Restaurant Review: RSVP in Boxpark

Old-world French eatery in a fresh setting…

Sitting within Dubai’s copy-paste Shoreditch recreation that is Boxpark lies a new restaurant totally at odds with its location, and all the better for it. RSVP eschews the cafés and restaurant chains we know so well, in favour of an upscale DIFC feel. You could be inside a classy bistro in Paris, with the marble table tops, customised napkins, and elegant artwork displayed on its walls.

The mood is a nice surprise alone. The unlicensed restaurant is full on a Tuesday night, though we probably shouldn’t be so surprised. RSVP is fully curated and managed by Atelier House Hospitality, the firm behind Michelin-starred 11 Woodfire, award-winning DIFC restaurant Marea, and the popular homegrown concept Mohalla.

RSVP

At RSVP, Atelier’s fifth restaurant opening, the food combines the elegance of an old-world French eatery – hence the ‘repondez, s’il vous plait’ name – with subtle influences of Asian flavours. Spearheaded by Aadel Ouaoua, a chef de cuisine with a considerable Michelin-starred background, offers a menu of regional French delicacies interspersed with unusual oriental dishes. A portion of escargot, for example, bookends the hot starters with chicken spring rolls. “My inspiration comes from my extensive travels across the globe and my love for French-Mediterranean cuisine combined with a deep affection for Japanese culinary techniques. Marrying these three elements results in RSVP’s unique offering,” explains chef Aadel.

RSVP-Stracciatella

The creamy cheese stracciatelle dip (Dhs40) topped with a tomato compote and basil oil is a lovely starter, great for mopping up with the homemade VP bread (Dhs18) served as a crunchy French stick. The tuna and avocado tartare (Dhs95) is a perfect mix of blue fin tuna chunks, sesame, and well-seasoned guacamole topped with shredded nori.

RSVP-LAMB CHOPS

The charcoal smoked lamb chops (Dhs230), served to the table in a delightful oval pan, rivalled LPM’s famous dish. The meat was thick and tender while the sticky jus with teriyaki sauce packed umami flavour. Dipping RSVP’s superb homemade French fries (Dhs35) into the lamb chops’ jus counts as one of our favourite dining moments in Dubai this year.

Ending with the fondant au chocolat (Dhs60) and its chocolate crumble base may be a little too fluffy for pedants, but by this point you’ve been well-fed and generally swept up in the joie de vivre of it all.

What’s On verdict: Upscale, unlicensed restaurants can be surprisingly fun and delicious, and RSVP is proof.

RSVP, Boxpark, Al Wasl Road, Tue to Sun 7pm to 11.30pm (closed Mon). Tel: (0)4 265 5007. @rsvprestaurant

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