Burger Review: Smoke House

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Smoke House is a place I heard about recently from a friend. They opened up just two months ago in Mahboula and I posted about them a few days ago. Everyone who visited the place had good things to say about it so I got there with high expectations only to feel let down once I saw the place.

Smoke House is a very tiny restaurant with a very lame looking exterior and a pretty uninspiring interior. There is no love at first sight here more like what the frak brought me to this place! I passed by with a friend of mine and when we arrived 2 out of the 4 tables were occupied. We sat down and were greeted by a very friendly waitress and were given the menus to look over. I quickly decided to go with a chili cheese fries for starters, a Smoke House Burger (medium well) with cheese for my main dish and a side order of mashed potatoes with gravy. My friend ordered the lamb chops with a side order of coleslaw and sweet corn and butter. For drinks I decided to order root beer since I noticed one of the other diners was drinking root beer out of an A&W root beer jug so I decided I would have one also.

My burger arrived awhile later and I was totally shocked. It had to be the best burger presentation I had ever seen and I don’t mean just in Kuwait. The plate had a very gourmet like presentation to it and the burger looked very appetizing, I quickly took my shots before I bit into the burger. The burger didn’t come with any lettuce or tomatoes just a bit of thinly sliced onions and cheese. I think I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t think lettuce or tomatoes belong in a good burger, it takes away from the flavor which in this case was great. The patty was thick (not too thick) and very juicy. The bun was soft, looked wonderful and although was surrounded by some juice when it arrived it wasn’t soggy. The only negative thing about my burger was the fact the cheese wasn’t melted properly.

I went to Smoke House expecting a good burger but I didn’t expect this. I’ve decided to give this burger a 4.5 out of 5 making it the highest rated burger in my burger challenge so far. The root beer I ordered by the way tasted like crap. Turns out they weren’t using A&W root beer just their mugs but the waitress was nice enough to swap it with a regular coke and I wasn’t charged for the root beer. Other than that issue the sweet corn and butter was great, the coleslaw was very good, my friend’s lamb chops were supposedly also delicious and the quantity was huge. For dessert I had an apple pie and I ended up really liking that too. They really need a nicer and much larger place but according to the waitress if they do good for 6 months then they will be opening up a bigger place which makes good sense. The prices are also very affordable if anything maybe a bit under priced and I liked the way they dealt with my complaint, very professional. I’m actually going back there tomorrow with another friend and I am going to try and convince myself to have something other than the burger, maybe their Philly cheese steak. Good stuff.

Smokehouse is located in Mahboula
The cost of the Smokehouse Cheeseburger is KD1.950


Update:
It seems they’ve changed their burger! Not sure why anyone would do this but their new burger doesn’t taste the same as the one in the review.


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Burger Review: The Butcher Shop

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
A friend recommended I try The Butcher Shop burger for my Burger Challenge so I passed by a few nights ago to give it a shot. I’ve been to the Dubai branch before but haven’t been to the Kuwait branch one since they launched so I was looking forward to it especially since my friend told me their burger was “amazing”.

I passed by The Butcher Shop the night there was the big dust storm so they only had two tables occupied. All of Avenues was empty which I actually found pretty cool. I quickly flipped through their menu looking for the burger section and then told the waitress I would have the cheese burger medium well and a coke to go with it. It was around 8pm and I hadn’t eaten a single thing all day since I was busy with work so I was really looking forward to the burger.

The burger arrived shortly thereafter and to my disappointment it didn’t look very appetizing. The presentation was pretty dull and I actually had a hard time taking a good shot to use with this post. Looks aren’t everything of course and I was hoping the taste would make up for the presentation. It didn’t surprisingly. The bottom of the bun was very soggy while the top bun was dry. The patty although thick and tender didn’t have any flavor. It was a really boring burger even though it was the only thing I had eaten that day.

The cost of the burger is KD2.950 which is fairly decent for a place like The Butcher Shop but I wouldn’t have it again. I was thinking of giving it a 3 out of 5 but the fact that I was extremely hungry without food all day and still managed to find the burger unsatisfying and flavorless dropped it down another half point to 2.5 out of 5. If you’re at the Avenues and are looking for a good burger have Johnny Rockets or Ruby Tuesday instead.

