Home of the Big Burger

Black Tap
Jumeirah Al Naseem,
Madinat Jumeirah,
United Arab Emirates

12th August, 2017

Love, American Style

No! This isn’t in reference to the late 1960s short-lived American show. 
No! This isn’t in reference to one of the episodes on Season 1 of Dexter.
No! This isn’t a new American apparel store.
Hell No! This isn’t the closing of a romantic letter. (Sigh!)

Seriously?! This is a food blog, people! So, why, on Earth, would you think that the line above pertained to anything other than food?

So, what in the world is an ‘American Style’? Time for a history lesson (yuck!), albeit a short one.

In 1967, David Wallerstein – the manager of a Chicago-based movie theatre chain – was tasked with a seemingly normal managerial assignment. The assignment – to boost popcorn and soda sales.  Well aware of the fact that customers don’t normally buy multiple cartons of popcorn (unless it’s a group), David came up with the concept of the ‘Supersize’, which as the name suggests involves enlarging the size of the popcorn and soda containers, and thereby enabling the theatre to increase prices as well.

This move was an instant success as customers valued these portions as being more ‘value for money’ than buying an extra carton of popcorn/soda. And it didn’t go unnoticed. It was not long before popular American fast-food chain, McDonald’s, headhunted David, who applied a similar concept to the chain’s food model. The phenomenon of the ‘Supersize’ took American by storm (more like by the tummy!). It began with popcorn and soda, moved to burgers and milkshakes, and soon the entire country was doing the same. Supersize Me! Love, American Style. Now, that’s a closing to a letter!

Now that you know what ‘American Style’ really means, let me tell you how it all fits into my review.

Mid-May 2017. It was a warm, sultry evening and my mother and sister (in their infinite wisdom) decided to drag me along to The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) for a walk, dinner, and ice-cream. I was skeptical about the first of the three, and excited about the other two. We were walking down the Walk (ha ha!), when I noticed a lot of movement by a building in front of us. As we got closer, I realized that there was a new restaurant coming up, evident by the parked moving vans and shifting in of furniture. Curious, as I am always when it comes to food, I looked up at the sign above the main door. The Black Tap. My first instinct, which was based on the font of the restaurant’s name plate, led me to believe that it was a new pub/bar, which would not be a bad guess given the locality. However, after quick investigation, I realized that it was actually an American (NYC) imported ‘Burger and Shakes’ chain. For some reason, the name stuck with me, and I knew that this was one place I needed to visit.

Mid-August 2017. I was back in Dubai after my short trip to India, and as it always happens during my stay in Dubai, my friends and I decided to brave the summer sun and go out for a meal (of all things lunch!). We were in the process of deciding the restaurant, when my thoughts suddenly went back to that one sultry evening in May, and my mind was set. The Black Tap it was. When I pitched my idea, the others agreed. “So, Madinat Jumeirah at 1 pm?” was one of the texts I received. “Madinat Jumeirah? No! It’s in JBR, isn’t it?” I replied. “There are two outlets. I don’t think the JBR is opened. Anyway, it’s easier to get to the one in Madinat.”

Where would you be rather be? Siberia during the winters or Dubai during the summers?

Well, unfortunately, I did not have that option. Given a choice, I probably would have chosen the former, because at a quarter past one, we found ourselves walking (way to build an appetite) right beneath the blazing sun on a very hot Dubai summer afternoon. We arrived at the entrance of the restaurant, all of us nearly covered in sweat, cursing under our breathe about the lack of an entrance to the restaurant from inside the air-conditioned hotel. As we approached the restaurant, we were quite shocked to see that there was not an empty seat in sight. The place was as crowded as a United Airlines flight. Thankfully, there was no bumping off of customers. We were greeted by the receptionist and immediately told that there was a maximum waiting time of one hour. We looked at each other, then we looked outside, at the scenery which had turned almost yellow (like Breaking Bad desert yellow), and then we decided it would be best if we waited inside the air-conditioned restaurant.

We were shown to the bar by one of the waiters, and were handed the menu cards. This, despite us not having our own table. I suppose this was to save time in placing our order once we got our table. While the idea was certainly right, and done with good intentions, I couldn’t help but almost drool over the menu cards given how hungry I was. If you want to successfully build an appetite, read a good menu card for about an hour. As we were deciding our order, the bartender approached us, asking how we were, what we planned on ordering, and cracking the occasional joke or two. It was a good break from salivating over the burger and shake options. Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before our buzzer beeped and we were taken to our table.

