Review: HubBox Exeter

HubBox is a new "pop up" Gourmet Burger and hot dog place in Exeter.  I went there with great anticipation, but I was also intrigued as to what will set them apart from the other 2 gourmet burger places we have here in Exeter.

When I arrived I was greeted by Johnny, who was passionate and keen to tell me all about the HubBox journey.  He told me how the HubBox is an extension of The Hub, a hugely popular restaurant based in St Ives.  They wanted to create a pop up version, and transformed a 30 foot shipping container into a fully modern mini-restaurant with a full commercial kitchen and seating for 20 inside, and lowered it into the city centre of Turo from the arm of a 60 foot crane!  Their original intention was to stay for 12 weeks, but it proved to be such a roaring success that they have now been operating for over a year!  They only use the best quality meat for their burgers and potatoes for the chips, and every ingredient in-between.  They take care to source the best they can and keep everything as local as possible, usually within the West Country including their craft beers on tap.

It is clear that they have taken these elements and brought them across to their Exeter restaurant.  While the Exeter Hubbox is in a shop, the kitchen has been created out of a shipping container.
Although to look inside the kitchen you would never tell, apart from it being a little on the small side!  The tables, chairs and front desk have all been made from wood, yet it is all still very comfortable. The knives and forks are all wooden, with paper napkins and the menus are printed on thin paper.

The walls have been stripped back to reveal the original red brick, and they are littered with trendy graffiti. While my description may not make it sound that appealing, it still manages to look fresh, contemporary yet industrial and somewhere that is comfortable to sit in eat.

Something that definitely does set HubBox apart from its local counterparts is that is has a very centralised location.  Situated on Sidwell Street it is just off from the high street.  Their whole menu is available to take away, so this combined with its location makes it the perfect place to grab a bit to eat for any city centre workers, and there are lots of those!

Now on to the food.  They offer a range of handmade burgers, Big Apple hot dogs made from 98% free range pork, pulled pork sandwiches and even a fish option of crispy Cornish mackerel with beetroot jam and horseradish mayo.  The head chef, Alex, has travelled America to learn their traditional cooking methods, and applies them with his own twist to create the HubBox flavour. I was looking forward to trying their pulled pork, which is all smoked and slow cooked for 12 hours in house. I had the “BIG KAHUNA” which is two 4oz burgers, BBQ pulled pork, Swiss cheese & onion rings.  I also had a selection of all of their sides including burnt end beans, apple slaw, house pickles, giant onion rings (Good job I was hungry!)

When my meal was brought out, it looked amazing.  The onion rings were, as promised GIANT! The smell from the pulled pork and burnt end beans was seductively smoky; I didn’t know where to start!  I eventually decided, after staring in wonder for a while, that the smell of the burnt end beans was too much to resist! They use all of the ends of pulled pork and beef that are a bit too chewy to serve on their own and mix it with their homemade BBQ sauce and beans to create this amazing dish.  Such an amazing idea and an excellent way to utilise the left over bits.  The smoky BBQ flavour was delicious, and a great clue of what I was about to taste with the burger!  The slaw was delicious, tangy and sweet with just the right amount.   I am OBSESSED with picked gherkins, and these homemade pickles were delicious and full of flavour, not just vinegar!  Now to tackle the enormous burger!  The burgers were so succulent and juicy, and you can tell the high quality meat used to make them.  Every mouthful of the burger was a joy, and it was packed with so much taste.  The pulled pork had such a rich smoky flavour and their homemade BBQ sauce was a real treat to complement it.  The only thing slightly negative that I can find to say that the size of the burger made it too big to fit in my mouth, which would normally be fine, but the wooden cutlery wasn’t much help when it came to cutting it in half to make it more manageable!  The chips were thin and crispy, just how I like them. My double burger was £7.95, and the sides are on top of that.  I think this is very reasonably priced for the high quality of food that you are getting. Their prices start at £4.95, which is perfect for a take away lunch. The cheapest burger I could find at the other 2 gourmet burger places in Exeter was £5.50.

All in all I was really impressed and they completely exceeded my expectations. So, what sets them apart from the rest? The centralised location, quick service, takeaway option and price. Their menu is also a little different, for example the Mack daddy - Crispy mackerel, beetroot jam & horseradish mayo. BETSY- Homemade falafel, sweet chilli jam, charred corn & avocado salsa and BELLA- Grilled goats cheese, roasted red pepper, crispy courgette & beetroot mayo.  I really recommend that you give these guys a go.  A Pop up restaurant that I hope is here to stay!

Food *****  Service ***** Atmosphere *****