardens, as soon as the restrictions on restaurants are lifted. In general, bookings will open about one month ahead of time, and he plans to launch the restaurant’s website in mid-April. Depending on how things go, Bates would ultimately love to upgrade and move into a bigger location, but for now he’s grateful for the opportunity to start small.
It’s been a hard year, but Bates is ready to go: “I can’t wait to get back into the kitchen. Cooking is what I do, it’s my passion.”
Are you looking forward to the opening of Connection by Alan Bates? Let us know in a comment below.