Monday, April 29, 2013

pickles

pickles
bidaa, near the movenpick hotel

what was consumed: classic burger with extra tomatoes and extra lettuce, chili cheese curly fries, classic poutin, "bread&butter" fried pickle chips

kuwaiti burger challenge ... the challenge continues!

before a quick weekend jaunt to muscat, friends and i got together for dinner at "pickles." i happy not only to continue my "Q8 burger challenge," but also to enjoy fried pickles (who doesn't enjoy that?). so, we fought through thursday (the new friday) night traffic and head to the movenpick area in bidaa. note: we didn't get the memo inviting bikers (mostly sport vehicles, not harleys (harlies?), sadly ... ?) to the movenpick/bidaa area. and so, we had dinner with what felt like a billion bikers (it was probably closer to 30. that's a lot!).

the pickles menu, while simple (burgers, fries, pickled stuff), there were a few variations within each category (e.g. bbq burger, mexican burger, mushroom&swiss burger, etc.) which allowed for each of us to satisfy our cravings. i went the classic route - classic burger and classic poutin.

the burger was nicely cooked, though cooked "well done" when i asked for it to be medium (silly me for making that request to begin with). i also asked for no cheese, but my burger came with it (which is fine). i was more concerned about it coming out with no sauce, which it didn't (success!). the burger was served on a soft roll which stayed in tact and didn't fall apart as buns have a tendency to do. otherwise, the burger was exactly what i was looking for - simple and plain.

as for the poutin ... admittedly, i ordered it because i was curious what i would get. while i haven't actually had 'real' poutin a la canada (one day, i say, one day!), i've heard about it and have a good idea what it should taste like (& look forward eventually to tasting it, myself), i will continue my quest to find it outside america's neighbor to the north.

but ooooh, fried pickles! totally delicious. the "bread&butter" ones were sliced, like chips,   breaded and then fried. the pickles are totally delicious and the breading is a nice touch. they were accompanied by a delicious aioli (which we proceeded to smear on everythign else). i'm not sure about the "midget pickles" that are also on the menu; i'll have to try them next time.

we did try to order plain pickles (i.e., the ones that are not fried). why, you ask? why not! i blame t, but admittedly, the pre-fried pickles were pretty delicious as well. the servers, however, told us that they didn't have any, which made no sense. what do you use, then, to make the fried pickles?! of course, they were able to produce them later on. and i was 2-seconds away from doing what i do when i'm at 'matchbox' back in wdc (ordering bowl after bowl after bowl of pickles. nom nom nom).

and so, while i will likely venture to pickles again, for their fried pickles and for a classic burger, i do caution you : their special sauces (& their gravy for that matter) are ... sweet. not "whoa, awesome!" sweet, but "hmmm, why is there a strange sweetness?" sweet. weird ...

Monday, April 22, 2013

coco room

coco room
seef strip

what was consumed: halloumi bruschetta,  rancheros, migas, eggs menemen, breakfast burrito, bbq brisket hash ... and red velvet pancakes


one of the things friends and i enjoy is brunching (as i used to do in WDC), and restaurants in Q8 are happy to accommodate.  when feeling particularly ambitious (& when friends come to visit), we frequently put 'coco room' on the schedule. located in the "seef strip," opposite the seef palace, coca room is ideal for a tasty brunch before a windshield tour of the parliament building, the grand mosque, and other local gems in kuwait city proper.

so, upon being seated (i recommend some outdoor seating when the weather is nice. the seating inside is ok, but it can get a little noisy (the acoustics inside aren't great) and crowded), our server came over with some menus - some paper versions, some ipad versions (with nicely shot photos).

coco room has quite a large menu, but we limited our ordering to their brunch menu, which is also quite large. they have some tradition (arab as well as standard breakfast-y) options, but much of the menu is filled with tex-mex-inspired fare. my favorite is the huevos rancheros: poached eggs (and they are really poached! nice.) on rustic bread, served with refried beans, red chilli hollandaise sauce, mexican herbs (aka cilantro), and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. nom nom nom ...

