Aubergine Burgers are worth trying. Case reopened.

To all those of you who attended Chirag’s birthday at Gourmet Burger Kitchen and scoffed at my plea for someone, Dear God, Someoneplease order that fabulous sounding Aubergine Burger so I can snatch a nibble from it:


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.


Gourmet Burger Kitchen
DIFC, Dubai
Phone: +971 (4) 425-0187
Facebook page

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

14 thoughts on “Aubergine Burgers are worth trying. Case reopened.

  1. radz says:

    such an entertaining read Arva ! your comparison of the burger to Johnny Bravo had me in splits !
    must make my mom try these … keep them blogs coming :)

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Angie C – saw your blog about eggplant parmigiana, you got your fix! :) …AND that would go great in a burger…

      @radz – thanks babe, now and then cartoon network helps fill in my descriptive vocabulary when all else fails. Looney toons should have showed up on my blog long ago…

      @Sally – moi aussi! I think I’m going to become a restaurant taster and charge restaurants for my menu ideas and award FRYINGPAN stars to people who listen and soar with my ingenious ingredient ideas. I feel like a millionaire already. Someone, call the press…

  2. Kulsum says:

    Wait where have I been? Why haven’t I ever encountered a eggplant burger? Need to change this as soon as possible even though it might mean shoving the burger into my husband’s mouth with all the force. He deserves that, for hating eggplant.

  3. kooksfood says:

    The photos look amazing! (but I might still stick to beef… :-p)

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Kulsum – hahaha…you’ve got what it takes to be a true Eggplant Face Shover, show it to ’em like it is! (…and I’m guessing we’ll see gorgeous beauty pageant style eggplant burgers on your blog soon…?)

      @Nausheen – Yep. Top heavy on guys = good. ripped. Top heavy on burgers = edible logistical nightmare. Though thinking about it in retrospect, I should have just turned the burger upside down…why don’t such brilliant ideas possess me while I’m eating?…

      @kooksfood – thanks. and at GBK, you’re probably better off sticking to just that. The smoked ranch burger will definitely leave you grinning like a happy cow by the time you’re done with it…

  4. Miri says:

    Definitely a chance missed to make something more of what could be a great dish ! Aubergine can have that lovely smokiness which tastes good in a burger!

  5. Saleem says:

    Will reserve my comments till such time I taste the burger, we will try next time we go.

  6. Shabs says:

    Oh wowowo , the burger looks awesome , I love eggplants , always use them in sandwiches . Gotta try this *slurp*

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Miri – Agreed! I just checked out your blog, and found a bunch of recipes that do right by the aubergine, like your coconutty morsels of vange bhaji.
      …GBK, you folks listenin?

      @Saleem – ah such high standards daddy, but of course, I would have it no other way! The Aubergine burger awaits FatherPan’s Judgement.

      @Shabs – try try try, and blog about it so that the world can understand the awesomeness of a well-made aubergine burger!

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @e179160cd861176321da16c21f45cfe1:disqus – gotchya. thanks for the tip, will try it at some point.

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