Secrecy continues to surround R Trader. Try to take a selfie when you visit and you’ll be admonished; try to send a photographer to get some shots of the dining room and they’ll be turned away. What is no secret is that it’s a seriously brilliant addition to Dubai’s restaurant and nightlife scene, steeped in Jazz Age cool.
So we know it’s a venue worth visiting, but is the food worth eating? In a word, yes. And while the décor, ambiance and house rules of R Trader overall are very specific and rigid (in a good way), the kitchen doesn’t seem to bound by the same restrictions.
On first glance, the menu seems to be all over the place – there are Indian, Chinese, and South American ingredients and flavours throughout. Look a little more closely, though, and you’ll see it’s rooted in British and European classics.
Tartare, tortellini, risotto and poached fish are all present. Where the chef stamps his own mark on these dishes is by spicing them and dressing them up with flashes of inspiration from all over the globe.
We choose the beef tartare, which is chopped chunkily and topped with smoked chilli and crispy arepa – corn cakes (a South American touch). It looks as stunning as it tastes. Next up are chunky, just-the-right-amount-of-pink lamb chops. This dish has Indian influences, with onion bhaji, chaat masala and aloo gobi alongside the beautiful lamb. Then a beef cheek turns up looking more like a work of art than food, with pretty pickled onions atop the fall-apart meat, and raclette cheese adding sharpness to the mash. The baked halibut with spicy Chinese chillies is another stunner.
By the time you read this, new dishes will be on the menu. R Trader’s secret, it seems, lies in its inventiveness, and altering our preconceptions about what a restaurant and bar can do.
The Bill (for two) 1x butcher's cut tartare Dhs75 1x BBQ Welsh lamb Dhs160 1x 12-hour braised beef cheek Dhs100 1x baked halibut Dhs150 Total (excluding service) Dhs485 The bottom line Dishes that will blow you away with their presentation and ambition.