 ( From left to right ): Brooklyn Blackout; Cookie Shake; The Spicy Mexican; The Mexico City; Crispy Chicken Sandwich; The Texan
(From left to right): Brooklyn Blackout; Cookie Shake; The Spicy Mexican; The Mexico City; Crispy Chicken Sandwich; The Texan

The server approached us and asked us for our order. We duly obliged. While we all agreed that we were hungry enough to eat our own burgers, ignorant of how big they really were going to be, we decided to share two large milkshakes amongst the five of us. And what a good decision that turned out to be (more of everyone less for me, you’ll see).

As we awaited our food, the hour hand of the clock now narrowly south of 2, I took the opportunity to admire the restaurant’s environment. The graffiti splattered all across the walls, the colourful and artistic “paintings” hanging from the tiled walls, the hat-shaped lamp shades, and the buzz of a (suited) crowd you would expect to see in a place like this. 

Grrrr! My stomach was rumbling, and I took every opportunity to break away from a conversation to stare at the door leading to the kitchen to sneak a glimpse of our food. The shakes, just like the sheikhs (hey!), were the first to arrive. As the server brought them to our table, we thanked the Gods for our wise decision to share them. I know American-style meant larger than usual, but this was not large. This was monstrous! Just looking at them, my sugar levels rose nearly triple fold.

The Cookie Shake – a simple title – was perfect for a hot summer’s day. The shake had everything a sugar enthusiast could ask for – a mountain of whipped cream, gigantic scoops of vanilla ice cream, the cookie rim mould, the hidden chocolate chip cookies, and eventually (after deep digging!) the vanilla milkshake. However, the standout was the Brooklyn Blackout. Aptly named – because drinking one of this alone would definitely put you in a coma – the Blackout is a chocolate lover’s dream. The large pieces of chocolate brownie, served just above a chocolate-chip rim, and the chocolate milkshake. Personally, if this knocked you out, at least the ride down there was well worth it. Given that I was the only one to not have a preference (it’s got sugar, that’s enough for me!), I could have a taste of both. This meant biting on an entire cookie, drinking a portion of both milkshakes, and gorging on a delicious chocolate chip brownie. I think this is the first (and maybe only) restaurant wherein dessert comes before the main course. And I’m not complaining! Unfortunately, this meant that by the time the burgers arrived, my stomach was nearly twice as full as my friends’.

Soon after, our burgers arrived. If we thought that the size of the burgers would be different to that of the milkshakes, we were sorely mistaken. Each burger was as big as the milkshake (if not bigger!). If our stomachs were delighted by the food in front of us, our faces begged to differ. My face was a contortion of emotions and expressions as I pondered on how big the appetites were of people in America. Clearly, they must be unaware of the ongoing cholesterol and obesity problem in the world. Anyway, we all had a daunting task ahead of us – finishing our burgers or at least half of it. I had ordered the Spicy Mexican – a ground chicken chorizo patty, coated with melted jack cheese, served with pico de gallo and a spread of chipotle mayo. I expected the burger to be quite spicy but was delighted when the spice levels were adequate – which I imagine was primarily from the chorizo. It was also interesting to see that some of the key ingredients of a burger – the lettuce leaf, the tomato, and the gherkin – were kept on the side, which left it to the customer to decide what he/she wanted. While I was glad that the tomato didn’t make it on to my burger, I think the ingredients should be placed inside the burger already, and could be removed upon the request of the customer while placing the order. The fries, which also seemed ‘Supersize’, were well seasoned. While I was focused on my own dish, I could see that the other burgers were being enjoyed by my friends. It was unfortunate that my stomach prevented me from taking a bite of their burgers, but all it does is make me want to go back to the restaurant for a chance at another one of these monsters. If there was one thing that I was slightly perplexed about it was the Crispy Chicken Sandwich. The term sandwich usually indicates that the dish would be (preferably smaller) served on perfectly toasted bread, and not resemble a burger as it did. If it was meant to be a burger, I suggest that the same be added to the list of burgers and not be called a sandwich. 

By the time we were done, only two of the five plates in front of us resembled something close to a polished plate. Personally, I let go of the fries. I just couldn’t do it! I maybe a foodie, but unfortunately I am the size of Jughead Jones or Shaggy Rogers, sans their cartoonish capacity for food consumption. We paid the bill, and (dreadfully) made our way outside, back beneath the unforgiving Dubai sun. By the time we made it to the car, I was dripping in sweat – unsure of whether it was from the outside heat or from the meaty goodness we had all just consumed. I think it was the former, even if it were the latter, it wouldn’t matter. In the end, it was worth it! Would I go back and try my luck again? Sure, if you bring along a group of paramedics or if I starve for a day or two. 

Welcome to Black Tap! Home of the Big Burger. May I take your order?” – what the servers should say when they are at a table.

This was true love, American style! 

Black Tap - Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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