The Butcher Shop is located at The Avenues
The cost of the Cheese Burger is KD2.950

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Papa John’s Burgers
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
The Burger Hub
The Little Oven
Wimpy


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Review: easyHotel Paddington

Posted by Mark

Last year when I traveled to London and Paris I found the hotels to be very expensive. They ate away a large chunk of the vacation money along with the plane tickets. This year with the cheap British Airways tickets there was a good chance the hotel budget would even exceed the cost of the plane tickets so I started searching for a solution. I needed an affordable hotel that had the following:

- Internet Access
- Location close to Oxford Street
- Location close to underground
- Cleanliness
- Security
- Modern looking

I found a ton of cheap hotels in London but none fit all my criteria and majority had gotten negative reviews on TripAdvisor.com. By chance I found out about a new easyHotel branch that had opened up in Paddington late last year and most if not all the reviews online were positive.

easyHotel is a no frills super budget hotel. To keep its prices down the rooms contain only two very essential things.. a bed and a bathroom. Thats it. No closet, side table, shelves, carpet, phone, mini bar, or anything else non essential. There is a flat screen TV but you have to pay for the remote control and thats the only amenity. According to the reviews online the hotel was very clean and in an excellent location so I decided to give it a shot. Four nights cost me only KD79 which is around KD20 a night. Compared to KD60 a night I paid for a normal room in an average 3 star hotel last year, this was a steal.

I took the regular subway from the airport to the hotel. It was around a 45 minute journey. I had an Oyster card which I recharged to use for a whole week (zone 1 & 2) so I paid only 1.5 pounds to take me from Heathrow to Paddington station which is a 2 minute walk from the hotel. If you don’t have an Oyster card the cost is around 4 pounds for a ticket.

When I arrived to the hotel I was given a choice of either a room on the 3rd floor or one in the basement. Since I wanted a bit of sun light I opted for the 3rd floor room. This meant I had to carry two bags (mine and Nat’s) up 3 flights of stairs since the hotel doesn’t have a lift. The bags were light on arrival so that wasn’t a problem but after all the shopping the bags more than doubled in weight so carrying them back down was exhausting and I nearly busted my knee. Once we got to the room I was actually impressed. Yes, the room is very tiny but it was spotless and bright. There was barely enough room to fit two bags side by side on the floor at the foot of the bed but even without any bags two people can’t move around the room very freely.

I liked the room and I really liked the hotel. I don’t think I can stay in the room for more than five days and with all the shopping we practically filled up all the floor space with bags but it was actually fun. We would get to the room late, watch a bit of TV, sleep, wake up early, leave the room and not come back until it was very late again. So really the room was serving its purpose. They had a special offer and gave us the TV remote control for free, there was also cheap wifi at 20pounds for a weeks use, AC/Heating was available surprisingly and best of all the hotel is a 2 minute walk from Paddington station and around 6 buses from Oxford Street stop right in front of the hotel. The hotel staff were also very friendly and helpful. Last day we were planning to take the Heathrow Express to the airport (16 pounds for a one way ticket) when the hotel employee advised us to take the Heathrow Connect (approx 6 pounds for a one way ticket). Turns out the Heathrow Connect is around 15 minutes slower but less than half the price so even more savings!

The final score I would give the hotel is a 4 out of 5. Its a very very excellent value hotel, just be prepared not to expect much from it in terms of size and amenities. I highly recommend it and will definitely be staying there again myself.


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Burger Review: Papa John’s Burgers

Posted by Mark


The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Surprise surprise, yes the Burger Challenge is still on. I’ve got a few places I still need to try out before I end this but I’ve been very busy (i.e. lazy) so I haven’t been able to get around to it. Anyway two people previously commented that I should try out this burger place in Al Manshar mall so I decided to pass by today and see what it was about.

First lets get the weird part out of the way. The place doesn’t have a name. I don’t know how that’s even legally possible! How could a place not have a name? I asked the employee what the place was called and her reply was that they don’t have a name but that it belongs to the same owners of Papa Johns Pizza. I think that’s very strange but I have a theory on why it doesn’t have a name which I will share later on in this post. For now though I’ve decided to call the place “Papa John’s Burgers”. Cheesy I know but its there fault for not coming up with one themselves and I need a name for this post.

Their burger surprisingly turned out to be really good. I had a cheeseburger combo with an extra cheeseburger on the side and although I wasn’t expecting to like it I actually ended up loving it. Their beef patties are ground fresh every morning and their buns are very McDonalds Fillet-O-Fish like so the end result is pretty similar to Johnny Rockets except for one thing, the sauce. The sauce they put with the burger is wayy better than anything I’ve had at Johnny Rockets, its kinda like the Rocket Single sauce except better.

