The Bangalore Burger Smackdown


BurgerI love burgers. They are, to my mind, the culinary equivalent of commercial cinema: unpretentious,  enjoyable, and either unabashedly good or appallingly bad. Despite what health fanatics would have me believe, I see a burger as a healthy meal containing all four food groups: carbohydrate (the bun), protein (the meat), fiber (lettuce, tomato), and fat (cheese).

The Quest For Bangalore’s Best Burger

A well-made burger is a glorious thing. A juicy, medium-rare patty of lightly seasoned beef nestled comfortably between two slices of soft, sesame-sprinkled bun, and dressed up with tomato, lettuce, cheese, and condiments.

onionMy ideal burger also features bacon and grilled onions. When you bite into it, the bread is soft and fresh; your teeth meet no resistance until they encounter the bacon. At that point, magic happens: the smoky aroma of the bacon transports you to olfactory heaven a split second before you bite down through the crunch of sweetish, caramelized onion and the fruitiness of ripe tomato. You barely have time to register the creaminess of cheese before releasing the meat’s jus. The jus trickles down your thumb to your wrist, taunting your inability to catch every last drop. Ah, heaven!

In pursuit of this burger wet-dream, I decided to rate the offerings of every establishment in Bangalore that stakes its claim to fame on the quality of its burgers. I devised a 25-point checklist for my perfect burger, and then went about gaining five kilos as I ate my way through a smorgasbord of Bangalore burgers.

The Checkpoints

I evaluated eight key parameters:

  • the bun
  • the patty
  • the construction
  • the overall burger experience
  • the toppings
  • the condiments

Each of these was further broken down into specific, weighted attributes which you can see in the table at the end of this post. Each establishment’s burger has been scored (and therefore consumed) twice, and its total scores averaged. A score of 60 would represent a perfect burger (please bear in mind that this is what think of as the perfect burger; you may or may not agree on some of the specifics.)

The contenders…

Ten restaurants, each visited twice. That’s a whopping total of 20 burgers over a four month period. No one can say I don’t do my homework! I decided to divide the offerings into two groups: Group 1, those priced at Rs. 225 or more; and Group 2, those priced below Rs. 225. I know it’s probably unfair to judge the cheaper burgers by the same standards – but to me, a good burger need not be an expensive one.

In contention:
Group 1: The Biere Club Chop House, Hard Rock Cafe,  Monkey Bar,  Plan B, and Thulp
Group 2:  Peppa Zing, The Only Place, Ice and Spice, Indiana, and Bistro Claytopia

These are the restaurants that spring to mind when you say the word “burger” to a Bangalorean.

And The Winners Are…

Here’s how they stack up, with a brief description of the top three:

 

Biere Club Chop House Bangalore burger

The winning burger

The Biere Club Chop House: 59/60
This one was a dark horse. It doesn’t contain bacon, so I never expected it to surpass a MoBar burger, but it did – by virtue of grilled onions and more cheese. The addition of perfectly-done bacon and some extra mayonnaise would have made this one perfect. Price: Rs.450

Monkey Bar Bangalore Burger

Runner up

Monkey Bar: 57.5/60
Monkey Bar was my odds-on favorite to win. Its chances were ruined by overdone – and on one occasion, burnt – bacon, and inadequate cheese. Also, the onions are raw (I prefer them grilled), and mayonnaise is not served unless you request it. Price: Rs. 440

Thulp burger Bangalore

Comfort burger!

Thulp: 45.5/60
I live next door to Thulp, so I think of their burgers as my trusty neighborhood comfort-burgers. Thulp lost points for not providing doneness options, not grilling their onion, and using processed cheese – too little of it. Notice the huge gap between Thulp’s score and that of the other two winners;  notice also the commensurate price differential (as opposed to the other two, Thulp is a cafe rather than a bar or restaurant.) Price: Rs.240

Hard Rock Cafe (the most expensive burger in this group at Rs. 560) came in at 37.5, and Plan B, whose burger is priced considerably lower at Rs.315, scored (coincidence?) 31.5.

Group 2

Bistro Claytopia

Mustard? No, ketchup! WTF?

Most burgers in Group 2 were sub-standard. All, with the exception of The Only Place, were lamb. Given that, Peppa Zzing (Rs. 210) tops with a score of 42 (better than HRC, my friends!) followed by The Only Place (Rs.140) at 36.5 and Ice and Spice (Rs.130) at 34. Old-favorite Indiana (Rs. 130) scored a dismal 25 (representing the death of nostalgia for an entire generation of Bangaloreans) and Bistro Claytopia in Koramangala (Rs. 125) limped in last with 24 out of 60. [Aside: Claytopia serves ketchup in mustard bottles. What’s with that, dude?]

How It Was Done

Below are the parameters for my Bangalore Burger Smackdown. One point awarded for a “yes” to each parameter, and the total points for each section multiplied by the weightage given to that section. Your idea of a perfect burger may differ from mine – if so, feel free to conduct this exercise for yourself and report your own results!

