Burgerlympics Round 8: Ed’s Diner, Pretoria

We ventured to the other side of the (boerewors) curtain for this month’s Burgerlympics. Ed’s Diner, Pretoria to be exact. I was a little on the fence about whether or not this should be allowed, it being about Joburg’s best burgers but democracy prevailed and off we went.

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GENERAL

Décor:

Ed’s Diner is pretty much the epitome of an all American burger joint. Think checkered floors, big booths, pin ball machines and old school American art. We don’t have anything quite like it in Joburg and so we were all suitably impressed.

Vibe:

Ed’s Diner is laid out over three floors –  this place is massive. We were seated upstairs on the balcony and being 20 people, sort of took over the space. I can’t really comment on the vibe of the rest of the restaurant but I imagine it gets pretty full, especially on a Saturday (I’m thinking the diner scene from Grease – awesome!)

SCORING

Patty:

Ed’s Diner is totally old school when it comes to their patties. You get the original or double. Trust me, go with the original – it is HUGE. I obviously went for the beef patty but there is also chicken, deboned rib and vegetarian on offer. Beef patties are cooked rare, medium or well. I ordered mine medium and it was pretty spot on. Although the patty itself was well spiced and juicy I found that the meat was too compact (tightly pressed?) and the size put me off a little. Bigger isn’t always better *gasp*

Average score –  8/10

A coupla’ comments – “perfect, taste consistency, perfectly cooked”, “cooked perfectly but lacked a bit of seasoning”, “a little undercooked”, “super large but not so tasty and a bit dry”

 

Toppings/Combos:

This isn’t a build your burger kind of place and that’s just fine. There are thousands (I exaggerate) of options on the menu and all your bases really are covered. I went for my usual – bacon, avo and blue cheese sauce (the sloppy joe) but there were quite a few combos that caught my eye. The sauce was served on the side which was nice because you could add however much you wanted. Bun choices – normal, ciabatta, gluten free and bun-less aka stupid. Your normal choice of sides but you are allowed to order half and half, which is nice.

Average score – 7/10

A coupla’ comments –  “bacon was burnt and cheese flavourless”, “generous and tasty, couldn’t find fault”, “great combo but needed a matching sauce”, “ice cold and cheese wasn’t melted”

 

Ease of consumption:

As mentioned, these burgers are massive. I had to cut mine into quarters just to try to fit it into my mouth. Alas, I failed and resorted to knife and forking it – which, as you know, I hate. The patty itself held together fine but it was very tightly packed.

Average score –  7/10

A coupla’ comments –  “bun was too big so had to use a knife and fork (burgers get eaten with hands)”, “mine was massive yet I ate it with my hands until the end”, “I had to cut my burger up…4 times. Even then I couldn’t get it in my mouth and had to use a knife and fork”

 

Service:

As we were a table quite a big table, we had two waiters serving us. Service was attentive and our orders were all taken correctly. However, when the burgers arrived, things started falling apart – orders were confused and some people ended up eating other people’s sides. A little leeway must be given as we were a big table.

Average score – 7/10

A coupla’ comments – “Fairly attentive but descended into chaos when orders arrived, plenty of mixed up orders”, “got a little thirsty and had to beg for ice”, “was quite good but lost points on not getting a waiter at the end”

Awesomeness:

Most of us commented on how awesome the décor of Ed’s was and how cool the place was overall. The giant burgers certainly were a talking point but if I’m honest, I found them a little off-putting. Some brave little soldiers ordered the double burgers. How they are still alive is beyond me. I pride myself on having a massive appetite but I struggled to finish my burger and felt quite ill afterwards but hey, most people like ‘em big.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments –  “was generally a good burger but sides let it down”, “Love the venue, great décor but menu smelled like wet dog”, “loved the menu and choices. Service wasn’t great.”

Overall: 37/50

While I loved the restaurant concept and the menu, I personally was not blown away. I thought a lot of it was style (and size) over substance. What the burgers lacked in flavor they made up for in size and I can see how this can be appealing to some people. From the comments, it would seem that service let it down. We had two waiters so there are really no excuses here.

Would I go back? Definitely, I’m just not sure I would order a burger and I probably wouldn’t go in a big group.

