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  • Writer's pictureHunger Leads

HUNTER & BARREL | Premium Steak House Restaurant

At Hunger Leads, we realise that opening a restaurant of any size is a gargantuan challenge. Therefore, our aim is to support the venues we’ve truly enjoyed, and spread the word about the great food they offer.

On the flip side, we don’t usually post negative reviews, because we don’t like to trash anyone’s honest efforts, even if we haven’t enjoyed the experience. However, when it’s obvious that a venue is really pulling out all the stops to deliver something above and beyond, but falling short somehow, we feel like some honest and constructive criticism goes a long way.

So here we go…

The Hunter & Barrel Menu

First impressions of Hunter and Barrel are great, and really raise expectations. The website is well-designed, and they have a strong social media presence which is what alerted us to the venue in the first place. After making a booking and perusing the menu online, we were thoroughly looking forward to our visit.

Walking into the venue only elevates the anticipation – it’s stylish, yet inviting, and bustling with guests in the cosy bar, lounge and dining areas. You’re greeted warmly by the friendly and professional staff, and shown to a comfy table with nice, moody lighting. So far, so good.

Now to the food. To start with we ordered the Open Fire Prawns, which come lightly battered with Togarashi dip and chilli powder, and the Three Cheese Dip, with melted Gouda, Gruyere & Edam and warm pita bread for scooping.

Open Fire Prawns

The prawns were ok. Described as ‘lightly battered’, they resembled more a half-hearted tempura than anything that had been near an open fire. They looked nothing like the tempting picture online, and the batter wasn’t crispy at all. A little spice from the chilli powder might have added some zing, if there had been any.

Even more disappointing was the Three Cheese Dip. We were expecting a rich, creamy, fragrant dip with perhaps a touch of garlic and a zesty dash of white wine. What came instead was a bland goop, and the pita bread was so dry it just broke up when you tried to dip it.

Three Cheese Dip

We were by now really rooting for the mains to put things back on track. We couldn’t resist the Lobster Fettucine, with fresh handmade pasta, lobster medallions and a bisque sauce. And for the steak, it came down to a choice between two rib-eyes, the 350 g Aussie Angus, or the 350 g Wagyu, which was only AED60 more. So of course, we went for the Wagyu, and to be honest, there aren’t many places in Dubai where you can get a Wagyu rib-eye for AED280, so in that respect, it was great value.

For the sides, we went with the Charred Corn, which comes with Harissa sauce, capsicum and red onion, and the Sauteed Oyster Mushrooms with crispy garlic, parsley and thyme.

Charred Corn
Sauteed Oyster Mushrooms

Sadly, it was more of the same. The Sauteed Oyster Mushrooms were undercooked and under-seasoned, and just generally bland, which good sauteed mushrooms should NEVER be! The corn was clearly pre-steamed cobs that had been grilled for a bit, which is fine (we do that ourselves), as long as you give the corn a good flame roasting with lots of salt and butter to really wake up those flavours. Unfortunately, in this case, it looked like the corns had just been given a perfunctory slap on the grill to justify the ‘Charred Corn’ moniker, and they were dry and under-seasoned.

We ended up sending the mushrooms and corn back, such was our disappointment.

The Lobster Fettucine was ok, but not great. While there were a couple of sizeable chunks of tender lobster in there, the bisque was no way near as rich and vibrant as it should’ve been. As for the Wagyu, thankfully there’s no arguing, it was a good steak. Tender and cooked well, it was definitely the highlight of the meal. But then, a Wagyu is very hard to get wrong.

Lobster Fettucine
350 g Wagyu Rib-eye Steak and Salad

But here’s the thing: You can get a ‘good steak’ in a hundred places in Dubai. We can do a ‘good steak’ at home on the BBQ (well, a GREAT one actually!). It’s in all the trimmings where the restaurant must stand out, and unfortunately, in Hunter and Barrel’s case, the quality in no way meets the expectations, or the price bracket. Overall, the food was bland, and none of the flavours really ‘popped’, or stood out as memorable. You could’ve had a meal of a similar quality for far less in a mall. Which is unfortunate, because in a market as competitive as Dubai, a flashy venue and good service will only get you so far.

To be perfectly honest, the best part of the evening for us was a superb and reasonably priced Argentinian Malbec Reserva that we will definitely be hunting for in the liquor shops…

Argentinian Malbec Reserva

Come on guys, raise your game. We WANT you to rock it, because we want a good premium steakhouse that truly delivers in our ‘hood! We will be back at some point with cautious optimism, but if the experience is the same, it’ll be the last time.

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