The new trend in Karachi burger joints these days is small self-service outlets – order at the counter, wait for your food to get ready, collect it and eat in the accompanying sitting area or in your car. The menus usually feature classic burger combinations, quirky names based on American pop culture, and an array of secret sauces.
Burger Nation is one such eatery that has opened up its first outlet near Royal Apartments at Karsaz, with a new outlet coming soon in Mohammad Ali Society. Initially open only for dinner and delivery, they have just started their lunch service as well.
The outlet is small with an order counter at one end, and space for about 20 people in total. The walls are covered with posters of pop culture memorabilia ranging from DC superheroes to Archie comics and TV show characters like the Simpsons, giving it a casual, fun vibe.
|The pop culture memorabilia wall. – Photo by author|
The menu is basic – there are five types of beef burgers, with options of single patty or double patty, and four chicken burger options all available in single patty.
The side options are also typical – basic fries, curly fries, onion rings, and their take on the smothered cheese fries concept.
One of the most popular items on their menu is the 'Texas Smokey Burger' – we decided to order that in a double patty, along with a 'Honey Mustard Chicken Burger'. Onion rings and 'East Coast Fries' were ordered as sides.
Within minutes we heard the sizzle of the grill, and the aroma of char-grilled beef fill the cafe. It did however take almost half an hour before our order was ready. Picking it up from the counter, we settled down and dug in.
|Our complete order. – Photo by author|
Encased in a freshly made potato burger bun, The 'Texas Smokey Burger' was all about the meat – flavourful, juicy patties topped with lettuce, tomatoes and a slice of cheese, with onion rings giving it an interesting crunch. Just the right amount of sauce was used – enough to bring out that smoky barbecue flavour without turning the burger bun soggy.
|'Texas Smokey Burger'. – Photo by author|
The only downside was that the raw beef had not been firmly packed when forming the patties. It had disintegrated from the edges during the grilling, giving the burger a messy look.
The 'Honey Mustard Chicken Burger' was very basic – two pieces of crisp batter fried chicken, with lettuce and honey mustard sauce. The chicken fillets were fried to perfection. The chicken was crunchy yet moist, with no greasy aftertaste.
The downside? The sauce lacked punch, and could have been improved with more honey.
|Honey Mustard Chicken Burger. – Photo by author|
The 'East Coast Fries' consisted of French fries, smothered with a garlic mayo concoction, topped with mushrooms and a slice of cheese. These would have been better off served in a plastic box instead of the regular burger box; it would have looked much better in terms of presentation and the sauce would not have been absorbed at the bottom.
This side was aimed at mass appeal, but the execution could have been better. The fries used were frozen packaged fries so while they were crisp and crunchy, they lacked that fresh potato taste.
The cheese should have been melted properly to get that stringy, cheesy taste and to ensure it mixed well with the garlic mayo sauce.
The onion rings were package variety as well, but tasted better than the fries. Unfortunately, it was a pretty small serving, with only four pieces for Rs100. I would have preferred an increase in price for a proper serving instead.
|Order counter inside Burger Nation. – Photo by author|
What works for Burger Nation is the same thing that differentiates the new style of local burger joints from the fast food chains – a limited menu focusing on local favourites; fresh ingredients for the burger patties, with freshly baked buns and a good value-for-money proposition.
Costing Rs500 for a double beef patty meal (with fries and drinks), and Rs400 for a chicken burger meal, it is cheaper than the foreign burger establishments. What they can improve on is the quality and flavour of their sides.
Being located at Karsaz – which is pretty much the center of the city – is one of the best things about Burger Nation. It lands on the way from one end of the city to another, making it a good option for both take-away and dine-in.
They do however need to improve their service time and continue to build on the same concept.
Rating (3.75 out of 5)
Food: 4 | Ambiance: 3.5 | Service: 3.5 | Value for money: 4
Kiran Afzal is a researcher by profession, who enjoys food blogging and reading on the side.