ED’S DINER 

PARKVIEW SHOPPING CENTRE

CORNER GARSFONTEIN & NETCARE RD

MORELETA PARK

PRETORIA 

TEL: 012 998 8802

 

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Burgerlympics Round 7: Rocomamas, Rosebank

And finally, we made our way to Rocomamas (Rosebank). As I’ve mentioned before, Rocomamas do not take bookings. This annoys me. I understand the reasoning behind it but we’re guaranteeing you a fairly large table and you’re making money. Anyway, we all agreed to get there a little early and bag a table. I wasn’t first to arrive but was told that the staff was very accommodating and sorted out a table for us immediately. Considering it was 11h30 and the restaurant was not super busy, I don’t think this is anything to be blown away by.

GENERAL

Décor:

Wood. Wood everywhere. This, together with splatters of orange and black epitomizes Rocomamas’ decor. The restaurant is designed around its open plan kitchen and is modern and fun. The bright neon lights and cool sugar pour-ey things pay homage to old-school American diners.

Vibe:

We’ve been to Rocomamas more times than I can remember. If it is lunch or dinner time, it will be packed. Waiters are rushing around and there is a constant buzz coming from the kitchen. It isn’t really a place you go for a leisurely lunch but it’s definitely awesome for a pre or post party meal.

SCORING

Patty:

Rocomamas is all about the smash burger. A patty thrown on the grill and smooshed. It was quite thin but juicy and full of flavor. I’ve only ever had a beef burger so I’m not quite sure whether the chicken burger would be a fillet or a smashed chicken patty. I also don’t recall seeing a vegetarian option but I’m pretty sure there is one. I rate Rocomamas patties as some of the best I’ve ever had. Really tasty!

Average score – 7/10

A coupla’ comments –  “perfect pink”; “could have been more spiced but well-cooked and juicy”; “average, slightly under-cooked

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Toppings/Combos:

Rocomamas was the first to introduce the “build your own burger” concept (or at least it was the first place I saw it). If you can think of a topping, it will be there. There are a few ready-made options but nothing that will blow your mind. Get creative, build your own. There is only one choice of bread roll (didn’t see anything for our banting buddies –  if anyone still actually bants) but a roll is a roll, right?

I ordered my usual of bacon, avo and cheese. I chose blue cheese sauce instead of an actual slice of cheese and whilst delicious, it did make the burger sort of slippery.

Choice of sides is limited to just normal fries. They are great though, and the portion is huge.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments –  “coleslaw topping was amazing. Enjoyed the fries too”; “love that we can choose our own toppings and get exactly what we want”; “my choice so of course good”; “not enough cheese, bun was ice cold”

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Ease of Consumption:

Rocomamas burgers are small, there’s not two ways about it. On a hungry day, you could probably devour this burger in two bites.  Naturally, the more toppings you pile on, the harder it’s going to be to eat. Mine was a little messy towards the end but this was because of the squishy mashed avo and runny blue cheese sauce. The patty itself holds together perfectly.

Average score – 7/10

A coupla’ comments –  “drip, drip”; “stayed together til the last bite”; “good because the burger was small”

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Service:

As mentioned above, the staff at Rocomamas Rosebank seated us quickly and without issues. Drinks orders were taken competently and quickly. In light of the fact that you basically order for yourself on a piece of paper, it’s hard to mess it up. Nonetheless, food is served quickly and we were in an out in about an hour and a half.

Average score –  7/10

A coupla’ comments – “can’t recall actually waiting”; “nothing wrong but nothing great”; “good”

Awesomeness:

The wings at Rocomama’s are awesome! They come in a variety of flavours and are perfectly cooked and smothered in incredible finger-licking sauce (Oops sorry, KFC). I suggest ordering them as a side to your burger or ask for a portion to start –  remember, the burgers are small so you will probably want a little something extra.

Average score – 7.5/10

A coupla’ comments – “great value for money”; “lacks a vibe but great for a quick burger”; “always satisfies”  

Overall: 36.5 out of 50

Surprisingly, Rocomamas didn’t do too well and is second from last. I think maybe the whole “build your own burger” concept has lost a little appeal, which coupled with the fact that the burgers were pretty small means it gets outclassed by other contenders.

