The rules are simple: eat a burger weighing one-kilo, and all the sides, within one hour. You won’t win a prize or a trophy, but you will earn yourself a free meal, and a good few years’ worth of bragging rights.
I’ve dragged two reluctant opponents – Tom and Victoria – with me. Because I’m a fan of a little friendly office competition, all three of us will attempt to eat a burger each. None of us are under any impression that we will be able to eat the whole thing (I'm competitive but not delusional) so whoever eats the most wins.
We set up our battle stations in a little booth. We're wedged in behind a table, so there's no posibility of retreat, and steel ourselves for a fight to the finish (or surrender, technically).
You can smell the burger before you see it. The aroma drifting out of the kitchen is delicious, just as you hope a burger would smell, so I start to think that maybe this won’t be as difficult as I have anticipated. I skipped breakfast and turned up in my stretchiest clothing. Tom, on the other hand, is dressed smartly in a shirt, while Victoria is in a high-waisted skirt. Rookie mistakes when there is lots of eating to be done. “I’ve got this in the bag,” I think, and order myself a milkshake (the other two follow suit and I feel smug that I've managed to throw them off so quickly).
When we arrived at Banana Island I was, of course, expecting something big. But the burger that is placed in front of each of us is so unbelievably gargantuan that it leaves me wondering whether it would actually be safe – as in, we-won’t-end-up-in-hospital-from-eating-too-much-red-meat safe – to consume the whole thing in one sitting.
I gawp at it for a few minutes, weighing up tactics and trying to decide on a course of action. Tom and Victoria, on the other hand, are already charging ahead. Victoria, ever the picture of poise, sits crossed-legged, taking dainty bites with a knife and fork. Tom has cut it into segments and is tackling it layer by layer. First the bread, then the meat, then the salad toppings like lettuce and tomato.
In the end, my plan is to cut it into quarters and eat each piece as a seperate burger. I haven’t given any thought to the basket of curly fries yet, but since I now have four virtually super-sized burgers to eat, I decide the sides can wait. I'm convinced that by strategically dividing up the meal into more manageable portions, the task of ahead of me will seem less daunting. It doesn’t.
The burger is delicious. Juicy and cheesy with waves of sharp pickle and a beautifully toasted loaf-sized bun. Halfway through the first quarter piece, though, I’m already flagging. Tom is racing through and already has a third of his burger down. Victoria is lagging behind, but her slow-and-steady method means she is still diligently working her way through the food without any signs of slowing.
I soldier on until I’m midway through my second piece and make a lacklustre attempt at the curly fries. The more I eat, the more it seems I have left to eat, and I have made the near-fatal error of finishing my milkshake (it was so deliciously creamy, I couldn’t help it).
I’m determined that if I’m not the one to eat the most, at the very least I won’t be the one to bow out first. But as the clock ticks on and both Tom and Victoria inexplicably continue to plough through their food, it becomes clear that I may be left with no choice. I feel like my stomach is being squeezed by elastic bands made for Barbie dolls, and I’ve resorted to washing down each mouthful with a swig of water. It’s time to throw in the napkin. If this is Waterloo, I’m a dazed Napoleon and I’ve flattened my horse.
Incredibly, there is a Wall of Fame displaying photos of successful contestants (there aren’t many). None of us join them. Tom and Victoria both give up shortly after I do. Victoria is the last one standing, and looks as pristine as before the whole ordeal began. Tom and I on the other hand are distraught and ketchup-stained.
There isn’t much in it, but I decide that I’ve come in a respectable second (sorry, Victoria) – though for all my efforts, I’ve still barely made a dent in the burger. No matter how many prizes we give ourselves, it's clear: we have been defeated.
QR320. Open noon-9pm. Ted's, Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara (4040 5138).
Four to try Burger deals
Next time you're in the mood for a burger, forego your usual go-to chain and try something a little more local. European restaurant Aroma's most famous dish is, surprisingly, the camel burger. With a more gamey flavour than beef, this huge Qatari burger is a must-try while in Doha. On Mondays, choose from a selection of beverages and desserts to go with it.
QR120. Mondays 7pm-11pm. Kempinski Residences & Suites, West Bay (4405 3325).
#BBFMondays at Belgian Café offers a great value meal deal: a juicy burger and a pile of chunky fries for just QR99. This deal also includes a pint of hops.
QR99. Mondays 12.30pm-2am. InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4448 4444).
Market by Jean-Georges
Every Sunday choose one of the restaurant's huge (and very popular) burgers, plus a side dish and an ice cream sundae from a selected menu. Make sure you book ahead for this one.
QR125. Sundays 7pm-11pm. W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5135).
This daily promotion offers a selection of the lounge's best burgers including varieties such as chicken and even Halal Japanese Wagyu beef and more. The deal also includes a choice of selected hops.
QR140. Daily 5pm-12.30pm. Library Lounge, Four Seasons Hotel Doha, West Bay (4494 8600).