Hubbox, Gunwharf Quays | Restaurant review
Right, full disclosure: when the Dish Detective heard that Hubbox was opening, we were thrilled.We obviously approach all eating houses neutrally, without prejudice, bias or preconception.
But we’d stumbled across a Hubbox in Exeter a few years ago, a small place in a shipping container, and we were blown away. Great burgers, well cooked, the chilli/cheese/salad accompaniment spot on, and some lovely beers and ciders.
Golly, we thought. We’d love one of these near us. Then, we stumbled across one in Truro. And thought the same.
Then in Taunton (the DD, like the Pet Shop Boys, goes west often), and ditto. Lucky west country we thought – Hubbox describes itself as the south west’s finest burgers – so we thought it would be a holiday treat only. But one only went and turned up in Gunwharf, of all places. Get in.
Firstly, don’t be put off by the south west stuff. It’s accurate; it’s where the meat comes from but Hubbox is a proper burger joint – you’re not going to find yourself surrounded by any bizarre local delicacies involving grubs, bark or curds and whey.
So, having given them a few weeks to bed in, we headed along one lunchtime.
The Dish Detective is the kind of person who can salivate just thinking about these things, let alone reading them, so here you go: ‘6oz beef patty, beef chilli, jalapeños, white onion, American-style burger cheese, chipotle mayo & lettuce’. Doesn’t it sound… just.. right? That’s the chilli cheese, the DD’s go-to burger (£9.95).
You can’t eat it without making a right state of yourself, which is to be applauded. Order it with chilli cheese fries (£7.25) as long as you don’t need to either exercise or indeed eat for the rest of the day, and luxuriate in a gooey, meaty, spicy heaven. Thankfully, Portsmouth’s Hubbox passed the major test. The DD’s companion went for the All Star (£7.95) which is a burger with onions, cheese, mustard, ketchup and pickles, plus the vegan slaw (£3.50).
One big plus point for and from us on this is the willingness of staff to help with allergies – an issue with dairy means that the DD’s companion asked for the paradox of a vegan burger but with meat in it. Not only were they helpful but they were very attentive, as they were to make sure that our milk-allergic two-year-old was found something that he’d a) like and b) not have a flare-up after. And given that we had turned up for lunch before most people get out of bed at the weekend, the staff were kind/sympathetic in allowing us to have a burger each even though the kitchen was still officially on breakfast menu. Full marks for that, and also for service that in general was friendly and efficient.
A couple of weeks later, we were in Gunwharf again and thought we’d give it another go. This time, trying but failing to experiment beyond a burger, the DD opted for a bacon cheese (does what it says on the tin, £9.95), and more chilli cheese fries, because you just can’t not. Again, spot on.
So, the DD is going to call it. This is the best burger place in Gunwharf – by far – and has a strong shout to be the best in Portsmouth, and the DD’s trouser waistband will tell you that there is form to be had here. The only fear is that it’s in the wrong place, both in Gunwharf – it’s in part of the old Water Margin Chinese restaurant and so you have to walk ‘round the corner’ of the upper floor of the block that houses the cinema; there’s not much chance of passing trade – and the city, as it’s got far more of an Albert Road feel to it. The DD just hopes that word gets out enough to let hungry punters know that Hubbox is worth seeking out. Because it is, it really is.