Fatburger

If you have a kid brother or sister who seems to do everything better than you, you’ll know how Fatburger feels. Founded in LA in 1952 it aimed to serve fresh, beefy burgers, cooked on the grill in front of you, with fun ’50s decor (although, being the ’50s we guess that was the norm) and friendly, animated staff. Sound familiar? Johnny Rockets was born a whole 34 years later, but, perhaps the more adventurous of the two, Johnny fled its nest and headed to Dubai shores in 2003. Since then, it’s opened four branches and become a firm favourite among burger lovers and families. Today, it runs more than 200 restaurants throughout the world, making Fatburger’s 91 seem rather quaint by comparison. It’s only this year that Fatburger has made its way to Dubai, and, unfortunately, it looks like it will continue to lose out to its bigger, younger brother. For starters, the space is a hub rather than a proper sit-down restaurant, and it lies hidden between Nando’s, Zaatar W Zeit in the maze of The Dubai Mall’s lower-ground food court. We found that the ’50s diner theme had been replaced by stark, ‘food court’ furniture of beige plastic tables and brown chairs. In true fast-food fashion, the walls were swathed with images from the menu. It wasn’t exactly the ‘gourmet’ experience advertised by the PR. Still, we would be able to put aside our aesthetic quibbles if the burger was good. As my date and I approached the counter, one thing was certain: the staff were feeling chipper. An extraordinarily smiley cashier took our order with such enthusiasm that I started to think my decision to have beef bacon and cheese in my burger was the best idea I’d ever had. Smiling from the flattery (I’m easily pleased), I was further amused when the cashier repeated our order to the kitchen staff who then cheered it back in chorus. I was expecting a larger selection of gourmet accoutrements. The menu is pretty standard, with the sole exception that you can opt to have a fried egg top your patty. Still, when my burger came out, it was stuffed to the brim with tomato, onion, gherkins, bacon and cheese. It was messy, but glorious. My only gripe is that I wasn’t asked how I liked my meat: the patties come out well done and hence slightly small and shrivelled. Personally, I think a proper burger should be served rare, but this wasn’t an option, and I wondered if this was due to the quality of the meat. I put these fears aside, and tore into some perfectly executed chips, their crisp shells giving way to a fluffy heaven. I was also a fan of my date’s onion rings, which were chunky, with a light, crumbly batter. A strawberry milkshake, made with ice cream and whole chunks of berry, made a delectable finish. So, as it turns out, the older brother is still talented, but he’s not as good at selling himself as his spunky sibling. There are plans for a stand-alone Fatburger restaurant later this year on Jumeirah Beach Road, hopefully more effort will be made with the decor – and then there really could be some sibling rivalry. The bill (for two) 1x Bottle of water Dhs5 1x Bacon cheeseburger combo Dhs43 1x Fatburger with cheese Dhs24 1x Onion rings Dhs12 Total Dhs84

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