What’s there to say about Open Flame Kitchen that has not been said before? This place opened to much fanfare, like so many places do here in Kuwait. The hot new spot spreading through word-of-mouth across the country until the new must-be-seen place opens. The thing that sets OFK apart from the rest though is that this is still the place on everybody’s lips when talk arises of the best restaurant in Kuwait.
The flame is still burning strong at OFK and it shows no signs of waning. The reason is they haven’t wallowed in their success and remained static. They opened to success and have worked hard to maintain it. So when OFK shook things up and reinvented their menu, we knew we had to swing by 360 Mall and check it out.
But changing the items on the menu at a beloved restaurant doesn’t come without its challenges. The restaurant is popular for a reason – people love the food! The new menu is a mix of tweaked dishes, some new items, and things that simply could not be removed for fear of revolt. The Maple Sticky Buffalo Shrimps are one of those things that they could not even entertain messing with. Some diners order these and instruct the waiter to make sure they don’t run out through the meal. Even though we were there to sample the new menu we, of course, had to order some too – they really are that good!
But OFK has a lot more going for it than the menu. The restaurant itself is just as inviting as the food. The brainchild of Basel Al Salem, who’s also responsible for Cocoa Room, Slider Station and Burger Boutique, OFK is a unique concept as breath-taking in its execution as it is in its ambition. From the custom built open flame grill in the middle of the restaurant, wood burning pizza oven (also custom built) to the chairs and tables, nothing here is prefabricated. Everything follows a theme of a geometry of lines, either crisscrossing or spiralling. The lighting is mellow enough to make you forget that you walked in here from a mall.
Settling in to peruse the menu, the thing that will strike you will be the sense of atmosphere this place offers. We were greeted by Burnt Wood when we arrived. That’s a ‘Heatbuster’ as they like to call them at OFK. A refreshing blend of apple juice, blackberry juice and raspberries, topped with ginger ale. We also couldn’t resist trying the Lemon & Mint either; it’s a classic in Kuwait for a reason.
We started with the aptly named ‘Temptations’, OFK’s appetizer section of the menu. We tried the Wood Fired Garlic Flat Bread, which was light and fluffy with a mellow garlic taste, Baja Fish Tacos and of course, those Maple Sticky Buffalo Shrimps! We also tried the Burrata Crostini. The stand-out items were the Smoked Brisket Tacos – the beef is cold smoked for twelve hours to give in an incredible flavor and served in tacos that are made in-house – and the Jalapeno Miso Glazed Black Cod, which is served with crispy lotus roots and needs two days prior preparation. We also got to devour Mushroom Pebbles, breadcrumb-covered bombs of mushroom, cheese and chili, which weren’t on the menu but we’re hoping make it on there soon.
Always looking to paint a full picture of the restaurant at hand, we made sure we tried a couple of salads before we got down to the serious work ahead. The Le Verte is crunchy, fresh and flavorsome and the Golden Beet & Wheat Berry is something a little different, employing golden beets instead of the usual red.
Of the two pizzas we tried, the Alpha and The Carnivore, I preferred the former – a twist on the classic margherita which uses whole-wheat dough – for its simplicity and resulting subtle flavors. Meat lovers will rejoice in The Carnivore though. The beauty of the pizzas at OFK is that wood burning oven and the flavor it imparts to the pizza.
We then tucked onto a Lasagne Bolognese with a twist- the lasagne sheets are made in-house and contain saffron. Like everything at OFK, it’s these little extras that set it apart from the rest. This item was also off the menu when we visited (making us feel that little bit extra special).
The Blackened Spiced Sea Bream represented the ‘Seafood’ section of the menu with honors and was one our favorite dishes. From ‘The Grill’ we went for an Argentinian Prime Rib with an Argentinian dry-rub, which is of course, made in-house.
Then came the burger parade. It’s what the ‘b’ stands for in b+f open flame kitchen after all (the ‘f’ would be fries). They offer fourteen burgers in total, that’s not including the ten sliders they also serve, and all the buns are baked in-house. You could be spoilt for choice but that’s over-complicating things. It’s better to think of it more randomly, just pick one and order it, don’t overthink it; you won’t be disappointed whatever you plump for. Mixing it up to begin with we went for the Shepherd’s Burger, a fire grilled lamb kebab patty served on a ciabatta roll. Kebab plus burger equals a winner for us. Then we went more traditional with The Emperor; this beast of a burger is 8oz of house blend beef that has been slow cooked and topped with wood roasted onions. It’s a lot of burger, but damn tasty! The wagyu burger, known as Roma at OFK, is served with Portobello rosemary cream and topped with Provolone, and the Room 22 is a classic combination of beef patty, cheddar, tomatoes, onions and lettuce but served on ciabatta with homemade red pepper relish. Normally preferring my burgers simple – bread, meat, cheese – I was surprised that my favorite burger was The Ultimate Sriracha. This is a 6oz special blend patty that has been chargrilled and topped with brie, maple glazed bacon, shaved onions, arugula and sweet sriracha sauce, all on a sesame roll. I think it was the maple glazed bacon that snatched it for me!
And who doesn’t love a ‘Happy Ending’? That’s the section of the menu where you’ll find a short. but sweet, dessert listing. Of the seven listed on the menu, we managed (in the name of good coverage of course) to try three of them. The Mexican Doughnuts are served warm and coated in sugar and cinnamon. Dip in the accompanying dulce de leche sauce, crunch through the sugar and then experience the fluffiest doughnut imaginable. It would have to be a coin toss to decide on our favorite dessert though; Sticky Date Pudding served with homemade French vanilla bean ice cream or Crème Brûlée French Toast served with dulce de leche ice cream? We absolutely loved both but we’ll leave it up to you to break the tie.
In short, the dining experience at b+f Open Flame Kitchen is exceptional. The food, the service, the décor and design – it all adds ups to a meal you won’t be able to forget in a hurry, even when people start talking about the hot new place they heard about.
b+f Open Flame Kitchen is located on the ground floor of 360 Mall. For more information visit Facebook: Openflamekitchen or to make a reservation call 2530 9990.