A Slider For Every Palate

When compared to burgers, sliders are smaller, pack in lesser ingredients and are supposed to be finished in maximum three bites. So why would anyone want to have a slider instead of a burger? According to restaurateur Ketan Kadam, it is because they are smaller, pack in lesser ingredients and are supposed to be finished in maximum three bites. “So you can have three slider varieties instead of chomping on one burger. Order a basket of fries and a platter of sliders, and you have the perfect meal to share with friends,” he adds.

The man has a point there, except for one niggling hitch. A McAloo Tikki at McDonald’s costs INR 25, its Chicken McGrill costs INR 40, while KFC’s Veg Rocking burger costs INR 65. As compared to this, Sliders’ slider costs between INR. 60 – 65, and it is half the size of its competitors’ burgers. This is hardly a compelling proposition to get more people to choose a slider over a burger.

Ketan says that the Bandra outlet of Sliders is the litmus test for the concept, where he wants customers to understand what sliders are. He plans to open two more outlets in the next six months, where most of the processes will be outsourced. With this scalability model in place, he is confident that the prices of his sliders will match those of McDonald’s and KFC.

Currently, Sliders shares space with Maroosh, the Lebanese restaurant chain owned by Ketan’s Impresa Hospitality Management. One end of the room has four sets of high chairs and tables for Sliders’ customers, while the other end has regular seating for Maroosh’s customers. The upside is that customers can order from either Sliders or Maroosh, which also works in the favor of both establishments, especially newbie Sliders which is leveraging on Maroosh’s footfalls.

The grainy and juicy beef pieces in the Philly Steak Slider were a treat, and we were tempted to have it sans the slider.
The grainy and juicy beef pieces in the Philly Steak Slider were a treat, and we were tempted to have it sans the slider.

SLIDERS AND MORE

Chef Ravi Syal, the culinary consultant for Sliders, put together the menu for Sliders in under two months and took some creative liberties with it. Unlike the original White Castle sliders, his patties are not square, but circular. The two-page menu has just 16 sliders with five vegetarian options. Soon, though, the outlet will have the concept of make-your-own-slider so the limited options will not be an issue for customers. Also, Chef Ravi promises that the menu is a work in progress and he will replace some existing options with others.

The good thing about the elfin burgers at Sliders is that you can truly have three at a go. We tried the Mac & Cheese slider (INR 60), which had macaroni and cheese shaped into a patty and slapped between the buns. We found it too bland, but it might appeal to kids who take an immediate liking to anything that has Mac-n-Cheese in its name. The Jalapeno Popper (INR 60) was too mild, but Chef Ravi mentioned he usually made the patties with fresh jalapeno which gave it a sharp bite, but he could not get it the day we visited.

What really hit the spot for us was the Philly Steak Slider (INR 65). The chef uses prime undercut beef for the patty, seasons it with salt, pepper, mustard sauce and BBQ sauce, cooks it in butter, and serves it with fried onions and cheese. The grainy and juicy beef pieces were a treat, and we were tempted to have it sans the slider. This is the most-ordered item on the menu, followed by the BBQ Chicken (INR 65), which was succulent and can definitely give a McDonald’s chicken burger a sprint for its money.

When the Original (INR 65) came to our table, we actually opened the bun to see if the patty had five holes in it, which the original White Castle sliders possesses and which allows it to be steam-grilled over the onions. Sadly, the holes were missing, but we could not complain about the beef mince patty served with cheese, mayo and gherkins.

The Thai Fries, tossed in red Thai chilly sauce, roasted peanuts and Sriracha, were definitely a better choice than the Cheesy Fries.
The Thai Fries, tossed in red Thai chilly sauce, roasted peanuts and Sriracha, were definitely a better choice than the Cheesy Fries.

NOT ALL GREAT

To accompany the sliders, we had Strawberry Rush (INR 110), which frankly was no great shake (pun intended). The Nutella Coffee (INR 110) was regular coffee milkshake with a barely-there flavor of Nutella. Given that the beverages are priced higher than the mains, we hope that Sliders introduces more coolers and cocktails that will complement the main offerings.

We also had a basket of Cheesy Fries (INR 90). While youngsters will go for it because a burger without fries is sacrilegious according to them – as evidenced by my 20-year old guest – the fries were too limp for our liking, even the ones that were not drizzled with mustard sauce, mayo and melted cheese. The Thai Fries (INR 90), tossed in red Thai chilly sauce, roasted peanuts and Sriracha, sounded more promising. They were definitely a better choice than the earlier fries, though the peanuts did a disappearing act.

The desserts section had just Brownie Slider (INR 70), since the Ice Cream Profiteroles have been discontinued. The Brownie Slider had two thin slabs of brownie filled with chocolate sauce and berry compote placed within a slider bun, the top of which was lightly caramelized. The saltiness of the cream cheese thankfully balances out the overt sweetness of the dessert. Incidentally, this dessert found favor with my young guest who enthusiastically polished it off within a minute!

This underlined Ketan’s belief that youngsters will take to the concept of sliders with ease. After all, this casual restaurant is close to three colleges on a street that is a shopping Mecca. Youngsters who want to try something other than the burgers from the nearby KFC and McDonald’s outlets can opt for a platter of sliders to share – without their pockets feeling the pinch. We can see why Ketan is optimistic about his concept. And when you learn that an astute investor like UTV honcho Ronnie Screwvala has picked a 43% stake in Ketan’s business, you know Sliders is in for the long haul.