That being said, I really love Rocomamas. It is a place I frequent often and I’m never disappointed. Would I book my birthday party here? No. But it’s perfect when you’re craving a proper burger meal.

Note: Rocomamas is a franchise and there are literally stores popping up everywhere. We went to the Rosebank branch but I can also recommend the Randburg one on Malibongwe.

ROCOMAMMAS

STANDARD BANK ROSEBANK BUILDING (NEXT DOOR TASHAS)

TEL: 010 007 2653

 

 

Burgerlympics Round 6: Great Burger Company, Illovo

GBC first opened in Fourways a while back and their second store opened in Illovo shortly thereafter. Gary and I gave it a try last year (not for burgerlympics) and we thoroughly enjoyed it. So when Team Ta-Da nominated it as their choice, we were thrilled.

GENERAL

Décor:

GBS is going for a diner vibe in their signature colours of white, blue and red. It has a distinctly American feel to it (obviously), which is cool but maybe slightly over done by now. Nothing stands out but I was going there for a burger not a lesson in interior design.

Vibe:

We were seated upstairs on the outside balcony. It felt a bit secluded (which I guess could pass as private) so I can’t really comment on what was happening in other parts of the restaurant. It was a Saturday afternoon in Illovo so I’m going to say it was “vibey”.

SCORING

Patty:

A choice of beef, chicken, veggie and tuna (ahi) –  so all your bases are covered. Obviously I ordered the beef. It was big, flavourful and cooked perfectly. You could tell the meat was good quality and that lots of herbs and spices had been used. On my last visit, I had the ahi tuna burger and it was amazing albeit a little small. My only bone of contention is that I wasn’t asked how I wanted my patty cooked. I think all burger joints worth their salt should ask you how you want your patty cooked. GBC were fortunately saved by the fact that my patty was cooked a perfect medium. A few fellow Olympians mentioned that their patties were slightly overcooked.

Average score – 9/10

A coupla’ comments – “big and juicy”; “top notch”; “slightly overcooked but good”; “delicious, well-seasoned and tasty but didn’t ask how I wanted it”; “perfectly done, spiced nicely”. 

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Toppings/Combos:

GBC is predominantly a “build you own” burger place, although they do have their own combinations for those who are super indecisive. There is every possible topping on offer and a lot of them are free.  You can even choose your own roll (I didn’t see anything “banting” but who cares). I think most of us built our own burgers. I went for my usual of avo, bacon and cheese – this time blue – on a seeded roll. I also added pickles because it isn’t a burger unless it has a pickle on it.  Unfortunately, my burger arrived minus the bacon but this problem was quickly rectified. The topping ratio was spot on and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There is quite a wide choice of sides, including curly fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings two ways. I had sweet potato fries and onion strings – both were awesome. Suggestion: order a sauce on the side for your fries… there is a huge choice and I was disappointed that I didn’t.

Average score – 9/10

A coupla’ comments – “monkey gland sauce was good but not as good as Gourmet Garage”; “nice options on sliders”; “great choices to make your own burger”

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Ease of consumption:

I always cut my burger in half. My mouth is just too small to manage otherwise. Even though I cut it in half, it still fell apart a bit. I blame the avo. Like I always say, mashed up avo is better than slices as slices cause the roll to slide off. Not the end of the world, of course. Notwithstanding bun malfunction, the patty held up perfectly and the bun to patty ratio was spot on.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments – “ate with a knife and fork”; “a little difficult to eat awesome”; “fell apart, not just mine”; “easy peasy”

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Service:

Hmmm, this is where GBC fell down slightly. We had made a booking for 14 people but when we got there, there was no table for us. The staff were quick to sort out a table  but had the restaurant been packed we would have had issues. The manageress who took the booking was very apologetic and we got 2 jugs of berry daiquiri on the house to make up for it. Our waitress was attentive but I did have to ask for ice three times. Considering you tick the boxes and place your own order, there isn’t too much to mess up from a service point of view. Hats off to the kitchen for getting all our burgers out at the same time and (barring my bacon mishap) correctly.

