Restaurant Review : Johnny Rockets
By: Shivangi Singha
When was the first time you heard of a restaurant chain setting up a swanky location on a cruise ship, taking over an entire stadium’s concession area lock stock and barrel, or encouraging its waiters to draw smiley faces with ketchup on paper plates when serving french fries? Johnny Rockets has achieved all three feats. As they say, let us learn more.
Although this is not meant to be an advertorial for Johnny Rockets and is certainly not one, let me share a little food history trivia with those of you who are trivia buffs before I tell you all about my recent escapade which took me to the restaurant’s location in Cannaught Place in the heart of New Delhi.
In 1999, Royal Caribbean International, the famous cruise line, featured a Johnny Rockets location onboard its flagship cruise liner called Voyager of the Seas. Johnny Rockets was among the first restaurant chains in the world to do so. Then in April 2009, the newly renovated Yankee Stadium opened in New York with Johnny Rockets stands located exclusively throughout the sports arena . These concession stands served traditional Johnny Rockets hamburgers, french fries, shakes, and malts among other delicacies. Even almost 30 years after the restaurant was founded on June 6, 1986 by Ronn Teitelbaum As a 20-stool counter eating place on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles California, Johnny Rockets continues to serve its traditional signature line not only in L.A. and in New Delhi but at almost at 400 locations around the world. Time to start the journey!
Delhiites have embraced the western ethos and culture with open arms for some time now. Breakfast from poha has become puffed cornflakes, traditional jholas have become jimmy choos (sarojini for the win). Even the heart of the capital, Connaught place, has seen a paradigm shift. There are more Subways in the inner circle than Sagar Ratnas.
When we contemplate American cuisine , burgers are the first thing that overwhelm our senses. That said, is the McALoo Tikki a true American delicacy both in spirit and in form? Not really. American cuisine is not just about burgers and shakes , it is also about having a good time and enjoying the moment. Ronn Teitelbaum founded the place with a belief that everyone deserves a place where they can let go of themselves, a place where they can sing, dance, eat, and most importantly, live.
Continuing this belief and still following his guiding principles, Johnny rockets is rapidly expanding with five outlets already in full swing in Delhi NCR. I recently had the opportunity to personally meet the restaurateur behind the action, Mr. Dean. The menu has a variety of burgers, shakes, salads, soda pops and sides.
The ambiance has been given top priority at the Connaught place outlet. The walls are bright with vibrant posters. There are seating options featuring both booths as well as tables. There is an open kitchen right in the center, so you can actually see where all the magic happens.
The most unique manifestation of the Johnny rockets experience is that once every hour, the staff does a flash mob on the latest upbeat tracks. The staff actually undergoes a dance training regime in their efforts to mix art with the senses. So you can expect Justin Bieber’s top track, Sorry roaring through the speakers and your server break dancing around your table! This creates a fun atmosphere and more often than not even the customers join in the shenanigans!
For starters, I had Masala Fries . The fries were served hot. They were crunchy and the masala on top is actually a spice mix of three different spices one of them being peri-peri.
Onion Rings: Perfectly shaped onion rings, round and crispy, is how I will sum up my first impression. I noticed a perfect balance between the zing factor of the onions and the crunchiness of the sourdough batter. If I had to choose, I would give the fries a miss and enjoy the rings with my burger.
Next, I had something to satisfy the carnivorous beast inside me. I tried the CHICKEN BUFFALO WINGS, CHICKEN BBQ WINGS and CHICKEN STRIPS. The strips were crunchy and the meat was succulent. Paired with the ranch dressing, it won the show. They also have a peri peri dip with a twist just in case you are in the mood for something tangy and spicy. The buffalo wings, on the other hand, were nothing out of the ordinary and the chicken BBQ wings needed a little more BBQ sauce slathering on top. They were a little dry for my taste.
Time for some Drinks!
Johnny rockets is famous for their shakes. I was very curious to know what the hype was all about and so I dived right into my CHOCOLATE MADNESS SHAKE. The shakes, I would like to mention here, are served in a fancy Johnny rockets glass with a sumptuous helping of whipped cream on top. Along with this, you also get the tumbler in which the shake was churned in and the tumbler is about half full. So one serving of their shake adds up to about 380 ml (for all the brown people out there, their shakes are full paisa vasool!). The shake has a vanilla ice cream base. The restaurant chain uses original vanilla beans and not the artificial flavoring which they procure directly from farmers in Kerala. The whipped cream on top is 100% dairy and thus it is light, fluffy and full of flavor. I had their Chocolate Madness as well as their Strawberry and Coffee Shake. The chocolate shake was thick, rich and very chocolaty. It tasted just like chocolate mousse in a liquid state. You should give it a try if you happen to be a chocolate lover. I have been in a faithful relationship with chocolate forever, but I think I might have cheated a tad on it this time.
The pretty pink glass sitting on my table took me by surprise. The usual strawberry shakes are a little too pink while this one was a little pale in appearance. This is majorly because no artificial coloring or flavoring was used. The milk had a natural strawberry extract with a dash of sugar syrup. However, it was not excessively sweet . If you ask me , I would suggest that you skip all the other flavors and give the pink beauty a go. They also have a range of soda pops, which are ice- cream floats with a minor variation. You can try them out if you are not in a mood for a thick shake.
And now the main course. Johnny Rockets serves a variety of burgers.
For the meat you have an option of chicken, lamb and tenderloin. For the vegetarians, there is an option between potato, mushroom and paneer patty. They also have an option for the buns. They have yellow potato or whole wheat. For all the people living a gluten free lifestyle, they also have an option where you can skip the bun altogether.
I ordered their SMOKE HOUSE BURGER with a chicken patty in a yellow potato bun. I chose this bun primarily because of the inquisitive food technologist I am. The burger was gigantic and much larger than the usuals from McDonald’s and KFC.
It had a generous helping of protein, cheese and dressing. First bite in, and I understood the difference between the standard sesame bun and their potato bun. This bun was significantly denser and yet soft. It also had a milk and sugar glaze on top to enhance the taste as well as the aesthetic appeal.
In the huge bite that I took of the burger, I first tasted the well grilled chicken, then came the gooey feeling of the cheddar cheese melting in my mouth, next came the crunch of the sourdough onion rings topped off with crispy bacon with a pungent smoky flavor. All this was smothered in a special recipe BBQ- ranch sauce. and all flavors were encapsulated in the sturdy bun. I enjoyed the different textures, the crunchy murmur of the onion rings, the cheesy feel of the cheddar , the succulent meat and the smoky bacon. They say a good dish satisfies all your senses. This burger achieved that distinction.
Because I was already too full, I paired my burger with a light salad. The salad consisted of fresh crispy lettuce and tomatoes in a light vinaigrette dressing. I also had a small bite of the Veggie Wrap which featured veggie fingers, capsicum and onions in a tomato tamarind sauce– a little too Indian in flavor– I would not trade the burger for this at any cost.
By the time my escapade concluded, I was stuffed to the hilt, satisfied and smiling . That is what Johnny Rockets aims to achieve and they achieved it in a true Yankee style.
I recommend Johnny Rockets for an authentic American experience. Give their burgers a try and groove with the staff. Let go of the stress and let the shake do its wonders.
- Taste- 4/5
- Variety – 4/5
- Ambiance- 4.5/5
- Value for Money- 4/5
- Satiety Value -4/5
What: Johnny Rockets
Where: N-3, Radial Road 1, Outer Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Cost for 2: Rs. 1200