If you like the idea of slurping milkshakes with your burger in a retro-style diner, B+F may very well become your favourite new hangout, says Penny Fray
Cool times are guaranteed at B+F Roadside Diner, a well-established hip hangout in Bareeq Al Shatti mall. The vibe is part-restaurant, part-teen lair, with neon signs, a heaving crowd and retro designer details such as a 1950s car.
This place is seriously popular with those in the know, and those in the know seem to be mostly trendy young things in jeans and expensive trainers. You could be in America – except for the posse of gorgeous girls in black abayas giving the game away.
In theory, I love this Kuwaiti franchise for its fashionable feel. The industrial styling is everywhere, including the very snazzy looking menus and kitchen area. It’s an upmarket McDonald’s by any other name. Plus, as a committed carnivore who isn’t bothered about greasy fingers or furred-up arteries, I’m quite partial to a patty or two.
The only problem with this place is that it makes you feel old – like mutton dining down as lamb. I ought to have gone to Slider Station, its grown-up sister restaurant, as B+F is clearly reserved for young Omanis, not 30-something expats – a point clearly illustrated by the irritated glares of those around me. The smiling staff, on the other hand, couldn’t have been more welcoming, efficiently handing over menus while also wiping tables.
The choice of drinks and dishes available on the funkily designed menu verged on the overwhelming – and while few phrases strike fear into a foodie’s heart like a gourmet burger – the list was impressive by virtue of its creativity and quality ingredients. Most of the more expensive joints came from Australia, and whilst not necessarily organic, the provenance looked good.
My friend, a milkshake connoisseur, loved the fact that they had everything from Malteser to Oreo flavoured froth. After a lot of ‘ooing’ and ‘aahing’ she eventually went for the white chocolate and peanut butter milkshake, while I had the berry and banana smoothie. Parched, we weren’t impressed by the wait. But to be fair, the waitress had asked whether we wanted everything together and assumed that our nods meant drinks too. When Kate’s shake eventually arrived, she cooed over its deliciousness, rubbing in the fact that I was yet to receive my fruity concoction. Despite the constant reminders, it arrived almost 15 minutes after I had ordered it.
Thankfully, there were no such tedious delays over the mains, which included a rib-eye steak and chicken club sandwich.
A fractured wrist meant that I had to play nurse and carve-up my companion’s meat. Thankfully, despite being well done, it sliced beautifully with minimum fat, gristle or effort. The potatoes were more smashed than mashed but tasted good nonetheless, while I was well satisfied with my poultry sandwich. My only complaint is that it may have been a little paltry in size because I was still hungry afterwards. No such issue with the fries though, which generously filled the whole bowl.
Our only real mistake of the evening was foregoing starters in favour of what looked like a super special dessert menu. But alas! Everything we asked for was unavailable, forcing us to sample the apple pie and chocolate moon-sliders instead. And oh, how I wished I hadn’t been lured in by my sweet tooth because the pie was clearly a defrosted number. It looked and tasted manufactured. Kate thought the same about her tasteless crêpe – although the combination of chocolate and fresh strawberries gave it a bit of much needed oomph. If I hadn’t inherited her extra scoop of vanilla, I probably wouldn’t have been able to eat my pie’s extra dry pastry. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise good meal.
Cool Americana joint with great value food and friendly service – just a pity they ran out of the desserts we wanted
B+F Roadside Diner
61 Bareeq Al Shatti Mall, Shatti Al Qurum
Price: RO21 for two people (including drinks)