Restaurant Review: R Trader, DIFC, Dubai
One of Dubai's most exciting chefs is serving raclette with beef and Roquefort cheesecake
R Trader doesn’t want you to see inside; the press team won’t share a snap of the interiors in line with the venue’s wannabe illicit prohibition-era theme. This unduly raises intrigue for an interior that’s traditional, pleasant, but forgettable, dare I say bland; the décor equivalent of vanilla ice cream. But the food – OMG, the food – that’s a completely different story. Chef Dominic Robinson is a genius, and I would sit in a cardboard box if his food was being served there.
The menu features four sections: Raw, Sea, Birds & Beasts, Land. There’s no set format to follow; order your own dishes or share. There’s no division between courses either, no starters or mains – some plates are more filling than others, the manager tells me, and the waiters are there to advise guests. Confusing, yes, but with food this good, I’m prepared to ask questions.
I order a few raw dishes and one hot ‘Beast’. Hazelnuts add an earthy crunch to the soft petals of turbot carpaccio dotted with discs of translucent Jerusalem artichoke and Périgord truffle. Butcher’s Cut tartar is a neat square of melt-in-the-mouth beef topped with a harlequin grid of red, green and yellow sauces – raw meat never looked so pretty. My hero dish is an adaptation of one of my all-time favourites, raclette – molten cheese served straight from the wheel after being warmed in front of the fire, usually found in Swiss cantons where it’s unceremoniously slopped onto plates with pickles and new potatoes. At R Trader, it’s an altogether more elegant affair – a golden cape of raclette cheese is draped over a fluffy pillow of Amandine mash, alongside a glistening slab of 12-hour-braised beef cheek (so soft you could eat it with a spoon), decorated with dome-like layers of pickled onion filled with a green herb oil.
I ploughed on with my dairy addiction, ordering a dessert of baked Roquefort cheesecake with jellied Madeira and grape, which boasted all the visual joys of a fancy confection, with all the complex flavours of a refined cheese board.
With its smorgasbord of premium dining options, it’s hard to stand out in DIFC, but Dominic Robinson has managed to shine, and his creations have to be sampled.
INFO: 12noon-2am, Sun-Thu, reservations advised, Level M, Podium Atrium, Al Fattan Currency House, DIFC, 04 343 5518, firstname.lastname@example.org, rtraderduabi.com