They say there are more selfies taken at Slider Station than actual sliders sold. It’s true – I did a survey and it’s true. I ate two sliders and took three selfies.
We arrived for a weekend lunch, and joined the end of the line, waiting for the doors to open. Yes, there was a line – this place is genuinely busy. The queue was an eclectic mix of expats and locals, all young – young families, youngsters and young professionals. The majority of the youngsters were busy polishing their iPhone camera lenses, ready for the selfie-fest that was about to begin.
Slider Station doesn’t take reservations, instead opting for the chaos and complaints of a disorganized waiting list. However, in truth what’s happening here is Slider Station are making their popularity visible and turning it into a signaling beacon. If you accept reservations and you’re super popular, all that happens is that it becomes harder to get a reservation. If you don’t take reservations, and you’re super popular, then everyone can see how popular you are — and all those people are likely to be curious as to what all the fuss is about. And suddenly a selfie taken in Slider Station becomes that much more significant.
We were sat at a two top table, just before the main room, in a narrow and noisy corridor. Beyond me, in the distance, was a large, bright room, buzzing with ambition and hope. To my left, I could make out the hot line of the kitchen through a rusted steel, reinforced window, making the cooks seem like superhero criminals in an impenetrable jail cell.
Slider Station is inspired by the American gas stations of the 1940s which is an odd decade to take inspiration from seeing as the majority of the world was embroiled in a World War. Interesting fact – Colonel Sanders and KFC started out as gas stations that sold chicken dinners. Maybe Slider Station will eventually become an actual gas station instead? Anyway, expect faux-rusty detailing, exposed industrial ceilings and concrete flooring.
As the name suggests, the menu is heavy on the burgers and sliders, but doesn’t stop there, thankfully. The menu is tapas inspired and rather faithfully follows all the correct on-trend ingredients such as kale and quinoa, lobster rolls and Korean chicken. There is nothing that takes the menu into another gear, but it is still able to maintain the throttle.
Slider Station has effortlessly resonated with both locals and expats alike. It is the place to be seen at the moment, both in person and over social media. Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan, affectionately known as Fazza, has been seen there, as have many other Insta-celebs, fueling the popularity of the place.
But does the food justify the wait? That is the million-dollar question. Actually, it’s not – the real question should be, does the wait justify the food?
The Manhattan burger is Slider Station’s classic; cheddar, lettuce, tomato and a special sauce. In terms of the build of the burger, the ratios were almost spot on – It was the Michelangelo’s David of burgers. The meat wasn’t too thick and overpowering, and the bread wasn’t too doughy and heavy.
The midnight slider arrived, confident in its isolation, and it carried itself well visually. My only gripe would be that the cabbage in the midnight was too wet and turned the slider into a slippery sandwich. I think it’s called the Midnight Slider as it would probably be the last thing you would want to eat at night.
In contrast, the Wagyu rib-eye slider was good enough to have for breakfast – shredded succulent rib-eye beef, sweet and dense, with sharp cheese and onions on a soft bun.
The service was as you would expect – multiple runners dropping off various burger combos at various tables as and when they were ready from the kitchen; haphazard and careless, but still relatively effective. There was no real focus on up-selling, but when you’re turning tables like a jacked up Ibiza DJ, you don’t really need your customers to have a second diet coke.
After a ridiculously long wait, our Korean double fried chicken arrived, neatly sliced and presented on a small tapas plate. The menu claims it comes with a Gochujang honey glaze. Gochujang, for those who don’t know, is a chili based, fermented hot paste used in a lot of Korean cooking. Tabasco is timeless, Sriracha is lovely and Harrisa is a fiery punch in the face. However, if you’re looking for a sweeter, funkier flavor from your chilies, gochujang (pronounced go-choo-jong) is the thing for you. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of that fermented thump in this dish. What I did get was a very salty, sticky glaze and a rather overwhelming feeling of wanting another diet coke. Which of course, I wasn’t going to get.
Galleria Mall on Al Wasl road is home to a number of restaurants, but Slider Station is by far the busiest restaurant on the strip at the moment. It is energetic, hip, and achingly on trend. The food is good enough to incite cravings, but a little on the expensive side, if you are valuing the food alone.
Expect a long wait, but worth it, depending on how many Instagram followers you have.