Now the bad news. Their patties are pretty thin and I think that has to do with the price since their cheeseburger costs only 650fils. The result is too little meat for the bun, it looks kinda ok in the picture above but thats because I actually pulled the meat out so it would show in the picture. If it had double the patty it might have been a strong competitor for best burger in Kuwait but its not so I rate this burger a 3.5 out of 5.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way I can talk about other things not related to the review. First of all the price, its unbelievably cheap! Imagine a Johnny Rockets burger for only 650fils because that’s exactly what this is! A combo consisting of cheeseburger, fries and coke is only KD1.100! Thats cheaper than McDonalds and even cheaper than Naif! Their location really sucks, they’re located on the mezzanine floor of Fun Ahoy (an arcade/themepark) right next to Papa John’s Pizza. Which brings me to my theory on why the place doesn’t have a name. The owners of Papa John’s also own Fuddruckers so my theory is they needed a cheap burger place to serve the kids at Fun Ahoy so they probably use the same meat that they use at Fuddruckers and also have Fudds make their buns. Now legally I don’t think they can own another burger brand since they have Fudds so they just opened this random place that serves burgers and doesn’t have a name. Its only a theory of course so don’t take my word for it. If you do end up passing by which you should, be sure to do so in the middle of the week when there won’t be much kids around.

Papa John’s Burger is located in Al Manshar Mall in Fahaheel.
The cost of the Cheese Burger is KD0.650

Here are the burger places I’ve reviewed so far:
Applebee’s
Bredz
Burger Boutique
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Gaucho Gril
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Prime & Toast
Ruby Tuesday
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
The Burger Hub
The Little Oven
Wimpy


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Review: Wok Master

Posted by Mark

Wok Master

Wok Master is a tiny Chinese take away and delivery place I found out about just 3 days back. I got an email from the owner of the place last week asking me to try it but I didn’t think it would interesting so I ignored him (yes I know, its not nice). The owner emailed me again and I replied the second time asking if the place had dine in. He replied saying no it didn’t so I replied apologizing telling him the only food I ordered delivery was either Papa Johns or Hardees. So the owner gave up and passed me the home delivery phone number and address in case I ever got interested. Thats when he grabbed my attention. Wok Master turned out to be just two streets away from where I live which made things interesting so I decided to give the place a shot.

Yesterday night I passed by and ordered sweet & sour chicken and plain fried rice. The place was easy to find and it looked very clean but I really wasn’t expecting much from the food. When I got home and opened the package I was caught by surprise. The sweet & sour chicken looked amazing. The sauce was a nice red color and looked pretty thick which is exactly how I like it. I quickly mixed my chicken with the rice and dug in and it was actually really good. I was so impressed I passed by and picked up dinner again tonight. This time I had the Manchurian chicken and plain fried rice while Nat decided to try their shrimp noodles. Well it looks like I am probably going to pass by again for dinner tomorrow evening and try something else since everything I’ve had so far I’ve liked.

I didn’t have any major issues with the place. Their menu is pretty ugly and has over a hundred dishes listed (where is Gordon Ramsey to see this). The packaging was ok, the rice and noodles came in those typical Chinese food packaging while the chicken plates came in the less impressive aluminum foil dishes. One thing i noticed tonight is that they charged me 950fils for the rice although in the menu it says it should be 750. Which brings me to their prices. They’re pretty decent, the sweet & sour chicken and the Manchurian chicken each cost KD1.950 while the shrimp noodles costs KD1.750. Overall I really like the place and I love how out of no where its suddenly became one of my favorite Chinese places in Kuwait. And its right next door! For the final score they’re going to get a 4 out of 5 from me.

To order from Wok Master call them on 5750081
They’re located right behind Kuwaitana restaurant on Baghdad street which is nearly right in front of La Baguette .


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Burger Review: Gaucho Grill

Posted by Mark

Gaucho Burger
The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
Houston we have a problem! When I first started this burger challenge I thought it was going to be a pretty easy task but now that I am approaching the end I’ve realized I am going to have a difficult situation on my hands.. who to crown the winner. Originally at the start of the challenge I anticipated either Fuddruckers or Burger Boutique would win but as it stands both of them are out of the picture and its Burger Hub and Slider Station that are currently rated the highest. So I had my hopes in the Gaucho Grill burger to make my decision easier and it didn’t.

Gaucho Menu

I’ve only been to Gaucho Grill during the evening but for the burger challenge I’ve been trying to have the burgers during the day so that I could have decent pictures to attach to the reviews. Gaucho Grill during the day is a completely different experience, its quieter, emptier and of course much more brighter. There was only another table occupied so finding a place near the window wasn’t a problem.

