Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beyond Meat's Beast Burger

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After hearing so much hype about Beyond Meat’s new “Beast Burger”, I had been stalking the frozen food aisles waiting for it to appear in NYC. I really like Beyond Meat’s fake “chicken” strips, so I was excited to see what their take on a burger would be. Finally, I found the Beast Burgers – just a few blocks from my new apartment in Astoria!

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At $5.29 for a pack of 2 patties, this is not the most economical frozen veggie burger patty available – but the patties are much larger than normal! And Beyond Meat boasts that this vegan patty contains more protein and more iron than beef – so that’s pretty impressive, and maybe worth the extra cost. And they’re both gluten-free and soy-free.

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Seriously, I can’t emphasize enough how large these patties are – I had to pull out my biggest frying pan to fit two in side by side! I fried them in a little olive oil for about 8 minutes, flipping them a few times throughout. The patties come with “grill marks” on one side. For aesthetic reasons, I guess.

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Yup, so large that the patty was too big for my normal-sized hamburger buns! But that’s okay – the patty felt sturdy and at no risk for crumbling over the edges of the bun. You can see how it browned up after it cooked all the way through.

I topped my burger with some lettuce, pickled red onions (my new homemade obsession – so easy, so delicious! Pickled onions will grace all of my burgers from now on!) and horseradish sauce (also a recent obsession, now that I’ve realized you can buy it at the store!).

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Biting into it, the first thing I noticed was the texture: It was pretty dense (packed with all that protein and nutrients?), and obviously aiming for a meat-like feel. It’s been well over a decade since I last ate a burger made of beef, but I still don’t think this Beast Burger is an exact replica of that texture, as some reviews I read online have claimed. But it was still a little more dense and chewy than I would have liked. And despite my fears that it would be too oily after being fried in a pan, I thought it was a bit on the dry side as well. Luckily, the toppings I had put on it made up for that.

Flavor-wise, I was surprised that it was kind of, well… bland. It tasted slightly “meaty”, not distinctly of any one flavor or seasoning, just a general protein-y, savory flavor. But I had hoped it would have more seasoning or some kind of kick of spice to it - but then, that’s something that can easily be remedied with toppings. And people who don't like spicy things might prefer this burger. My boyfriend the omnivore was game to try the second patty I had cooked, and he actually ate the whole thing and said it was quite filling and he didn’t feel like he needed to go eat some meat afterwards (like some vegetarian meals make him feel) – but he did say that the taste and texture reminded him of “that one time that I ate a piece of cardboard”. (FYI, he has eaten other veggie burgers that he liked better! But usually the ones that aren’t trying to look and taste like meat).

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Ultimately, while I was not blown away by the Beast Burger, and while I may have had expectations that were a bit too high after reading all the hype online, this is still a very solid store-bought burger – definitely one of the best of the faux-meat varieties that are out there today. Not to mention all the health benefits that make it a better alternative to most other frozen veggie burgers in the grocery stores.

I’d like to give these burgers a try on the barbecue grill too, although sadly since moving apartments I no longer have space to keep my own grill – so I’ll have to hope I get invited to a lot of barbecues this summer (hint, hint, NYC friends!). Beyond Meat also makes a smaller “slider” version of this burger, called “Beastly Sliders”. I have a box of those sitting in my freezer as well, so I’ll be giving them a try soon too!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Beyond Meat’s Beast Burger
purchased at: Greenbay Marketplace in Astoria, NY
check Beyond Meat’s website to see where they may be sold near you.
price: $5.29 for 2 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #157

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Street Natural

Spring Street Natural has become one of my go-to spots in Soho. It has a lot of healthy, vegetarian options (as well as options for your omnivore friends), and it’s a huge restaurant so it’s rarely too crowded. You can almost always get a table – yes, even at brunch on the weekends!

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I had eaten here a few times before I finally tried the veggie burger – the menu said it was made in-house, and I was intrigued by the fact that it had almonds in it! The waiter told me that it would be completely vegan if I ordered it without the cheese (which I did) – but by default it comes topped with cheddar.

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The burger arrived topped with lettuce, tomato, and had a Dijon mayo (presumably not vegan, but double-check) served on the side. I tried a bit of the Dijon mayo on my burger, and although I’m not a big mustard fan, it added a nice note of flavor to the whole burger, since without the cheese there wasn't much in the way of toppings.

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The toasted sesame bun was soft and very fresh – I should add that Spring Street Natural always puts a small bread basket on the table at the beginning of the meal, and I’ve enjoyed every bit of bread I’ve eaten from this establishment. I probably ate some bread even before my burger arrived, if I recall correctly. I can't help it, I see a basket of bread slices and I just have to try them all!

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The patty itself was definitely house-made, and as you can see, packed full of veggies and grains. It was quite mushy, and although you can’t necessarily tell from the photos, lacked that nice crispy outside that I prefer on my burgers. Unfortunately, it was also a bit bland too. I was hoping for a stronger, more exciting flavor! I really didn't taste the almonds either.

