Rob de Villers: Looking Back On One Year In The UAE

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Posted: 10/05/2022
Rob & Kamil

Hunter & Barrel’s inaugural year in the UAE has been a busy one! When we opened our first restaurant in the region in April 2021 at Vida Hills in Dubai, we hoped it would be well received, and perhaps lead to another. Twelve months later we had rolled out bespoke steakhouses at Yas Bay Waterfront in Abu Dhabi, Expo 2020 Dubai, and were making the finishing touches to our fourth location in Mirdif.

We’ve won awards – most notably being named Time Out Dubai’s Best Steakhouse 2022 –
and we wouldn’t, and couldn’t, have done any of it without the tribe of hungry hunters
gathering at our tables each and every day.

Managing Director Rob de Villers shares a few of the highs and hurdles of Hunter & Barrel’s first year in the UAE.

Did you always believe Hunter & Barrel would work in the UAE?

Yes, from day one. Steakhouses have always been popular here, but we aimed to provide amazing quality at a fairer price. We wanted to offer an unpretentious, yet sophisticated environment, loaded with an energetic ambience.

What is the biggest difference between the UAE and Australian restaurants?

The UAE dining scene, particularly Dubai, has been pushing design and décor boundaries for years, and we knew Hunter & Barrel could be no different.

What have been the hardest aspects of opening four Hunter & Barrel UAE properties in one year?

There have been multiple challenges: too many to list! The pandemic, its knock-on effects,
and protecting our people. Our staff are incredibly important to us, and building those
relationships at an accelerated pace can strain the best of businesses. We have been
fortunate though to have an amazing team around us, both locally and in Australia, even
whilst they have been unable to travel.

What would you say is your biggest ‘rule to live by’ as you have expanded?

We have a ‘no compromise’ policy when it comes to sourcing the very best meat cuts and
quality ingredients.

Finally, tell us every item you’d pick for the perfect Hunter & Barrel meal?

Hunter’s Sharing Platter never fails – and how could it with our Open Fire Prawns, Smoky Chicken Wings, Three Cheese Dip and Spicy Calamari combined? Easily the 300g Wagyu Rump with chunky chips and house chilli sauce for the main dish, and for dessert, our Choc Walnut Brownie is a must!

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