There’s a special kind of pressure reserved for cool international restaurant and bar brands making their debut in the UAE. Not many native launches enjoy the same hype, but then nor are they faced with such sky-high expectations on opening.
So, following weeks of monster burger and scroll-stopping shake teasers on social media, does New York import Black Tap measure up?
Set in the grounds of Jumeirah Al Naseem, the burger restaurant’s casual, industrial interiors open out onto a terrace overlooking the waters of the central Turtle Lagoon. With a mix of old-school hip-hop playing in the background, retro car seats tucked under dining tables and cold craft hops behind the bar, it feels every inch a trendy, grown-up place to get your American food fix. (Though catching sight of the enormous, rainbow-hued shakes could see your inner child take over the ordering.)
Perusing a menu split into burgers, salads and sides, with tacos, fish and chips and wings dotted around the edges, we start with guac and chips and beef tacos, before delving into the main – and most ubiquitously Instagrammed – event. Piled with chilli con carne, salsa and sour cream, and encased in corn tortillas, the tacos are rich, savoury and moreish, but so filling that alarm bells start to ring when the belly-busting burgers arrive moments later (some work needs to be done on the pacing).
Having spent so much time ogling Black Tap’s stacked beauties on the internet before arriving, we’re surprised that our classic All-American and barbecue sauce-laden Texan burgers arrive somewhat dismantled.
But while the aesthetics aren’t quite what we expected, everything else is spot on. Pillow-soft potato buns give way to perfectly cooked, juicy meat, and the special sauce – a kind of spicy thousand island – is just that. Unless you’re fanatical about fries, opt for the onion rings – thick allium hoops so fresh and delicately battered we’re on the verge of declaring them one of our five a day.
Black Tap’s burgers might not stand as tall as they’ve been teased to, but as for whether they’re any good – the proof is in the fact that you almost certainly won’t have room for pudding.
The bill (for two) 1x guac and chips Dhs35 1x beef tacos Dhs50 1x American burger Dhs65 1x Texan burger Dhs85 1x side onion rings Dhs15 1x large water Dhs35 Total (including service) Dhs285
The bottom line Mighty, meaty burgers in a cool, contemporary setting.