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Different tastes at Burger Festival

The third edition of the Nairobi Burger Festival (Enjoy two for one deals on burgers at over 100 participating restaurants) ran from July 27 to August 5. Our team visited a few eateries and found out that all that glitters is not gold

Njeri Maina @njerimainar 

love food festivals and discounted offers mainly because I get to frequent the joints I love and try out new ones at half the risk.

During the Burger Festival held in Nairobi last week, I stumbled into a small, attractively unusual or old-fashioned eatery, the Coffee Casa in Parklands. It has its walls written in chalk, with tiny wall paintings for interior décor and a high glass roof that makes the space seem more spacious than it really is.

The place is popular and we had to wait for 10 minutes to get a table. We spent the time looking at merchandise from the pop-up market that happens here from time to time. 

We finally got a place to sit and ordered for chicken and Mexican burgers, which were on the burger fest menu. The free burger had to be similar to the burger you ordered, so there was not much room for experimenting.

They cost around Sh990 a pop, though one had to fork out extra money for extra toppings such as eggs, mushrooms or cheese. The burgers arrived with a side helping of fries and barbecue sauce.

I found the chicken burger crunchy and therefore dry, consequently not very edible for my young charge. The Mexican burger, topped with a healthy helping of guacamole and spicy beef, had just the right whisper of heat and the right balance between the creamy avocado and the grilled burger bun.

I would recommend the Mexican burger to be taken as it is without having to pay for extra toppings. However, the chicken burger is in desperate need of cheese and some extra onions. Avoid it if you can.

I washed my burger down with a mug of chocolate milk shake and a delicious coconut-based cocktail known as the Casa painkiller. The burgers here left me feeling cheated, for Sh900 I expected better burgers without having to cough up extra for toppings.

Later, I decided to finish off my burger binge at The Grove Riverside drive. My main bone of contention with most of the restaurants who sign in for the Burger Fest is that they are normally half in, half out. They just won’t commit.

For instance, you have to eat both burgers there and takeaways are not allowed. If you cannot finish it, you leave it there. Hi, J’s. Yes, they did that to me last year and now I no longer buy burgers there even when it is not festival week.

So, here is the other thing about food festivals; they can break up a long time relationship as the case was between the J’s burgers and I.  But they can also rekindle your relationship with an old lover. Like it did between The Grove and I.

The Grove is on the top most floor of the executive residency by Best Western, off Riverside Drive in Nairobi. I have been there for a quiet nightcap where jazz strings are always playing and for lunch on more than one occasion.

Needless to say, the place has an excellent view no matter what time you visit. I ignored the views and just ordered burgers to collect on my way home from church. The offer was, either eat at the restaurant or order for delivery.

I ordered lamb sliders and a beef burger, which meant I got twice what I ordered. They came with a side helping of fries and vegetables. The fries were big sumptuous chunks with a light sprinkling of salt and spice. The beef burgers were also creamy and well done.

As for the slider, I found it tasty, with pickled vegetables and sweet sauce though it was really a big bun with three-slider patties. To me a slider has to be a tiny burger that I can hold with my hands. I really wish they had trimmed down the bun into three distinctive sliders rather than three sliders housed in one. I was elated with their beef burgers that I stopped there for lunch another day. I cannot wait for the next food festival to introduce, destroy or rekindle my relationship with restaurants and their respective menu items.

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