Arrival of the gourmet burger

| August 20, 2013 - 10.24UTC

Jeannette Musembi is delighted to discover her weekend treat has been taken to a new level.

As a food lover, I love seeing a new culinary trend take hold, inspiring new eateries and causing older establishments to up their game. So I was wondering if you’d also noticed the current fad that is taking Nairobi by storm: gourmet burgers?

Fast food used to mean a slightly dodgy kebab, a burger shop or a bucket of crisped-to-death chicken. Now the creeping gentrification of the hot snack is going mainstream after winning us over at festivals and urban pop-ups. Gourmet burgers are in, as fast food turns into top-quality cuisine.

Diners looking for a burger that is a cut above the preservative-laden stereotype have been making some outlets so popular that it’s not uncommon to see overbooked reservations at the weekends.

Burgers featured in today’s menus are topped with delights such as bacon and blue cheese dressing, pineapple and chillies, and goat’s cheese with tomato. Of course, the secret to all gourmet cooking is using fresh ingredients.

When the hunger pangs come calling, there’s little to beat a big, succulent burger. Here are a few recommended places to eat that meatiest (or indeed veggiest) of treats:

Urban Burger
Located in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, Urban Burger has earned a great reputation for its burgers made from selected meat cuts with a low fat content, no preservatives, low-GI buns, and everything fresh.

Big Square
Located in Karen, Big Square is known for its unique square burgers with delicious flavour combinations, from bacon jam to honeydew smoked beef all the way to Jalapeno chicken. With delicious onion rings, you are sure to enjoy this treat.

Brew Bistro and Lounge
Many have taken up Brew Bistro’s monster burger challenge, and few have succeeded. The 11kg burger comes ‘smothered in cheese, onion relish, pickles, lettuce and tomato, all within a specially created bun’ (and a Ksh5000 bill). If you finish it within one hour, you get your money back as well as Brew goodies to honour the occasion. The smaller, more easily digested burgers get good reviews from patrons too: “Hearty, tasty and served with a perfect portion of fries.”


The Magnificent Seven: Jackson Biko visits the Seven Grill and Lounge at Village Market
They have MEAT! Yes, Seven Grill and Lounge is a tender version of the Seven Seafood and Grill at ABC Place, which means that as well as supplying the same snazziness and opulence of their restaurant at ABC Place, the Village Market branch also caters for carnivores. And they are serious about their beef, serving cuts aged for between 21 to 38 days.

However, Seven’s seafood pedigree still shines through in its diverse menu. I started with calamari a la pianca – tender calamari, delicately charred on flattop grills and garnished with garlic and parsley butter. If you like your calamari crisp, as I do, maybe you should try it wet and with garlic butter. It doesn’t burst in the mouth like the former, it yields to a bite.

For the main course, I asked our waiter, James Kiiri, to recommend something from the fish menu. He didn’t disappoint with the service, and he certainly didn’t disappoint with the food, opting for their signature dish of black sole fillet with burnt butter and sage sauce.

And what’s a good meal without some wine? I chose the Pavilion Boschendal, a blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz; light yet not afraid to give you that lift that wine drinkers favour at a happy table.


Flights of Fancy – A peckish Jeannette Musembi visits Wilson Airport
It is safe to assume that you’ll know Wilson Airport, but are you aware that there exists a restaurant on its premises that is over 80 years old? Founded in 1927 by aviation pioneers, The Aero Club of East Africa boasts a rich history and a diverse clientele. The Club has the only restaurant at the busy airport and until recently it was frequented exclusively by Club members.

Now, it has opened its doors to the public in a move to revive its once dynamic atmosphere, and non-members are now allowed to enjoy some good old-fashioned food weekdays up till 6pm.

Known as Creative Kitchen, the restaurant has an inside dining area, a large eating deck and tables in the garden and by the pool. Overlooking Wilson’s runways, it is an ideal spot to while away a few hours, especially if you are overwhelmed by the traffic on Lang’ata Road!

The restaurant’s chef of two years, Neil McCarthy, has recently relaunched the menu. Designed with airport-themed references such as ‘initial checks’, ‘cockpit checks’ and ‘after-landing checks’ (among others), it is laden with an interesting mix of gourmet comfort food, all generously portioned.

Why not start with a homemade soup of the day with toasted garlic bread? Then opt for a fresh slow-roasted chicken and avocado salad. Their hotdogs, burgers and sandwiches are also scrumptious. I highly recommend the Timau lamb burger. Finish off with a tasty dessert and you might just need to be towed out of your seat!

Open from 6am-6pm, The Aero Club is a must go. With free Wi-Fi, , a child-friendly environment and an average spend of just Ksh 1200 per person, its a worthwhile experience.


Top 3 restaurants for gourmet comfort food
1 Talisman
For: classic favourites
A beautiful hideaway in the Nairobi suburb of Karen, Talisman is well known for its classic favourites: feta cheese samosas and of course its mammoth burgers – juicy, fresh and hearty.
Karen, Nairobi

2 www shop & bar
For: flavour-bursting burgers
Renowned for its impressive wine selection, few know or are aware of the restaurant’s delicious gourmet burgers. For example, the Greek-styled lamb burger has been known to cause a ripple.
The Junction, Nairobi

3 Lord Delamere’s Terrace
For: fresh and juicy cuisine
This cosmopolitan, open-air cafe offers simple, classic cuisine—from continental to Italian to Asian—and signature gourmet burgers and pizzas.
Fairmont, The Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi


For restaurant reviews, more info & to make bookings, visit

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