Average score – 9/10

A coupla’ comments – “A smidgen slow but not too bad”; “very friendly”; “friendly and nice”; “very attentive”

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Awesomeness:

I think there is some competition between Roccomammas and GBC when it comes to which is the better “build your own” place. I love Roccomammas but they are not willing to take a booking (even though we’re guaranteeing them a table of at least 12 people) so my vote has to go to GBC. I love the massive selection of patties, rolls and toppings, I love the free popcorn on each table and I especially love the fact that they will take a booking.

Average score – 9/10

A coupla’ comments – “I’ll be back”; “we could smoke inside :)”; “nice vibe, tasty burgers, very good”; “popcorn”; “brilliant”.

Overall: 44 out of 50

As I was devouring my burger, I knew GBC would be a contender for first place. And I was right. Their burgers are really amazing. I’ve been twice and I’ve left happy twice. I’ll definitely be going back very soon and I would highly recommend it. I have a sneaky suspicion we’ve found our winner.

GREAT BURGER COMPANY

SHOP B ILLOVO JUNCTION

CORLETT DRIVE 

ILLOVO

TEL: 011 268 2189

Burgerlympics Round 5: The Smokehouse

Round 5 of Burgerlympics saw us heading into Joburg CBD (Braamfontein to be specific) to The Smokehouse. Most of us had been to the Smokehouse before but really just for their ribs – which are incredible –  so we were eager to give it a try.

GENERAL

Décor:

The décor at Smokehouse is your pretty standard, Americanized decor. There’s nothing wrong with it but nothing to write home about either. I think when it first opened a while back, the décor might have been something cool and new, but now it’s just old hat.

Vibe:

We visited on a Tuesday night and it was packed. If we hadn’t booked we definitely would not have gotten a table. There is something really fantastic about being able to visit Joburg’s previously “dodgy” areas and being surrounded by happy, safe people. However, let’s be realistic – if you are going to sit on the outside deck, keep your bag on your lap or under the table. Someone could easily grab it off the back off your chair and bolt into town.

SCORING

Patty:

You’ve only got a choice of beef, one chicken or one veggie. As I generally always order beef, I wasn’t fussed. We have to remember that Smokehouse is not a burger joint (like many of the other places we’ve visited) so we couldn’t expect it to have a huge choice of patty selection. Although well-seasoned, I found my patty to be a bit dry. I was also not asked how I wanted it cooked, which would have been nice because then it may not have been so dry. Tasty nonetheless.

Average score – 7/10

A coupla’ comments – “nice, but could have been asked how I wanted it done”; “overcooked and strange sweet sauce”; “beefy yet grainy, needed more spice”; “excellent”

 

Toppings/Combos:

As mentioned, Smokehouse isn’t a burger restaurant. That being said, it covered all the bases and offered some new combos. I was hard-pressed to make a decision, torn between ordering the juicy lucy (beef burger stuffed with cheese), the piggy in the hole (beef burger topped with pulled pork) or the blue cheese burger. I eventually went with the blue cheese burger, owing to my unadulterated love of avo. I was a little bit let down by the quantity of blue cheese on the burger –  there should have been more – but overall I was happy. I would order it again but ask for a little extra cheese and maybe a rasher of two of bacon.

Side note: in addition to Piggy in the Hole being topped with pulled pork, it also has a smoked bacon onion ring. I’m not a great lover of fat onion rings (I prefer the thin crispy ones) but this was unbelievable… I mean…. Bacon wrapped onion ring? Come on! Smokehouse should definitely offer these little rings of heaven as starters.

Standard choice of sides, fries, onion rings, salad, veggies. Their fries are amazing. Don’t have your burger without them.

I really don’t care about this but I’ve covered it in each review – there are no banting options –  take your burger off the bun if you like.

Average score – 7/10

A coupla’ comments – “amazing combo”; “monkeygland sauce was fabulous but not enough, had to order more”; “needed more blue cheese sauce”; “the best”; “was lacking tomato but otherwise good”.

Ease of Consumption:

Smokehouse – toast your buns. They are just a little too soft and fall apart-ey. The patty itself held together perfectly and the bun to burger ratio was spot on.

Also, if you’re going to offer avo on a burger I sometimes think its better to mash the avo up instead of slicing it. Sliced up avo makes it difficult to keep the burger together when you’re shoving it in your gob. That’s just my opinion, though.

