Can Nusret’s second Dubai venue possibly live up to the hype?

A great burger is a thing of beauty – a satisfying, messy manifestation of all things delicious: juicy, greasy beef, and high quality gooey cheese bathed in ketchup (maybe a little mayo, too) and incased in a soft bun. Everyone has a favourite in Dubai, whether it’s Shake Shack, Pickl, Five Guys or Salt, the battle of the best burger in Dubai is a minefield.

But the latest addition to the city comes with a pedigree – a butcher-turned-salt-sprinkling-Instagram-sensation so famous he’s garnered nearly 24 million Instagram followers.

Nusret Gökçe, aka Salt Bae’s newest restaurant, aptly named Saltbae Burger, opened to much fanfare late last year with queues running out the door. Thankfully, our 4pm weekday visit in a bid to miss the queues worked well, and the restaurant was only half-full when we arrived.

The venue has an odd industrial-meets-sports-bar feel. The tables are marble; there’s a long bar lit up by green florescent lights; and a huge self portrait of Nusret’s now infamous meme is emblazoned on one wall.

The menu lists seven burger varieties (ranging from a wet burger for Dhs50 to a whopping gold-leafed Dhs500 burger), plus a selection of fries and milkshakes. All burgers and fries are served on jailbird-style metal trays with a black latex glove to protect you from greasy fingers. It’s part gimmick part necessity.

You might also like

Bussola to give away free takeaway pizza this Sunday
6 unlimited dim sum deals to try in Dubai this weekend
Enjoy 5 hours of unlimited pizza when you buy a drink at this Dubai beach bar

The Juicy Burger (Dhs100) is a beef and smoked rib eye mix with caramelised onion and cheddar cheese. On appearances it looked like a decent burger, but the bun looked a bit dry. We much prefer the soft potato rolls to the doughy sesame buns served here.

The meat was extremely juicy. So juicy, in fact, that the fat dribbled down the side of the bun at speed after every bite. After a while it was a bit off putting and the boring bun further let the side down. Similarly the french fries were bland. They lacked any crispiness and tasted cold.

Much better were the parmesan truffle fries (Dhs45), which came out warm with a hefty sprinkling of cheese. The other surprise hit was the vegetarian burger, a deep-fried zucchini cake with tzatziki. It was comforting and flavourful, and – amazingly – free for ladies every day.

Ultimately, we had hoped for more from the meat master. With only okay burgers and passable French fries, we won’t be rushing back in a hurry.

Saltbae Burger DIFC, Gate Village Building 2, DIFC, Dubai, Sun to Weds 11.30am to 12am, Thur to Sat 11.30am to 3am. Tel: (04) 235 7900.

Images: Jade Wills Photography