Rocksalt Roof Garden is a new Champagne and Oyster Bar and Restaurant that opened recently on Church Street. It is the brain child of Sophia Hooper and Tai Alvis of Lee, a fun young couple who are widely-travelled and have pulled together the best aspects of their favourite places in St. Tropez, Barcelona and Las Vegas to create a black marble-topped, classy chill-out joint in the heart of Esher.
Scottish-born Tai explains that his name which means “the start of something great” was given to him by Prince Pleng Rabidan of Thailand, a good friend of his father, Baron Alvis of Lee. The Baron started out his career as a whisky broker and became a hugely successful international businessman. He sometimes took his young family with him on his travels so Tai was schooled in France and in Portugal for a total of 8 years before returning to the UK for the rest of his childhood.
Sophia was born in Thames Ditton. Her mother was a dancer and she followed in her footsteps, training as a classical dancer before leaving school and travelling to the States to compete in Dirty Dancing, the American precursor to “So You Think You Can Dance”. She did incredibly well and it launched her career as a commercial backing dancer, performing on MTV and on promotional videos with the likes of Black Eyed Peas and Kylie Minogue! Her 7 year dancing career meant she travelled frequently to American and Mediterranean destinations.
Tai met Sophia for the first time at Esteem, a bar and restaurant in Esher that has since closed down. They became very good friends for several years before realising that theirs was more than just a friendship and have been together for a couple of years now. At Rocksalt, they have pulled together a team of 8 core staff, including long-time friend and barman, Leo Kacaj who has trained with the legendary mixologist Nick Strangeway and head chef, Conrad Byrne who spent 2 years working with Marco Pierre White as well as stints at none other than The Ivy and Le Caprice. More recently he oversaw fine dining experiences for golfers and their guests at Wentworth Club.
Tai is a self-confessed foodie. Early influences from a Bordeaux upbringing and elemental Japanese philosophy picked up in the world of martial arts inspired Tai to fuse French flamboyance and sophistication with Japanese minimalism and mystique! Amongst other delicacies, he is keen to present otsumami options on his menu – small plate food served with alcohol – as well as seasonal oysters – Scottish, Irish and Cornish, prepared in a variety of ways: cooked, smoked or nude with lemon or lime and chilli dressings...
Such creative passion and positively buzzing energy has resulted in a truly unique ambience. Rocksalt brings exciting new flavours to Esher – make sure you get a taste of the action!
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