There’s a scene in the Michael Douglas film Falling Down where he’s in a fast-food chain called Whammyburger and loses his temper because the burger they serve him looks nothing like the one in the in-store advertising. ‘See, this is what I’m talking about, look at that,’ he seethes, pointing at the illustrated menu above the cashier. ‘See what I mean? It’s plump, juicy, three inches thick’. Then he holds up the one he was served: ‘now look at this sorry, miserable, squashed thing. Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with this picture?’
Most of you will have experienced a moment like Michael Douglas’ character. Hopefully you didn’t pull out a semi-automatic gun and lose the plot like he did, you probably didn’t even complain, but I’m sure a similar frustration was there.
The difference between the burger in the picture and the one they bring out tends to vary on where you are eating, but Gourmet Burger Kitchen specialise in burgers and the standard they set (at least judging from the pictures of their burgers) is very high. Incredibly, the ones they brought out looked just like the ones in the adverts.
I had a Pesterella burger, which was made up of Scotch beef, fresh pesto, mozzarella, tomato, lettuce and relish on a sour dough sesame seed bun. That was a long sentence, but this was a big burger, so much so, they had to stick a wooden spike through it to hold it all together. The slices of mozzarella were cold which was disappointing as the cheese in a good burger really needs to have melted onto the meat and mozzarella is a great cheese to melt. Apart from that quibble it was a mighty fine and meaty eat and they’ve informed me that the meat in the Dubai branch is Black Angus rather then the Aberdeen Angus beef which means the meat is superior to that in other franchises.
My dining partner had the blue cheese burger, which had wonderfully flavoursome Stilton topping giving it a bit of a stronger kick and appropriately raising the quality up to something that befits the name of the place. It’s a nice place too. There’s a great diner-style booth in one corner with soft comfy seats and it really is a decent place to hunker down, even if it is a bit on the bright side. But most places of this kind are and maybe the reputation of the burgers is raising people’s expectation about the other aspects of the restaurant.
There were faults though. We ordered chips with dips on the side but while the chips themselves were flawlessly cooked, chunky, hot and a credit to themselves, the dips were a bit lacking. It’s strange that a place priding itself on being gourmet, and making laudable attempts to stand out from the many burger chains in the city, would serve dips in little plastic pots. They were like the pots you get the garlic sauce in with a takeaway from Dominos Pizza and the garlic mayo and barbeque dips we ordered here tasted a little on the bland side.
The music was annoying, and that’s not just me being old and grumpy. It was just a bit off putting trying to hold a conversation with someone while some R&B performer was loudly droning on about his ‘bling’ from the speaker above us. I don’t expect to hear decent music in a burger bar but turning it down a notch might be an idea. Perhaps is was a genuine attempt to drown out the ambient noise from the concourse that the restaurant opens out onto and it’s always a bit annoying when restaurants open out onto anything other than a great location. The inside of the Dubai International Financial Centre isn’t a great location.
Despite their reputation it wasn’t the tastiest burger I’ve had in Dubai, and believe me, I’m interviewing potential candidates at such a rate my colon is turning into a full stop. That honour is currently held, somewhat improbably, by the burgers at The Boston Bar with ‘50s retro chain Johnny Rockets close behind. Easily correctable faults aside though, the Gourmet Burger Kitchen is well worth a visit simply because they do exceedingly good burgers.