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

 

 

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Cranks – Rosebank

Cranks – “the Thai/Vietnamese/whatever you please” establishment, nay, institution had been calling our name for quite some time.

Some of us had been there a few times and others were crank-virgins, but the thoughtof a cranks adventure was bouncing around Restauranteering HQ like a rogue ping pong. We finally decided to grab the proverbial bull by the proverbial horns and do it. A date was set and off we went.

Team: 9 salivating soldiers ready for a foodie battle.

Décor: If Cranks is known for anything, it’s the décor. This place is a kaleidoscope of all things quirky. From the barely clad Barbie dolls hanging from the ceiling to the Tiger beer crates lining the wall, Cranks certainly provides ample ammo for an
interior design discussion. There is something to catch your eye inn every corner, including a mirror ball adorned mannequin wearing a pink feather boa and wooden torso with giant metal knockers (and no, I don’t mean door knockers). If Thailand and Las Vegas were to have a love child, Cranks would be it. Definitely worth visiting for the décor alone!

Vibe: As mentioned above, Cranks is an institution. It’s been around for years and it’s a place people will frequent come rain or shine. Luckily I booked, because the place filled up, and quickly. It’s based in the Mall of Rosebank, which was relatively empty but Cranks was buzzing. It’s certainly somewhere that you want to have been to, as in “Cranks? Yes, obviously I’ve been there.”

Service: Lacking. The staff is abrasive and I questioned on more than one occasion whether they were actually listening to what I was saying. As I will discuss more fully below, the menu is a tricky read and it’s hard to remember what you actually ordered.
This isn’t made easier by a waitress who just stands there with food in hand waiting for you to guess what’s what. That being said, we got our food promptly and the order, once ascertained, was correct. Word to the wise – make a mental note of what you actually ordered because the bill is not itemized and it can be tricky in a big group.

Food: Let’s start with the menu, or rather menus – plural. There are 4 of them, 2 of which are double sided and as big as a world atlas. They are a little confusing and all the dishes are described at length. Starters range from R50 – R90 and mains are anywhere from R80 to R130.

Here’s a selection of whatCranks was packing:

Starters: At table favorite was the Crank Mussels, served in the shell in a slightly spicy peanut broth. I found the seafood/peanut combination a bit odd but the sauce was rather addictive – I caught myself slurping some on more than 1…..10…..occasions. The mussel itself was a bit chewy. Approximately 6-8 mussels in the starter portion for R95 so a little pricey.

The boyf and I shared the Colonels Peek Gai – spicy deep fried chicken wings served with a chili/vinegar sauce and a fresh salad. I didn’t find the wings spicy at all but I guess if you poured the chili/vinegar sauce over it would have been. The fresh salad was made up of bamboo shoots, beansprouts, a variety of julienned veggies and some peanuts, and was delicious.

Another dish sampled by most of the battalion was the Yam Nea – Cranks version of a thai beef salad. The beef was slightly overcooked and I personally found the dish too spicy. The rest of the salad was quite nice but the spice killed it for me.

Mains:  I ordered off the “specials” section of the green menu, so my dish was nameless. It was a spring onion and
rice flour pancake served with a Saigon chicken curry
. This was not your typical crepe. It was a crispy pancake, the texture of which I can only compare to a moist, thin naan bread.The curry itself had just the right amount of kick and was toned down with lashings of coconut milk. I would definitely have it again.

Heo Xop Chua Ngot – crispy pork fillet with lemon grass, sweet chili and tamarind.  The flavours worked perfectly.Each bite was fresh and had the right balance of sweet and savory. I did however, find the pork a tad dry.

Billy Boys Two-some – stir fried pork and squid . This dish was mild and all the flavours stood out. The squid wasn’t squid but rather calamari batons, but they were cooked beautifully. The pork was also cooked to perfection. A great dish all in all.

The boyf ordered the AC/DC beef, which he has ordered on previous visits to Cranks. It’s always good, apparently (I never taste it because he orders it “very hot”) I’m a great believer in consistency so tip of the  hat to Cranks on this aspect.

Other dishes included – Ca-Ri-Ga (standard Thai chicken curry), HeoXop Chua Ngot (sliced pork with hot pink chili paste) and Tite Fitting Ping Ping(chicken skewers with potato wedges and a chili sour cream)

 Dessert: Yet again, I didn’t order dessert.Not because I was overcome with wine, but rather because nothing stood out for me. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, Asian restaurants generally have a very limited menu which more often than not only includes ice-cream or fruit dishes. The only exception at Cranks is that they add peanut sauce…to everything. Not my cup of tea I’m afraid.

Overall, I found the food at Cranks to be good, but not great. I have most certainly eaten better Thai/Vietnamese food. However, what Cranks may lack in mind-blowing food and general service, it certainly makes up for in
atmosphere.

Cranks is the grandfather of the restaurant world and has paved
the way for so many Asian style eateries.Therefore, my approach to Cranks is this – if you live in Joburg,or even if you’re just visiting for a while, go to Cranks. You may not be floored by the food, but you will definitely fall in love with this quirky little piece of history.

Note: if you have been to Thailand and loved the beer, you will find most varieties at Cranks.