as is the case with many restaurants, coco room does a very decadent job when it comes to dessert-like fare. yes, i'm talking about velvet pancakes: a stack of 4 pancakes made with red velvet batter, topped with a dollop of whipped (& sweetened) cream cheese and a healthy drizzling of a nutella/caramel sauce. each time i've ordered this, i've split it with 2, 3, 4 other people - definitely the recommended way to enjoy (but one i highly recommend you enjoy ...!)  that said, why it's not ok to have a red velvet cupcake for breakfast, but it's ok to have these pancakes is beyond me as they are essentially the same. if you got for that sort of thing, anyway.

a couple of things i don't see/get: coco room has a hash, but no hash browns. sadly.  love hash browns! also, i'm not a fan of their coffee - they charge for their black coffee by the cup (yes, i'm still a spoiled american when it comes to wanting bottomless drip black coffee :/). there is a coffee bean in the seef strip complex and maybe i'll get coffee from there before sitting down at cocoa room.  maybe.

i add the "ambitious" part of the requirement because 1) if you don't get within the first round of seating, you can be sure you'll be waiting for a while for tables to turn and 2) if you end up waiting, you may end up getting seated once brunch service is over (at noon, i believe) which might be ok, unless you're there specifically for brunch (or red velvet pancakes).

so, enjoy! i will see you there ... !!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

leila

leila
phase 1 @the avenues


wow. it's been some time since i've posted about my eating adventures. that isn't to say that i haven't been eating because that would be grossly incorrect.  i've been busy, but mostly lazy - thank you, b, for the reminder and push!


so ... here goes!


i can't seem to break the very american attitude regarding restaurants in malls. that is, if a restaurant is in a mall, in my mind, there is no way it will be good. that's what i thought until i came to kuwait. i'm slowly, but surely, coming around. much of this is due to the way life runs here in this desert town. especially in the summer (of course), when it's so gosh darn hot, malls become mini city centers. people go to malls to spend their days. it's also convenient because the 2 favorite kuwaiti pastimes are eating and shopping. hahaha ... and so, some really good places to check out are in malls, shopping centers, hotels, etc. the eateries in malls are far from the food court spaces i'd grown accustomed to (yes, there are food courts as well); rather, they are just like more typical restaurants and just happen to be attached to (and have entrances into) the larger mall/shopping areas.

as a result, when i have guests from the states, the last place i want to take them to eat is to the mall. there are lots of really great places to eat in kuwait, why go to the mall? i even "yelled" at one of my local colleagues (it was more like insisting, though it sounded like yelling in my head) about not taking guests to eat at the mall. sigh. it's taken me almost a year to "get over" the stereotypes of eateries at malls; i can't imagine taking "foodies" to a restaurant at the mall (unless, of course, i could go through my entire explanation as to why i would opt to take them to eat at the mall).

and so, when c&j visited me here in Q8, where i did get the chance to explain to them the whole mall situation and because we were at the mall to run a few errands, i was less hesitant about going to lunch at leila (wow, that was a huge huge huge introduction to my lunch here).

the aforementioned colleague told me that there was a good restaurant at the avenues serving lebanese food. i couldn't get that out of my head. so, when i got the chance, i wanted to check it out.


seeing that we were early for lunch (or for any meal according to local standards), we were quickly seated and our servers were immediately attentive (as is the way with lots of places here). we made a selection of a variety of lebanese dishes, all to be consumed family style. there were the standard favorites - hummous, fattoush, etc. and then some of my favorites, including chicken liver (yay iron!). there isn't a whole lot of culinary creativity or "art" that went into the dishes, but each one was solid and definitely satiated our appetites for local (as local as you can get in kuwait, anyway) cuisine. and besides it being in a mall, leila gave a sort of "home cooking" feel, something we all seem to look for. even the "pita" served out of plastic bags sort of reminded me of funny things moms often do (and the rolls, not served in plastic bags, were delicious). all of that aside, i will likely visit leila again and put it on my list of recommendable restaurants.

note: if you look closely at the first photo, there's a young lady, in pink, totally giggling. that's because she had photo-bombed my photo of the leila store front - my new favorite person! my camera was too slow to catch her in the act, but i'm all for it. photo-bombing ftw!