Once I got the menu I flipped through it till I got to the burger section and decided I would order the Gaucho Burger with Roasted Mushrooms and Cheese (medium well). I ordered a side order of baked potato but no appetizers since I have yet to try any appetizer at Gaucho Grill that I liked. The burger arrived soon after and my first impression was whats up with the bread? The bread didn’t look very appetizing and actually looked a bit burnt so that put me off. But, once I took a bite I realized the bread in fact wasn’t as bad as it looked and the beef patty was actually really good. The burger was very juicy and the thickness of the patty was perfect. The burger came with lettuce, tomatoes etc.. on the side and thats where I kept them because the burger really didn’t need them. The bread although as you can see in the picture was slightly burnt on the edges really didn’t bother me much and it was crunchy or anything of the sort. I do think though that if they had used a better kind of bread this burger could have been the winner.

While thinking of what to score this burger I considered the fact if I’ve been too hard with my ratings. I tried some incredible burgers and so far the highest score has been a 4 out of 5. I was actually starting to believe that I’ve been too hard until I realized there was one burger I had that I would have given a 4.5 but that burger isn’t in Kuwait sadly. While I was in Jordan back in April I had the most amazing burger at the Four Seasons hotel. I think it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. I truthfully don’t think I could give a burger a perfect 5 out of 5 but at least I know I could give a 4.5 rating if needed be. The Gaucho Burger although a great burger was let down by the bread and if it wasn’t for that I do think it could have gotten a higher score. The final score is another 4 out of 5. There are only two or three more places I still need to try out so there is still hope that a burger in Kuwait will get higher than a 4.

Gaucho Grill is located at The Palms
The cost of the Gaucho Burger with Roasted Mushrooms
and Cheese is KD6.750


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Burger Review: Burger Boutique

Posted by Mark

Burger Boutique
The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge

My favorite person to go out eating with is Choowy Goowy guy since we both have similar tastes in food and all his recommendations usually leave me with a happy stomach. Yesterday we decided to pass by and have lunch at Burger Boutique, I hadn’t been there since Slider Station opened and since I am finishing up the Burger Challenge it was on my to do list.

It wasn’t easy trying to choose a burger to have. I’ve had nearly all their burgers before and they were all great but for the burger challenge I need to choose just one. I decided to go with one of their new burgers which came highly recommended, the Madison. I’ve had it before as a slider at Slider Station and loved it so I couldn’t wait to try the burger version.

Burger Boutique

The Madison’s ingredients are a chargrilled rib eye infused beef patty, processed American cheddar, pickles and west coast sauce. I ordered mine without pickles and fries as my side dish.

I love how Burger Boutiques burgers look like and the Madison is no exception. Although a simple burger the presentation was very appetizing with a great looking bun and nicely melted cheese on what looked like a perfectly sized patty. But not all was perfect. Although I loved the Madison slider I don’t think it works well as a full sized burger. I had the same issue with their Midnight slider, it was one of my favorite sliders but when I had it as a full fledged burger it didn’t come out as good. I think the sauce is great in small quantities but once you have a lot of it then it becomes a bit too heavy. The bun was excellent though and their beef patty is seriously one of the best.

I think Slider Station which also belongs to the same owners raised the bar on burgers in Kuwait and now a good burger just doesn’t cut it anymore. I am giving the Madison a 3.5 out of 5 which is still a really good score but just not as high as I was expecting it to get. I think the Madison is one of the best looking burgers so far in this challenge, I will definitely be having it again… but as a slider.

Burger Boutique is located in Alraya Mall
The cost of the Madison Burger is KD2.950


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Burger Review: Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Posted by Mark

gourmet burger kitchen
The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
It’s been a while since my last burger review and I was hoping to start it off again with a great burger but that didn’t happen. I passed by Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) today for lunch, it was my first time and probably my last.

Their burger menu is pretty big with lots of different styles to choose from. I asked the waitress what their most popular burger was and she told me it was the Cajun Burger. She also told me they had a special offer now where they gave away a drink and fries with the burger. I thought that was cool and I went ahead and ordered it.

gourmet burger kitchen

The Cajun Burger is made up of Black-Angus beef, smoked chili mayo, salad, and Cajun relish. It didn’t take too long to arrive and at first glance it was disappointing. The burger looked very dry and unappetizing while the bread itself looked very poor and thin. It didn’t get any better from there. Once I had my first bite I realized that although looks can be deceiving, it wasn’t in this case. The burger didn’t taste good, the Cajun relish was slightly sweet and I didn’t think it went well with the chili mayo while the bun was the worst part. The upper half of the bun was very thin and was breaking apart while I was having the burger as if it was old. The burger was also pretty messy to eat which didn’t make things any better.