Average score – 6/10

A coupla’ comments – “perfect”; “bacon ring made it difficult”; “very tall and hard to consume”; “bit soft but otherwise great”; “bun crumbled a bit”; “fell apart after a few monstrous bites”; “easy to eat”

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Service:

Awesome! Our waiter was really fantastic. I’m not sure whether he just woke up on the right side of the bed or is always so happy but seriously, this guy did not stop smiling. He handled our big table perfectly. All our orders were taken correctly (those who asked for no tomato did not find a sneaky tomato hiding under their patty, and those that asked for extra bacon got it).

Our mains took a while to come out but this is understandable when your entire table orders burgers. The main thing was that everyone got their burger at the same time and everyone was happy. Yay!

Average score – 9/10

A coupla’ comments – “”Excellent, attentive service. Was cool that the manager kept visiting”. “great waiter and manager was involved”; “fantastic, friendly and efficient”; “waiter was superb”

Awesomeness:

Ribs, you guys, RIBS! Even if you’re going for burgers, order ribs to share or as a side. They are THAT good. We initially wanted poppers but they were all out so we went with the ribs. We ordered 1.5 portions of the baby backs to get our night started and, without exaggeration, it was probably the best decision I have ever made in my entire life, ever. A fellow restauranteerer mentioned that we probably all rated our burgers higher because we started off with the ribs – this may or may not be true.

I’ve been to Smokehouse quite a few times and we always order the ribs. I have never been disappointed. All I can say is – ORDER THE DAMN RIBS!

p.s in our haste to eat, we forgot to take a pic. Whoops.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments – “atmosphere fantastic, very festive but burgers could use a little work”; “awesome, ribs are incredible and the vibe is great”; “ribs please”; “vibe was awesome, even on a Tuesday.Need to come back for a rib mission”; “great chips” “THE RIBS”. 

Overall: 37/50 

Ribs, ribs, ribs. Oh sorry, burger competition.

I really enjoyed my burger from Smokehouse. Was it the best one I’ve ever had? No. But I would without question go back and order another one. With a side of fries and ribs. I might even become besties with the waiter. Who knows. Smokehouse is awesome. Braamfontein is awesome. Visit and enjoy!

The Smokehouse

Corner Juta and De Beer Street

Braamfontein

Johannesburg

Tel: 087  550 3679

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burgerlympics Round 2: Gourmet Garage

Next up was someone relatively new to Food O’lympics –  Lindsay, who chose Gourmet Garage. Gourmet Garage has been around forever – seriously, I think Adam and Eve might have eaten there when they got kicked out of Eden – but oddly, it isn’t a place I’ve frequented very often. I had a look at the menu online and while I wasn’t blown away I wasn’t put off either, which I guess is a good thing.

Anyway, after fellow Olympians dropped like flies, 9 of us set off to Monte Casino to shovel burgers in our faces.

GENERAL

Décor:

I’m not sure why but I thought Gourmet Garage would be a lot… garagier? More of a diner. It wasn’t. A bit plain and simple, if I’m honest, granted we were sitting outside staring at the cobbled walkways of Monte Casino. Maybe inside was better.

Vibe:
Gourmet Garage is situated slap bang in the middle of the casino. This automatically makes the restaurant feel fuller and as if it has more of a vibe. This doesn’t necessarily mean the restaurant has a cool vibe, it just means it’s slap bang in the middle of a bustling casino. Side note: I hate casinos.

SCORING

Patty:

Once again I ordered a beef patty cooked to medium. My patty was perfectly cooked, really flavourful and juicy. Gary ordered his patty medium rare and it was totally overcooked. From the comments, this appeared to be the exception to the rule as most people rated their patty pretty high. My only complaint was that the patty seemed a bit small. They offer double patties, so if you’re a pig go with that.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments –  “Delish. Perfectly cooked and tasty but a bit small for the bun”; “very tasty and well cooked, a bit small”; “overdone, bit plain but nice”; “Soft, juicy, nice basting”

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Toppings/Combos:

You’ll find nothing but traditional combinations here. Nothing too extreme or adventurous. I guess if it ain’t broke. I noticed that none of the burgers came with avo. How is this even allowed? I asked for extra avo on mine and basically received an unsliced avo half on my patty. Tasty but impractical. By the way, the monkey gland burger looked amazing, next time I’ll go for that…with a properly SLICED avo of course.

