To all those of you who attended Chirag’s birthday at Gourmet Burger Kitchen and scoffed at my plea for someone, Dear God, Someone, please order that fabulous sounding Aubergine Burger so I can snatch a nibble from it:
...HERE IT IS.
The entire table nearly wretched at my mention of this beauteous auberginated being – clearly people had deep-rooted childhood issues with this innocuous vegetable, making aubergine out to be one of the most abject things you could possibly shove into a burger. I on the other hand, was transported back to plates of roasted aubergine, mashed up into a cream and spiced Indian-style, or deep-fried aubergine ladled with coriander-sprinkled yogurt, or meaty chunks of aubergine with picklish nigella seeds. Mommy was iron chef when it came to cooking aubergines. She still is.
[Why didn’t I just order this voluptuous veggie stack you ask? Because I was otherwise occupied sampling the smoked ranch, blue cheese, mushroom and garlic mayo sliders. 100% beef, medium-rare please. I pleaded with the two vegetarians on the table to give the aubergine a fair chance. But they committed the ultimate faux pas and ordered exactly the same portabello burger. Waste of sampling opportunity. W.A.S.T.E.]
So yeah, this blog post is just one of those in your face things that I had to get out of my system, even though I try to stay the heck away from mammoth international restaurant franchises. It's not that I never go try them, in fact, I've even blogged about a few of them in my early wide-eyed days as an infant blogger. It's just that over time, I've realized that I get way more excited about the super authentic unique little joints in random corners of the city than the big shots piled up in glitzy shopping malls.
But today, I’ll make an exception. I'll talk about this burger I ate when I stepped back into GBK a week later. I'll give it some precious blog space just because I need to prove a point.
The Point: Aubergine burgers are edible.
The Point [continued]: …and they can even look sexy.
GBK’s Aubergine and Goat Cheese burger is the Johnny Bravo of Burgers. Macho, hunky, overgrown and muscly on the top, and then tapering down toward a tightly squished bottom.
There are parts of this burger body that are actually quite endearing. That big flop of mesclun on the top, gelled with a sweet lemonish vinaigrette. The soft toasty sesame bun, with grill lines crisscrossing the mayonnaise smeared insides. The plump juicy wedges of sundried tomatoes squished between the goat cheese patty and the eggplant base. And those bread crumb-coated droplets of creamy goat cheese that had oozed off of the parent goat cheese patty and camouflaged themselves into the mayo on the bun.
But when it came down to the real substance, the ‘meat’ of the burger, in true Johnny Bravo style, this burger was somewhat of a…dunce. There was an overdose of goat cheese, an entire brawny deep-fried chunk, but not a whole lot of aubergine to show for it. Just one lone aubergine slice right at the bottom, which magically vanished in some dark recess of my tummy before I realized that it could have been quite inspirational if thrown under a liberal salt shower...or maybe marinated in garlic and tomato paste...or maybe, if some sensible soul pulled out that fat mattress of goat cheese and left in just a few warm teasing smears of it, that would have made the aubergine the centre of attraction.
The Meta Point: An Aubergine burger inherently has what it takes to be a rockstar* burger.
*Qualifier to The Meta Point: GBK's version could have achieved celebritydom had GBK only given that aubergine the respect and flavor it deserved, and not just shoved it under an overwhelmingly fat knob of mediocre quality goat cheese.