Paul Stewart, general manager at The Duck Hook and Hillhouse Brasserie, discusses his venues’ approach to the pandemic, and keeping customers coming back for more.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
My hospitality career, which spans more than a decade, has seen me work across both the UK and UAE, having been born and raised in Edinburgh. In my current position as general manager at The Duck Hook and Hillhouse Brasserie, I lead the front-of-house team and manage customer experiences in tandem with Head Chef Tony Jardella, who oversees the kitchens at both venues.
Working in hospitality, you have to be personable, and this is the part of the job that I enjoy the most. Being able to create relationships with our regular guests, tourists as well as first-time diners, and encouraging a culture among the team to do the same is extremely rewarding.
The experience I gained overseeing Asia Asia Restaurant & Lounge, as well as Karma Kafé, has provided an in-depth understanding of the local F&B industry, allowing me to deliver exceptional experiences to all our guests across both venues.
Tell us about The Duck Hook and Hillhouse Brasserie.
The Duck Hook and Hillhouse Brassiere opened their doors within the heart of Dubai Hills, at the Dubai Hills Golf Club in December 2018. The Duck Hook, a country pursuits-styled gastropub, has been tremendously successful in attracting golfers and Dubai residents looking for an authentic British culinary experience. It’s a taste of home for me, and we’re proud to have created this same feeling for our guests.
On the other hand, Hillhouse Brasserie is a chic, casual, all-day eatery and community hangout offering great coffee, delicious food and a family-friendly atmosphere. Both venues share an expansive outdoor area which is great for the al fresco season and is also pet-friendly. We have even construct tepees and seating areas on the grass for the little ones to enjoy the outdoors during the cooler months.
Talk us through the menu offerings.
The Duck Hook’s traditional British fare includes favourite dishes such as our duck scotch egg, battered fish and chips, steak and ale pie – and the outlet’s revered daily ‘roast with the most’ packages.
We have also recently launched an all-new, revolving menu of weekly ‘Best of British’ specials, where diners can expect rotating starter, main and dessert options every day. Our menu has also expanded with options such as smoked haddock, chicken and duck liver pâté, cheesy chicken kiev and a toad in the giant hole.
At Hillhouse Brasserie, we will soon reopen our doors and welcome back Dubai residents with offerings to keep them entertained every night of the week. We also recently provided guests with a preview of our festive menu, which will be launching in December, and was very well-received.
Delivery was never part of The Duck Hook experience; can you tell us a little more about how the pandemic has changed that?
During the height of the lockdown, there was huge demand to bring our dining experience to residents’ homes. Our initial move was to offer roasts over Easter, only to address the fact people were unable to visit their usual jaunts, but due to increased enquiries it has become a delivery staple.
The recently launched delivery service uses fully compostable packaging and delivers the roast par-cooked with only finishing touches required at home, meaning families can tuck into the roast with all the trimmings with minimal fuss. We will be expanding this ahead of the festive season with a roasted takeaway delivery, too.”
What new experiences can diners expect in the future?
Diners are increasingly looking towards health-conscious lifestyles, with veganism becoming extremely popular. You regularly see new offerings being introduced by various restaurants to cash in on these trends.
However, for us, this is not a trend and we have worked with our customers to introduce an all-inclusive approach which addresses our customers’ dietary preferences: this includes providing increased vegan options across our menus in the near future.