Average score: – 8/10

A coupla’ comments –  “Cheese was perfectly melted”: “very generous with cheese”; “nice chilli sauce” “good but had food envy”; “cheese, caramelized onions were great. Bacon should be more crispy”

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Ease of Consumption:

The burger/bun ratio was a little off, in my opinion. The bun was slightly too big for the patty, or the patty was too small for the bun – either or. If you’re banting/gluten intolerant, you won’t find a bun alternative here but ask for a double patty without the roll and use a knife and fork, the patties are good enough.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments – “pretty perfect”; “bun was bigger than patty and got a bit soft”; “good considering I ate it with a knife and fork”

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Service:

Fantastic. Our waiter took our order correctly and was even patient enough to take a text order for the late comers.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments – “excellent”; “waiter was on the ball”; “no issue, food was quick” “waited a while for drinks but all was correct”

Awesomeness:

Gourmet Garage is a great restaurant if you want a bite to eat and don’t want to spend the night there. Service was excellent, food arrived quickly and everyone left happy. Will I celebrate a birthday there? No. But I’ll totally pop in again for a quick burger. Suggestion? Move locations, casinos suck.

Average score – 8/10

A coupla’ comments –  “Great burger, def be back”; “very quick, good for a Tuesday night”; “nothing special”; “give it a bash”; “great, tummy is full”

 

Overall: 40/50 (Current 1st place)

Overall I really enjoyed my burger at Gourmet Garage (minus the giant avo) but as far as atmosphere and vibe goes, I was a little disappointed. This might be due to the fact that it was a Tuesday night, but still. If you’re after a really great traditional burger then Gourmet Garage is your place.

Gourmet Garage 

Monte Casino

011 511 0526

Burgerlympics

download

Having spent close on a year searching for Joburg’s best pizza (see our results here), I was pretty pizza-ed out. Ok, that last part was a lie, but I was wondering whether my body, and mind, could undergo another competition of this nature. So, I sat myself down and asked myself some important questions:

Each question started with “Olivia”, because not only did I need to get serious with myself but that is also my name –

  1. Olivia, do you like burgers?
  2. Olivia, do you want to eat lots of them?
  3. Olivia, do you enjoy talking to yourself like a crazy person?

I answered yes to all 3 questions and just like that I had convinced myself to take part in the most celebrated and renowned FoodOlympics of them all…BURGERLYMPICS!

I faced only one more challenge –  to convince Team Restauranteering. It didn’t take much – the promise of delicious burger juice dribbling down their chins, hot melty cheese oozing out of soft buttery rolls and crispy potatey goodness dipped into tangy tomato sauce seemed to do the trick. (and of course we voted #democracy).

In case you hadn’t already guessed (hey, we all have slow days) the only difference between Burgerlympics and Pizzalympics is that we will test out Joburg’s best BURGER joints and not PIZZA places. I know, right? Wow.

The Process

Pretty much the same as Pizzalympics:

  1. Nominate your favourite place;
  2. Everyone go to person’s favourite place;
  3. Everyone order a burger (meat, poultry or veggie – but if you’re ordering a veggie burger we probably can’t be friends anymore so don’t bother coming or ever contacting me again)
  4. Score honestly.

Scoring

Slightly different catagories this time around:

  1. Patty
  2. Toppings/combos
  3. Ease of consumption (i.e how well your burger held together and went into your tummy, via your mouth, obviously)
  4. Service
  5. Awesomeness (anything goes here)

Each category will be scored out of 10 giving an overall score of 50.

The Rules

Once again there are only 2 rules in relation to a nominated restaurant:

  1. It must serve alcohol;
  2. It must not suck i.e steers (disclaimer: this rule does not mean you cannot nominate a franchise it just means it cannot be a sucky one)

Good luck everyone.

May your buns be big and your patties juicy!

Protea Fire and Ice Hotel – Melrose Arch

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.

~Fran Lebowitz

Another birthday has come-a-calling. The boyfs’, this time.

