Merge 104.8’s Neal Bowden and Tom Green find that South African RocoMamas is an eatery that can take on an American classic that any US rival will find hard to trump.
Burgers are as much of an American icon as Coca-Cola, the Statue of Liberty and rock ‘n’ roll.
Being two guys who work for Merge 104.8, we take our music seriously.
And when breaking up a long day in the studio for lunch we want a burger that’s tripping with taste in an atmosphere that we can chill in.
It turns out that the kind of tasty burgers that Samuel L Jackson extolled in Pulp Fiction are not just the preserve of our American cousins.
When my friend and colleague,Tom, and I stumbled upon RocoMamas, a chain specialising in burgers and ribs, we were surprised and delighted to find out it had originated in South Africa.
Eighteen months ago, there were just three in Johannesburg, today there are 40 across the country. This one is the first in the Middle East.
And the burgeoning success of its smash burger has not gone unnoticed on Instagram. The term refers to the process of smashing a ball of ground beef on a hot grill to seal in the juices.
Having been warmly greeted by an attentive server, we were ushered to our seats. We perused a well-designed menu that offered an array of mouthwatering meal options to satisfy the hardworking guys of any rock star’s road crew.
And there is a bit of a rock, ‘n’ roll feeling going on in the décor, without being too cheesy. Wafting through the speakers is classic rock, which is audible at a customer-friendly volume.
The decor is modern with a slight retro feel, while there are wooden touches that give a warmth to the room.
For starters, we plumped for a large bowl of coleslaw, with beef bacon, accompanied by eight buffalo wings. The beef bacon was crisp while the cabbage in the coleslaw had been tautly shredded and doused with just the right amount of vinaigrette salad dressing.
As for the wings, well, they didn’t last long. They were juicy, with a nice buffalo kick and were balanced nicely with a blue-cheese dip.
We took the simple option with drinks, by simply drinking cola with our courses. Not diet cola but our preferred normal, sugar-rush option!
Tom made a beeline for the Rockstar Burger, which he said was a heavenly mélange of smashed beef, Emmental cheese, caramelised red onions and RocoMayo. Cutlery is provided for you to eat your burger and the size of this baby is such that you would need the jaws of, well, Jaws, not to use them.
Tom dug in, and found the smash beef method of cooking the burger clearly to his taste. With the cheese, which had enough tang to keep him interested, and the flavoursome onions, he was as happy as Howard Stern with a hapless celebrity on the other end of his headphones. Tom did find the sauce a little sweet on the old tastebuds, though.
I opted for the ChilliCheezBomb Burger. Again, it contained the smashed beef; this time, with beef bacon, mozzarella, cheddar, fresh chilli and chilli mayonnaise. It was another humungous and handsome sight to behold. With the fulsome flavour of the beef locked in, compounded by a coalition of flavours that just peppered my tongue without overpowering it, I was, in the words of the Dave Clark Five, glad all over.
Both of us liked the fact that we could customise our burgers with as many condiments as we wanted, a full list of which is added on the menu.
We also ordered a kilo of beef ribs, for good measure. And of course, they had to be Old School (BBQ flavour). They were among the best both of us have ever had, and clearly the highlight of our visit. While they took a while to prepare, the result was clearly worth the wait, as the succulent meat just fell off the bone.
Despite having imbibed starters and mains that would have sated the appetites of Meat Loaf or Barry White, we really couldn’t leave without sampling a little dessert.
We both agreed on the Cookies and Cream Waffles (waffles, whipped cream, ice cream and chocolate sauce). It was a luscious, zestful concoction that, had we had any room left, we might have had seconds.
We finished off with a couple of espresso milkshakes that had a nice hint of coffee and weren’t too sweet.
RocoMamas is the business. The only slight thing I would mark them down is that when we ordered, no one made us aware of the specials board or the limited-edition burgers on display.
Never mind, after an exceptionally good lunch, we returned to the studio happier than Pharrell Williams and will be going back again soon.
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Way 3052, Shatti al Qurum (next to City Cinema)
Tel: 2464 1066
Opening hours: Daily
Dinner for two: RO40
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Fast service and wholesome meals.