Sometimes you just crave a burger. But with the market — and fat content — both saturated, where should you eat? Matt Blackwell’s search for a healthier option took him to Elevation Burger
Love it or loathe it, fast food has become a staple of the modern diet.
A society that craves convenience means franchises of multinational chains are emerging in malls from Sohar to Salalah to fulfil our every need. Acting as an oasis in the desert of hunger, they promise deep-fried, sinful satisfaction in abundance and at the top of the pile sits the humble hamburger.
The more health conscious among us – myself included – can feel a wave of guilt when frequenting a fast-food restaurant but, after a trip to Muscat Grand Mall’s City Cinema, I put my culinary conscience to bed to sample the famed Elevation Burger.
For me, walking into a fast-food restaurant for the first time is a daunting process. I stare at the menu boards in open-mouthed wonder, with deals of the day and super combos vying for my attention and investment.
As we entered Elevation Burger, on the first floor of the mall beside Paul, I was struck with my usual fear and had flashbacks to the meltdown brought on by my first visit to Subway in 2010.
I need not have worried, as the menu at Elevation Burger is refreshingly simple and offers just eight items. Starting with the basics, you can get a cheeseburger, a beefburger, a veggie burger or a grilled cheese sandwich. The more health conscious can opt for a Half the Guilt Burger or an Elevation Salad, but the standout candidates have to be the Vertigo Burger and the Elevation Burger – more on these shortly.
At the counter was a smiling employee who was waiting to take my order. Perhaps sensing my inexperience through my slight hesitation, he talked me through the menu, explaining the concept of Elevation Burger.
This was an incredibly thoughtful gesture from someone who was clearly proud of where he worked, and it was a welcome change – fast-food employees usually expect you to have decided on your order before you’ve walked through the door.
My dining partner and I then settled on an Elevation Burger. Many of you may consider it a cardinal sin to order the same thing during a restaurant review, but this is no ordinary restaurant.
The beauty lies in the many ways you can customise your burger. You really can have your meal on your terms, with a choice of ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, caramelised onions, mustard, mayo, raw onions, Elevation Sauce, balsamic mustard or – for a small extra charge of 300 to 650 baisa – beef bacon, mushrooms or jalapenos.
So even though we ordered the same burger, they were really worlds apart.
We were told our customised behemoth burgers would take a few minutes to cook, so we took a seat on the outside terrace, savouring the thought of the impending indulgence.
Our meals arrived promptly and that is when the fun began. Tackling the Elevation Burger, which comes with two beef patties as standard – not to mention our optional extras – can be a somewhat messy affair, but if you’re prepared to get stuck in, it’s certainly worth it.
The restaurant prides itself on the fact that “ingredients matter” and it uses only grass-fed, free-range beef – something that really shines through in the taste.
A far cry from the mass-produced, flavourless grey patties that so often stick to the inside of soggy buns at many inferior fast-food outlets, the Elevation Burger had a wholesome, home-cooked feel, plus a wonderfully meaty taste and texture.
The sourness of the pickles teamed with the bite of the raw onion were well balanced by the sweetness of the Elevation Sauce, and it was all washed down with a delicious chocolate and Oreo cookie milkshake, made with real ice cream.
Halfway through our meals, our server ventured on to the terrace to check that everything was okay – another small touch you don’t usually get at a fast-food restaurant. Fully occupied with demolishing our burgers, we only managed a muffled “yes, thanks”, but we were quick to take him up on the offer of additional napkins.
The only slight drawback was the fries. I’m a big fan of fries cooked in the skin, as these were, but they needed a tad longer in the fryer. The optional cheese topping I had selected for my fries smothered them slightly, threatening to overpower the taste. But that was my own choice – you live and learn.
Elevation Burger is not my usual type of place when eating out, but the burgers are superior in taste and quality to its larger and more well-known competitors. And with terms such as “organic”, “grass-fed”, “free-range”, and “no trans fat” all on the menu, your culinary conscience remains intact.
Tasty, wholesome burgers
Muscat Grand Mall, First floor, Al Khuwair, Muscat
Tel: 2200 9402
Opening times: 11am to midnight
Dinner for two people: RO19.95