For a place like GBK which specializes in burgers its strange that their buns are so bad. Maybe GBK is a popular place in London but with strong local creations like The Burger Hub and Slider Station, GBK doesn’t have a chance here. I gave the burger a 1.5 out of 5. The burger patty was good but everything else around it wasn’t.

GBK is located in The Avenues and Marina Mall
The cost of the Cajun Burger is KD2.950


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Burger Review: The Burger Hub

Posted by Mark

The Burger Hub
The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
The Burger Hub is another one of those places I never tried because I absolutely hated their branding. With places like Burger Boutique and Slider Station, the bar has been raised when it comes to the design of burger joints in Kuwait and the fact that Burger Boutique and Slider Station are local creations just like Burger Hub means there is no excuse for bad design. If we put aside the ugly logo, placemats and the confusing menu, whats up with the interior design? Its just really awful, and the bathrooms are even worse. The whole thing put together just makes it look like Burger Hub were trying really hard to be different and stylish but the result just makes them look like wannabes. Having Slider Station a few doors down isn’t helping either. One thing they got right and the most important aspect of this review though was their burger.

According to their placemat their most popular burger was the La Rose Burger which consists of the beef burger covered with caramelized onions, mushroom sauce and swiss cheese. So I placed an order for that with a side order of fries and waited. When the burger arrived I wasn’t impressed by the presentation. It came in a small metal pan that had white paper on the bottom and the burger on the top which looked pretty cheap.

The Burger Hub

I really came into the place already with a negative impression and nothing there was really helping me change my mind until I started eating the burger. Wow what a shock. Everything about the place was telling me this burger was going to suck but it was just delicious. When I first saw the bread I expected it to be hard but it turned out to be very soft and although the burger was really juicy, the bread never got soggy. The beef patty also tasted great while the mushroom sauce wasn’t overdone and the cheese was just right. I couldn’t believe I was not only liking the burger but loving it.

But not all is perfect, before I could really start to enjoy the burger I had already finished it. I guess for a 12 year old girl on an Atkins diet the burger is actually a good size but for me I wished it was ever so slightly bigger. I also wished the onions were more caramelized since some of it still tasted raw. Overall though the burger was really impressive and thats why I am giving it a 4 out of 5 which actually ties it in first place with their neighbors, Slider Station. I will definitely be going back again, they have a really large collection of burgers which I think I am going to have fun going through. Now if only they can revamp their identity.

The Burger Hub is located on the Gulf Road opposite Seef Palace.
The cost of the La Rose Burger was KD2.600


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Burger Review: Applebee’s

Posted by Mark

Applebee\'s Burger
The Best Burger in Kuwait Challenge
I’ve never liked Applebee’s because I never had a good experience there. Whatever I ordered I ended up hating and their menu just didn’t have as much variety as I wanted. Yesterday I passed by for the first time in over a year ago and things have changed considerably since my last visit. The menu has a lot more interesting stuff on it and probably the most shocking thing of all, I actually left the place satisfied and thinking about going back.

They had four burgers on their menu but I decided to go with the cheese burger since the other options were a classic burger with no cheese, a cheese burger with bacon, and the last burger was I think a Hawaiian burger with Pineapple (gross!). All the burgers are made using a 100% Angus Beef and cooked medium well.

My burger arrived 10-15 minutes after placing my order and after a few bites I realized that although the Applebee’s burger isn’t good enough to be a contender for the top spot, it was a pretty good burger. It tasted and smelled like it was grilled on a backyard barbecue which is a good thing because barbecued burgers always taste good. The burger was not super thick but was still very juicy and the cheese melted perfectly. Now one thing I found weird although it didn’t have an effect on the taste was that it felt like I was biting into a steak and not a burger. I don’t know if thats normal with Angus beef but it just felt weird.

Overall though there wasn’t much wrong with the burger. It didn’t have this “oh I need to have another one right now” taste to it which is why it didn’t score any higher. But it did score pretty high because I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5 which puts it inline with the Fuddruckers burger. That alone is an achievement.

Applebee’s is located on the Gulf Road, Mishref and Souk Sharq.
The cost of the Angus Cheese Burger was KD2.150

Previously Reviewed:
Bredz
Fuddruckers
Hashi
Johnny Rockets
Munch
Prime & Toast
Slider Station
Sheraton Hotel
The Little Oven
Wimpy


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