Ailsa Whyatt visits the newly opened Black Tap for burgers galore and shakes beyond reason.

It’s Wednesday evening and we are in Mall of Qatar, heading to the newly opened Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes. Black Tap hails from Downtown NYC and has been steadily expanding globally, bringing its gastro burgers and (absolutely) CrazyShakes to the world. It’s a self-confessed stalwart of the Instagram generation and nobody can deny that their whimsical CrazyShakes are a kooky art form in themselves and yes, we do take MANY pictures.

Our lovely server Jex seats us; we sit outside the main restaurant to enjoy the fountains, the waterwall and the greenery in the Food Court. Don’t miss out on a trip inside though. You can sit in booths, which form the ‘speakers’ of an old-fashioned stereo. Be dazzled by bright lights and spot black and white base décor, walls of graffiti and finally the CrazyShake bar: an Aladdin’s Cave of nostalgic sweetie jars, where these creations (and make no mistake, they really are creations to behold) are whipped up.

Restaurant Manager Majd serves us a Kiwi Ginger Mule mocktail – beautifully presented in a hammered copper tankard, topped with a slice of fresh kiwi and dried ginger – and then the food commences. Atomic Shrimp, Teriyaki Broccoli, Guac & Chips and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders are delivered, all served on blackrimmed white dishes. There is nothing worse than overcooked veg – I like my greens to be just that, green. The Teriyaki Broccoli is exactly the injection of health we need to satisfy ourselves that we can now indulge with impunity. It packs the perfect crunch, with just a hint of char, and is drizzled in a moreish gingery teriyaki sauce. If you are a fan of chicken tenders, look no further! It is rare to find un-greasy ones, but Black Tap have succeeded. The Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders are succulent and soft, served with three dips, my personal favourite being the buttermilk-dill. Dill is, in my opinion, a much-maligned herb, relegated too frequently to the ranks of ‘must only be served with salmon’. At Black Tap they use it in a number of their dishes, and they are all the better for it.

And so, to burgers. If you are a fan of meat, meat and more meat, try The Mulberry Street Burger. Not only is the patty juicy and perfectly cooked (incidentally made with Greater Omaha USA Beef, a standard upheld across the Black Tap brand for all burgers), but it’s served in a potato bun and then laden with beef bresaola and beef salami, not to mention provolone and parmesan, and spiced up with some hot cherry peppers for a bit of umph.

If a bit of smoky barbeque flavour (and dill, of course) is your thing then I can wholeheartedly recommend The Carolina Burger. Another medium-rare patty, oozing with flavour, smoky pulled beef (which has spent nearly four hours readying itself for your plate), crunchy coleslaw, buttermilk dill and American cheese, all combine to make ‘an orchestra of yum’ play out in my mouth.

There is a burger for everyone here – vegan beef patties topped with mushrooms and horseradish; truffles; even pear bacon and jam with blue cheese – to name but a few, as well as a further list of add-ons, if you can find space on your burger. There are also chicken and fish options, burger salads and a children’s menu for younger diners.

The pièce de résistance? CrazyShakes. We are immediately transported back to the sweetie shops of our childhoods as gum balls, stack up ice lollies, rainbow popcorn, Skittles, m&m’s, peanut butter cups, pretzel sticks, OREOs, whirly pops, candyfloss and so many more, adorn a range of the most impressive shakes I have ever seen. These shakes are fun, and quite the production – dinner and a show has never been easier! They are all so stunningly presented that we can’t help but sample four CrazyShakes… Cookies ‘N Cream Supreme (OREO shake), Cotton Candy (strawberry), Old School Drive In (bubble gum) and Sweet ‘N Salty (peanut butter shake). Each shake has its own personality and flavour, but what they all have in common is the edible decorations encrusting the frosting on the glasses, whipped cream, drizzles of sauce and garnishes of sweets. You would be forgiven for thinking you had arrived in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory shake room – you really have to see them to believe them, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from taking a photo.

Having opened its doors on May 8, 2022, Black Tap is a newbie to the Qatar scene, but there is no outward appearance of it being anything other than a well-established, truly gourmet burger joint, with the added theatre of its over-the-top, back-to-school CrazyShakes. The company’s stated mission is ‘Fun. Familiar. Genuine. Quality.’ They have nailed it. ✤