You “Roco” my world

After the 7th day of rest, God was hungry. So, on the 8th day, God created hamburgers. As time ticked on, God was never pleased with what was created and His appetite was never truly satisfied… Till now.

After all the hype around Rocomamas, my wife, Germaine, and I took a trip to the Roco’s in Pinesslopes, Jozi, to settle an insatiable craving for ribs and a burger. We arrived to the soundtrack of “Foo Fighters – Let It Die” and were met by a gentleman with a clipboard who asked if we were eating in or out? After telling him we would prefer an eat in experience, he took down our name and asked if we wouldn’t mind waiting for a couple minutes.

While waiting for our table, I looked around and inner monologued my way through my observations. Roco’s didn’t appear to be anything new, it was like a nostalgic trip to a fancy and slightly more updated version of a diner in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg that served supposedly good food. After roughly 2 minutes, we were met by another very helpful and enthusiastic gentleman, holding 2 pads and a couple of pens, that showed us to our table, via the open plan kitchen. It was there that I paused for a moment as the actuality of what made Rocomamas unique, dawned upon me.

What Roco’s produces in their kitchen wonderland is 150g of minced beef, smashed into a patty shape and prepared just before hitting the grill, while the seeded buns slowly catch a tan to a slightly toasted shade of perfection. My appetite-o-meter went from kind of hungry to ravenously famished, in an instant, but I was encouraged to move along by Germaine, as we were sat at our table with pens and pads in front of our respective seats. At first I felt like I was about to take part in some sort of multiple choice exam, until I realised that the Andiccio’s ordering methodology was the way we ordered our food. 100% customisable burgers, ribs and wings? Is this what the food industry the world over has been missing? I skimmed through the deliciously garnished suggestions that occupy the top left hand side of the A5 page, then looked to the right hand side and decided that with a list of toppings like that, I was selling myself short by ordering a predetermined burger option. I didn’t even scroll down the list of options to see what I thought I would like, I just went down the list and ticked the check box to my every desire. Smoked Mayo? Could you actually ever really improve on the worlds most perfect condiment? Carmelised onion, Emmenthal cheese, mushrooms, bacon, pickles and more of the usual burger accompanying suspects are on that list of toppings, as well as an extra 150g smashed beef patty. Once done selecting your burger and toppings, your eyes travel down the page to meet the headings of “Ribs” and “Wings”. And again, the variations in amounts of and flavours leaves you drooling and excited enough to just tick the entire bottom half of the page. We elected to go for the 1/2 rack of Sweet Fire Ribs, accompanied by 4 Peri Peri wings with a blue cheese dip.

By the time our pages left the table, it looked like the an exam of destined failure with all the X’s. Our fate was sealed with us having to write our names on the bottom of the pages and handed to our waiter (who had done all his dining assistant duties of bringing drinks to the table and making sure we had the appropriate hardware to enjoy our meal). As we chatted our way through our waiting period, neither Germaine nor I, could continuously speak to one another for longer than a couple seconds as we suffered mild whip lash from seeing what else everyone had ordered. The feeling of the inevitable order envy and self doubt was starting to creep in. Have I ordered correctly? What did they order that I didn’t? I didn’t see that on the menu? And before long, an unfamiliar voice calls over my shoulder “Tyrone” to which I exclaim that I am indeed the person that that burger is destined to be inhaled by. A wooden board frameing my burger, accompanied by a miniature deep frying cage playing host to my shoe string fries, is placed in front of me. Next to arrive are the ribs and wings to our exact request and a surge of deliciousness intoxicates our noses.

I take a moment to compose myself, only further perpetuating my desire to tuck in, as I reach for my knife and fork. It was then that my outer self would’ve stood up and backhanded my actual self straight through my face for foolishly even considering using a knife and fork for what is a food that is best enjoyed el natural. I pick up my 150g burger – generously garnished with Emmenthal cheese, Bacon, Mushrooms, Caremlised Red Onion and of course, Smoked Mayo – with my hands and anchor my elbows to the table as I lift my burger perfection towards my mouth and I lean my mouth towards it. The adulterous bite takes place and I look to Germaine, only to see her in a way that I thought only I had made her feel, as she sinks her teeth into her Sweet Fire Ribs. We momentarily regain eye contact and both blush, look back down and allow the adultry to continue. After some time, I eventually stop eating out of necessity to allow air into my lungs and look to Germaine who elegantly and femininely licks the tips of her fingers covered in Sweet Fire basting. “Oh my” we simultaneously exclaim. I continue by saying “I want to eat this everyday of my entire life. And I hope I live to at least 200 if thats the case.” “I know what you mean,” Germaine says. “If I’m ever on death row, please just tick the entire page as my last meal.” As we both let out a satisfying chuckles, we return to our meal. While I love my meat to literally have its last moo on my plate, my medium, perfectly seasoned, charred and caramelised patty with a moist, juicy and pink centre was all I could’ve ever asked for. Add to that the crispy bacon, the creamy Emmenthal and Smoked mayo, the sweetness of the Red Onions, the earthiness of the mushrooms and the freshness of the tomato and fresh red onion. I lean over and stealthily steal a little sample of both the ribs and wings. The ribs are coated in the sticky sweet and spicy basting and tender enough for a senior citizen to eat without their dentures inserted. The Peri Peri wings were the exact heat and cooked to perfection. Everything is celebrated in a symphony of flavour that once your meal is done, leaves you in a bubble of euphoria and ecstasy. Pure culinary perfection.

After the indulging, I sat back, wiped my face, looked at Germaine and was at a pure loss for words. She just looked at me, nodded and said “I know.” No sooner had we finished everything, our friendly waiter came to the table and asked us personally if everything was to our satisfaction and if we enjoyed our meal. He said he didn’t want to ask us during our meal because it would mean that we would’ve needed to answer with our mouths full of food and our facial expressions pretty much said it all. After we settled the bill and started making our way back to the car, I turned around and looked back just to take it in one last time. A restaurant full of smiles, both the patrons and the staff. Food made with love and enjoyed with the same feelings in mind. A place that makes a burger fit for a king. Nay… God himself.

Thank you Roco’s for a truly amazing dining experience where quality food and service make for an inevitable return time after time.