Like me, the boyf isn’t really into the whole “big birthday celebration” thing so we opted for a quite dinner at the Melrose Arch Protea Fire and Ice Hotel.

Team: Just the two of us. Like I said, we don’t really do the big birthday thing.

Décor: The Fire and Ice Hotel is nothing like any other hotel in the Protea Group. From the black and silver velvet floral wallpaper to the regal leather wing-back chairs, this place just screams extravagance. The dining room is spread out over the second floor and includes an open plan kitchen with surrounding tables, a boudoir-esque lounge (complete with white leather beds) and a massive contemporary bar leading to beautifully lit outdoor dining area. Whilst the outside space is decidedly more down to earth than the inside, it is still in keeping with the hotel’s lavish look. It is really all quite beautiful.

Vibe: We arrived fairly early to a rather empty dining room but it soon filled up with a smorgasbord of patrons. From wine glass wielding women to power-suit parents, the hotel plays host to pretty much everyone.  Although we didn’t stay very long, I am quite confident (taking into consideration its location and style) that this hotel becomes somewhat of a playground for the yuppie sect of Joburg.  That being said, if Joe Soap is after a quick bite to eat in a lush location, he would feel perfectly comfortable here.

Service: Competent but careless. Our waitress didn’t seem too bothered by our existence and our order whilst correct, was taken brusquely and with a slight air of irritation. There was nothing particularly wrong with the service but considering the back drop for the evening, I expected something more.

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Drinks: I don’t usually include drinks in my reviews but considering Fire and Ice plays home to Joburgs finest (and only) milkshake bar, it bears mentioning.

The milkshake menu is divided into alcoholic and non-alcoholic options and all milkshakes come in pint (or, as I call it Goblet) or half pint sizes. The choice is really staggering but as we had tried the milkshakes here before, this wasn’t our first rodeo and we weren’t overwhelmed by choice. We both opted for non-alcoholic, chocolatey half pints (Crumble and Crunchie) which were deliciously thick and creamy. No complaints.

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Note: the Hotel never seems to have the chili-chocolate milkshake which is very frustrating. Sort it out, Fire and Ice.

Food:

Starters – There isn’t a massive selection of starters but enough variety to satisfy most people. Having downed milkshakes and knowing what was to come, we opted to share the Big Fat Greek – Greek salad with a twist. In addition to your bog standard lettuce, tomato, cucumber and olives, the Big Fat Greek is adorned with deep friend golden brown balls of deliciousness (i.e. feta fritters) which truly made this salad. At R65.00 I did think it was a bit small.

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Mains – Range from R75.00 to a whopping R285.00 (seafood platter) and include everything from meat to fish. There is also an African menu that sounds quite intriguing.  We came for burgers though so that’s what we had. We ordered from the Chef’s Creations list of burgers but there is a huge selection for those keen to build their own.

Cheesy Cheese Cheese: I’ve never made shy of the fact that I live for cheese, so ordering this burger was a given. 200g deluxe beef patty stuffed with blue cheese, mixed with Swiss and coated with Camembert. Sounds incredible right? Well, in reality I could only taste the camembert and whilst the deluxe patty was well cooked, it was very bland. I ordered the “bush berry” sauce to cut through the cheese and as such was looking forward to a BERRY sauce. What I got was lamb-ey gravy with some berries floating in it. Delicious? Definitely, but not what I wanted.

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Jaws: a spicy beef patty packing a paprika punch served with a slice of melted cheddar and a tomato relish.  This was the boyfs choice and he said that it was “good”. I tasted some of the patty and was pleasantly surprised by the spicy seasoning. Whilst this burger was certainly tasty, it didn’t warrant the R105.00 price tag.

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Dessert:  The dessert choices at Fire and Ice sound incredible but we were pretty full after our burgers and shakes so we skipped this course. Awwwwwww!

If I was basing my review solely on the food, I would have left Fire and Ice rather disappointed but Restauranteering is about more than just the food. It’s about the overall experience and the memories left lingering in your mind after a night out.

Would I go back to Fire and Ice for a burger? Probably not, but I would take friends there to experience something out of the ordinary. That, and a Goblet the size of my head filled with one of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had.

PROTEA FIRE AND ICE HOTEL  – 011 218 4000