x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Burger Joint New York comes to the UAE

The famed Manhattan eatery Burger Joint New York opens in the UAE tomorrow. 'It’s not a fancy burger, just incredibly tasty,' says the founder Steven Pipes.

Burger Joint New York is known for its simple but super-tasty burgers. Courtesy: jennyadamsfreelance.com
Burger Joint New York is known for its simple but super-tasty burgers. Courtesy: jennyadamsfreelance.com

A couple of months ago, in New York, I found myself queuing at an eatery hidden behind velvet drapes in an ultra-modern hotel. The only indication of my pending lunch: a neon burger sign. Twenty minutes or so later, I was at the counter placing my order. There was only one burger-in-a-bun on the menu: a ground beef patty with a choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles, plus condiments of mustard, tomato ketchup and mayonnaise. Fries were served in a small brown-paper bag. No sign of chicken, fish or vegetable burgers. Toppings aside, the only other decision I had to make was the temperature I wanted my meat cooked.

Burger Joint, which opened sans a name at Le Parker Méridien hotel 12 years ago, docks into the UAE next week with its first outlet in Dubai at Citywalk mall, followed by Abu Dhabi’s Nation Towers in the next few months.

Steven Pipes, the president of Le Parker Méridien and founder of Burger Joint, is in Dubai for the launch.

“We didn’t give it a name and just put up a neon sign in the hope that people would find us. Pretty quickly they started to notice,” he recalls of the early days. “We did no PR but the press dubbed it the ‘burger joint at Parker Méridien’. It was doing significantly more than what we ever thought in terms of covers.

“It’s grown since then and spawned an entire burger industry in New York and around the world. Only later did we trademark the logo and Burger Joint New York.”

Inspired by the musical West Side Story, the Dubai location features a confined narrow space and dramatic high ceilings, mimicking a New York back alley complete with fire escapes. A back alley with a terrace overlooking the Burj Khalifa, in this case.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi has copied an element of the original New York outlet (there’s a second branch in Greenwich) closing the front facade and adding curtains to a hallway leading to the neon sign. Once inside, it’s all mock brick walls, which then break out to an alfresco setting.

The menu follows a cookie-cutter approach. “It’s Nebraska grain-fed beef, butchered daily. It’s not a fancy burger, just incredibly tasty,” says Pipes. “We tried to make the buns here, but it didn’t work so we’re flying them in, along with the fries and the ice cream for the shakes. The veggie toppings are locally sourced.”

Like I enjoyed mine in New York, and unlike other independent burger outlets here, the patty can be cooked rare if requested.

• Burger Joint at Citywalk Dubai will be open daily from 10am to midnight and until 2am on weekends. Call 04 344 4459. The Nation Towers location in Abu Dhabi opens in the next few months

artslife@thenational.ae