THE DISH: Newest Mama Rocks branch off to a great start

Mama Rocks has some of the best burgers in Nairobi, hands down.

The interior of Mama Rocks Kilimani by night. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

IN SUMMARY

  • When restaurants decide to open a new branch there's always a risk that something will go left with the new outlet.
  • You can't exactly duplicate the exact same team, you don't know what will happen when you're bringing on new people.

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When restaurants are enjoying a bit of success and they decide to open another branch or launch into a fully blown franchise, I'm always a little apprehensive of what will happen with their part 2s – sequels, so to speak.

There's always a risk that something will go left with the new outlet, now that the attention, service, and quality control has to be divided. It's a wider scope.

And when you can't exactly duplicate the exact same team, you don't know what will happen when you're bringing on a whole bunch of new people.

This is what I was scared of with Mama Rocks. I love the little food truck at Mama Rocks. I think the ambience is significantly lacking – but of course it is – it is a food truck, not a fine dining restaurant.

Granted, there is a seating area for patrons of the outer area food truck, but it isn't exactly cosy, or specialised. Which, again, is fine. It's a food truck. You can't come there expecting plush seating and warm lighting, right? But it is still something I want.

I think this want was echoed by many people every time they went to this food truck with its delectable – and inventive! - burgers, which is why they decided to open up a branch with actual seats, dedicated to Mama Rocks, across the entrance of Kilimani Primary School.

The turning is very easy to miss, but if you get confused like me, remember, it isn't the Divino one, it's the turning that has the garage in it. Just slow down once you pass Galana Road.

BEST BURGERS IN TOWN

The burgers at the original Mama Rocks, for me, are hands down some of the best burgers in Nairobi. I'm particularly partial to the Fela Supa burger, which I tend to have almost every time I go there, and their peanut butter shake (Monkey Business, they call it. And it's the business).

I'm generally a fan of peanut-flavoured anything, and the Fela Supa burger has a peanut encrusted patty that is to die for.

A cocktail at Mama Rocks Kilimani. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA 

Their burgers during their specials season are excellent as well. I once had a burger-I can't remember because it isn't on the regular menu - that had cranberry sauce on top of the patty whose sour sweet flavourings I still remember to this day, and await anxiously for it to be brought back.

This, perhaps, is what I appreciate most about Mama Rocks – their combination and incorporation of traditionally African flavours in avant garde, urban ways.

I'm not wild about the service, if I'm being honest. During things like Burger Week and super busy weekend nights, you can wait for up to two hours to get a burger which means that sometimes there's a problem in the demand, or I just assume someone has fainted with joy from all the good stuff they're making and they need an hour to revive them. Either way, that needs to be worked on.

There was a lovely waitress the last time I was there during one of these busy nights who was very conscientious, even though the burgers were late, and went well out of her way to make sure we were comfortable. Her name was Nicole, I believe.

Staff like that makes it easier to wait for taste-bud heaven.

So, was my faith in franchises – or rather, sequels – restored at the Kilimani branch?

I think they're off to a very good start. They've been open in Kilimani for a couple of months now, and by the time I visited, it was around World Cup season.

One of the games wasn't showing, even though they had flags there advertising that they would be showing the games, which is why we walked in in the first place. We eventually got the last hour of the game, which was good enough, as it was thankfully, not a final.

The service is still a bit slow, but the skilled bartender is good, and the cocktails are balanced in terms of sweetness and alcohol.

I really like the fact that there are comfortable couches, and a few of their quirky ankara or African décor touches. I also like phrases in pidgin on the walls, and colourful sofa arrangements, and, a swing in the furthest corner from the door that adds a whimsical touch to the wood-hewn space.

Since this new space opened, I haven't even been to the one at Westlands, so I suppose that says a lot about the ultimate bottom line – which is that their burgers are still the bomb.

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Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.

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