 Weightage
Patty   X 5
Beef? 1
Juicy? 1
Made to order? 1
Chunky texture? 1
4 20
Bun  x 4
Soft? 1
Right size vis a vis patty? 1
Zero crumbling? 1
Zero sogginess? 1
4 16
Construction  x 3
Easy to cut in half? 1
Everything stays together till finished? 1
Comfortable size for hands and mouth? 1
3 9
Overall  x 2
Was this a great burger experience? 1
Was it worth the price? 1
Would you come back for it? 1
3 6
Cheese  x 1
Natural cheese? 1
Well-melted? 1
Enough to cover the patty? 1
Enough to taste? 1
4 4
Bacon  x 0.5
Enough to taste? 1
Neither crisp nor chewy? 1
2 1
Other Toppings  x 0.5
Grilled onion? 1
Tomato? 1
Crisp lettuce? 1
Dill pickles? 1
4 2
Condiments  x 1
Mustard, mayo and ketchup? 1
Other sauce absent or minimal? 1
2 2
 TOTAL SCORE 60
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39 thoughts on “The Bangalore Burger Smackdown

  1. Fantastic write up / review ,suman, on my all time favorite food ‘the b’lore burger’……. Left me with my mouth watering….and i’m nowhere close to a b’lore burger….but i’m going to lay my hands on one….the minute i set foot in b’lore..!! Don’t they serve mayonnese any more with the indiana burger…?

    • Hey Monica!

      Thank you for reading. Yes, they still serve the mayonnaise, and it tastes more or less the same. But the burger – sheesh! Either it has gone downhill like a toddler on a tricycle, or (more likely) we just didn’t know better!

  2. When I left Bangalore 4 years ago I found the best burgers to be at Millers 46. You did have to request the kitchen to also put bacon on your cheese burger though. Their menu had a baconburger and hamburger with cheese, but none with the holy trifecta…

    Not sure if they’re still around (millers street #46), but worth checking out if they are.

  3. Loved going through this review Suman! As objective as possible – takes the speculation of bias out of it. Great reference for burger-hunters!! 🙂

  4. Oh wow. You did not mind putting on 5Kgs for this report.

    I loved Indiana burgers. So sad to see it score so low. I really never had better veg burgers than the ones at Indiana. I wonder where to go for good Burgers. (I am a veggie you see). The one in Monkey bar was the closest. I must say, it is a bit too expensive though.

    Will you be doing a similar one for Pizzas???

  5. Ah the thulp one…i had one yesterday…instead of bacon there were goan pork sausages…it was really good…the patty is the best part of the thulp burger and since this was with the sausages it came with the caramelized onions and tomatoes and didn’t require the cheese…

  6. I tried the Bierre Club burger based on your recommendation and it was terrible. The bun was extremely dry, the meat overcooked, and it was worth neither the price nor the #1 rating here. HRC was much better.

  7. Nice writeup! Although you have missed out one particular burger heaven – Willy Vanilly in Koramanagala. Please try it out…I have a feeling you will be updating this post!

  8. Hey burger hunters if we guys are looking out for any Veg burgers the good place to search for it is (Chettys corner) Sheshadripuram near kumara park.
    Get all kind of yummy burgers at a low price

  9. Suman great review, mouth in tears……. This reminds me of an experience a long time back. It was at a fair, the construction was a medium sized patty with a soft bun. The bun was lightly toasted with the run off fat from the patty….. Oh GOD…..

  10. Lovely list! Thank you. Two others not on this list that I’ve loved at least as much as The MoBar burger: The beef (they call it “tenderloin” iirc) burger at Cafe Noir, and the pulled pork burger whenever Manjit puts it on the Herbs & Spice day’s specials chalkboard (loses out on the beef content, yes, but what it gains in fine swine…). I’ve had all three several times each and there hasn’t been an off day so far.
    I did possibly have an off day with the Biere Club Chop House burger – but too much beer may have killed my taste buds.

  11. Wow!! Great Review Suman. This post is right up my alley. Its 11am and I am already hungry..
    Since you like grilled onions….have you tried the burger at Cafe Noir?

  12. I love the Gonzeshwara at Thulp 🙂

    Also, tried the beef burger @ Blimey! (1 MG Road Mall). It was pretty good. The waiter asked me how I would like my meat, and the burger came loaded with bacon and cheese. Do try it out.

  13. Thanks for the write up. I would highly recommend the windmills craftworks burger with the blue cheese. One of the better burgers I’ve had in India

  14. Nice review. I actually prefer the 6 oz. burger at HRC to the 10 oz. You should try that one as well.
    Also, the buffalo meat mushroom burger at Chilli’s is pretty good too (I tried it at the Phoenix Market City outlet). You should give it a shot.

  15. 10 pts for getting all the criteria.. homework well done… hallmarks of a brilliant review.. . however in my search for the true burger, bangalore has let me down so far.. in most places the beef (if they serve it) is dry….and the bun is not worth talking about.. Mobar was a massive blob.. with almost no seasoning or juice.. ill put that down to the meat having no fat content or improper refrigeration. still have to try to try B club’s burger.. also.. what are your thoughts about a fried egg on a burger.. a well constructed burger is a beautiful thing… the search continues..

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