Riyadh Restaurant Review: GBK-The Gourmet Burger Kitchen
If you’re obsessed with finding the perfect juicy burger, or on a mission to locate the best burger joint in Riyadh, you can now end that search by heading to the end of Tahlia street to Gourmet Burger Kitchen. The Gourmet Burger Kitchen, or GBK for short, is no ordinary burger joint. Actually I wouldn’t call it just a ‘burger joint’, GBK is most definitely a Restaurant. A restaurant which is, in its own words, ‘obsessed with burgers’. GBK’s mission is to bring the best burgers in town to your table. The GBK burgers are unique, tasty, juicy, imaginative and loaded with healthy ingredients.
GBK is a restaurant franchise originating from New Zealand. According to their website, GBK is ‘obsessed with the quality of our ingredients and providing delicious, juicy handcrafted burgers and homemade sauces.‘ Here’s some additional background information about the founders and principles of the Gourmet Burger Kitchen:
“In 2001, three New Zealanders set up the first GBK in Battersea, South London. Their mission was simple; to create a fresh, quality burger reminiscent of the gourmet burgers they were used to back in New Zealand. Working with Chef Peter Gordon, the restaurant’s founders were the first to introduce gourmet burgers to the London market, creating a menu that combined 100% beef with the freshest ingredients and sauces made from scratch every day. They stuck to the basics with an unwavering focus on freshness, taste and quality, and in doing so, started the GBK success story.”
So what makes the Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s burgers so special and what do they offer that other similar restaurants don’t?
Well first off, and what is extremely important for me personally, is to know the source of my food. I don’t eat beef but my kids and husband do, so knowing that the beef comes from “happy cows” that are grass-fed and free-grazing makes a big difference. Not only for the health benefits, but choosing and favoring “real” foods is the ethical and environmentally conscious option too.
Secondly, if I’m going to eat burgers and fries, I want them to be as nutritionally loaded as possible for “junk food”, (which burgers and fries are often labeled as) without comprising the taste. GBK’s food is far from being fast-or junk food, their burgers and all their food is definitely gourmet. GBK uses the freshest, organic produce you will find in Riyadh. And it shows in the food taste, quality as well as being pleasing to the eye.
The third reason I love GBK is the menu, which is so creative and versatile. There are so many options to choose from it becomes a big problem to decide which one to try! Also because each burger is so huge there’s no way you can finish more than one…well maybe maximum two if you’re super hungry!
My husband loves their juicy and spicy options and I usually opt for either the grilled chicken or the veggie burgers. The veggie burger list is impressive, my personal favorite is the falafel burger. Some other burgers worth special mention goes to the Habanero burger, The Ranch House Burger and the Blue Cheese burger. The best thing about the menu is that there’s a wide choice of burgers and patties, lots of side orders, homemade sauces, for a variety of different tastes and they even took into account people with special diets. Check out their allergen menu:
Lastly what cuts the deal for me is the fries. Because fries matter! And size matters too. Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s fries are hand cut and they are FAT! Just the right kind of crunchiness outside without being too soggy inside. And did I mention they make sweet potato fries too? Oh yes. Those are even better in my book! Not to mention the amazing Chili Cheese fries, another must have at GBK.
I would highly recommend ordering one of the cocktails here, they have strawberry and raspberry Mojitos which are fabulous. I loved how my Moroccan salad came with fresh ingredients and best of all it was not soaked in dressing, even though I forgot to ask for the dressing on the side. For starters I can also recommend the buffalo wings and kids love the corn on the cob side orders.
We have two small kids and visiting the GBK with them is always a pleasure, the waiters are very friendly and accommodating to families with children. First thing they bring the kids some activity books which has the kids menu on it too. Highchairs are also readily available. The service at GBK is efficient and welcoming.
What’s surprising though about GBK, is whenever we go there the place seems very quiet. Almost as if the restaurant is closed. Not sure if this is due to our early visiting times (by KSA terms 6-7 pm is early to have dinner, even with children) but the lack of other customers does seem strange, especially since the food is allover excellent. So what could be the reason for the emptiness?
The only reason I can think of for the lack of clientele, is the ambience and decor inside and outside. Maybe it’s something that goes unnoticed by some but for myself the restaurants’ ambience is very important to the dining experience. Even if the food and service are impeccable, the surrounding environment effects us psychologically and no doubt has an impact on the overall experience.
It’s hard to describe exactly what causes the bleak ambience inside GBK. The bright spotlights in a dark room combined with modern style and dark colors, or perhaps the use of stone in the design, all creates a rather cold, unwelcoming feel to the restaurant. I don’t know about the single section side but the family section has almost an “industrial hall” look to it, or as if it’s not fully finished yet, with large pipes visible. The same goes for the outside of the restaurant. The GBK sign should be repaired and overall it could be more inviting in appearance.
The height of the ceilings together with stone floors creates an echo, which the blazing TV does not help to muffle. Last time we were there, the news was on and they were talking about the bombings in Saudi Arabia. Not cool especially with the children around. They did switch the channel when we asked.
If anything, they should be showing a music channel, but I would prefer no TV since it’s just a distraction and noise. Instead, I’d suggest to add any kind of soft background music, perhaps with just instruments to be more acceptable to the conservative crowd.
The bright blue spotlights literally gave me a headache. I like the leather sofas and chairs though, they’re very comfy. But I must say there is that certain something missing here which probably only an experienced interior designer / architect could put their finger on. Personally I think this design could be great for an art gallery or something similar, but for a restaurant it’s a definite faux pas.
I would recommend GBK for both lunch and dinner, for families and group of friends. The food is tasty and excellent quality but not overpriced like many similar burger restaurants in this area.
Value for Money: *****
Kid friendliness: ****
Romance Factor: **
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Beside Suleimania Fire Station & opposite of Copper Chandi restaurant
Tahlia Street, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
(see on map)
Facebook: GBK Mena
*All food and beverages were provided by GBK.