Greenside is more than just a strip of bars and lounges. It is an essential component of the Johannesburg nightlife scene, which seamlessly brings together tweens, teens and young twenties alike. The strip is also home to one top-notch restaurant called Duke’s, a unique gourmet burger joint that unites meat lovers and vegetarians.
A local Joburg journalist introduced me and my fellow residency students to Duke’s early on during our time abroad and it became an instant favorite.
A meal at Duke’s begins with “something to nibble on,” such as deep fried potato skins with rosemary and garlic topped with melted feta cheese, known as the Mr. Potato Head, or Mielie Poppers, jalapeño corn fritters served with sour cream and mango red pepper chutney. The menu then splits up into five different burger categories: beef, lamb, chicken, ostrich and vegetarian. With 36 burger options and salads for those seeking less of an indulgence, there really is something for everyone.
Each burger has been given a unique and creative name, from the Fidel Castro (a hearty beef patty flamed in tequila served with tomato relish and topped with jalapeños, a spicy tomato, baby corn salsa and cucumber ribbons) to the Ghandi (a red lentil and chickpea patty on a bed of rocket topped with a peppadew and red pepper chutney, sour cream and cucumber ribbons) to the Big Kahuna (a chicken fillet with tomato relish served with slivers of grilled pineapple and onion, crispy bacon topped with melted cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and cucumber ribbons).
I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite burger, but I can list a few of my personal preferences. From the chicken section, I love Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater, which is a chicken fillet, grilled with a lemon and thyme marinade, on a bed of greens and tomato relish, topped with garlic and ginger roasted butternut squash and a sundried tomato aioli with cucumber ribbons. The two standouts from the beef section are The Big Cheese (a hearty beef patty with tomato relish, melted cheddar, mozzarella and feta, topped with cucumber ribbons) and The Italian Job (a juicy beef patty with tomato relish, topped with a tomato, olive and basil dressing complemented with parmesan and cucumber ribbons). And of course, one can’t forget the deliciously crispy sweet potato wedges and French fries dressed with a balsamic drizzle, which are welcomed side additions to the meal.
I could go on about this restaurant for a while, but I’ll conclude by mentioning the ambiance and the milkshakes. The entrance to Duke’s is nothing to note, however, inside you will find large, crystal chandeliers, gold framed mirrors, velvet couches and plush, purple walls. Another highlight is the outdoor area, an insulated courtyard offering customers an alfresco dining experience. The only drawback of Duke’s is that there is often a long wait and the service, although friendly, can be slow on busy nights.
The key to a truly successful night at Duke’s is ending the meal with a milkshake. Choices range from chocolate ganache, toffee and fudge, ginger bread and Oreo and Ferrero Rocher…I’d definitely leave room for dessert.