It wasn’t a bad burger, indeed it was quite hearty and filling and I couldn’t finish the whole thing (probably because of all that bread I ate at the start of the meal). But it just wasn't as good as I was expecting. Which is too bad, because some of the other vegetarian options on the menu here are really quite excellent!

The sweet potato fries (included with the burger), however, were delicious!

Cost: $12.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 4      Toppings: 3

Spring Street Natural
62 Spring Street
between Mulberry & Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012
212.966.0290

YumVeggieBurger review #156

Friday, March 6, 2015

White Castle

Full Disclaimer:
White Castle contacted me and sent me info and coupons for their new veggie sliders.
But since I was out of town for most of December and then spent all of January apartment-hunting, packing, and moving into a new apartment, I did not get a chance to use the coupons before they expired. So I paid for the sliders I am reviewing here, and although I am grateful to White Castle for taking an interest in my little blog and offering me the opportunity to try their new menu items, the fact that they sent me a free apron and t-shirt won’t affect the honesty of my review (although the apron is quite useful in the kitchen – thank you, White Castle!).


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This was my first time setting foot in a White Castle restaurant – although of course I had seen Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (did you know that they supposedly made veggie sliders just for one of the actors to eat during the filming of that movie? Kind of crazy that it took another TEN years to get veggie sliders on the real menu for the rest of us civilians!)

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Walking into the restaurant, I noticed signs on each table advertising the new veggie sliders – which seemed like a good omen! But when I stepped up to the register to place my order, the cashier said “We don’t have any more veggie sliders”.

Disappointing, but maybe it was a good thing if the veggie sliders were so popular they were selling out? Hopefully that would show White Castle executives that having a veggie option was a smart move! So I asked the cashier when they would have the sliders back in stock so I could return to try them.

To my surprise, she said they did have them in stock, but “No one is cooking them, so it would take about 10 minutes”. Confused, I tried to clarify: “So, if I wait ten minutes, can I order them?” The cashier seemed shocked that anyone would want to wait 10 minutes, but agreed to take my order, and called back into the kitchen for someone to start cooking veggie sliders.

I was baffled – so they did have the sliders, they just couldn’t be bothered to prepare them for their customers? White Castle had told me that they were training their employees to cook the veggie patties separately from hamburger patties, even using different-colored spatula to keep them separate! But I hadn't anticipated that this would mean it would be such an ordeal to order them. Oh well… at least they would be freshly-cooked!

But I was troubled that the cashier had not given me this information when I first asked to order the sliders. She had simply said “we don’t have any more veggie sliders”. If I had not been persistent and asked a follow up question, I would have left the restaurant assuming they were out of stock. In fact, I had seen a customer in front of me leave after hearing something he wanted was out of stock – I had missed the beginning of his conversation with the cashier, but now I would be willing to bet he’d tried to order the veggie sliders too, and been turned away!

About ten twenty minutes later, my sliders were finally ready:

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They were tiny, and kind of cute – each in its own little cardboard case.

I had ordered three, so I could try each of the three flavors of sauce that are offered with the veggie sliders. First up was the “Sweet Thai” sauce:

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The patties are all Dr. Praeger’s vegan veggie burgers – a mix of carrots, zucchini peas, spinach, and broccoli. I haven’t been too impressed by Dr. Praeger’s burgers in the past, but I have to say, maybe it was the 20 minute wait, but these did not seem too bad. They were a bit mushy, but they were warm and held together well! The Sweet Thai sauce is the only one of the three flavors that is vegan. It was a nice sweet-sour flavor, very mild compared to some sweet Thai sauces I’ve tried.

I wished there were some peppers or greens with the patty, but I guess the whole deal with White Castle’s sliders is that they’re rather minimalist?

Next up, Honey Mustard:

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This sauce contains eggs, but no dairy. I’m not a big mustard fan, but I actually kind of liked it (I guess because it was more sweet than mustard). It seemed like there was a smaller portion of it than there had been of the Sweet Thai sauce, but I was glad the mustard flavor wasn’t too overwhelming.

Third, Ranch Dressing:

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This sauce, containing both eggs and milk, was my least favorite. Maybe someone who really likes Ranch would appreciate it, but I did not care for it. Still, I was hungry, and the sliders are tiny, so I ate the whole thing. The bun was soft and fresh, nothing exciting, but it served its purpose well. The sliders are so small, even three was not terribly filling - perhaps because I missed having real toppings (sauce is not really enough of a topping for me! Even if two of the three sauces weren't bad). But it's kind of nice that they sell them individually, so if you just wanted a small bite you could just stop in and order one on its own! Or twenty, if you were really hungry...

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This White Castle location, near the Port Authority, is hardly a place I’d be in a hurry to return to (it was quite possibly one of the dirtiest restaurants I’ve ever eaten in). But if you are nearby, hungry, and low on cash – or your intoxicated omnivore friends drag you with them on a quest for sliders – at least there is now a vegetarian option here. And I am totally in support of every restaurant, even fast food chains, having those options for their customers!

But all of White Castle’s corporate promotion and advertising of the new veggie sliders seems to be at odds with the staff’s attitude towards them. I should add that it was well into lunchtime (1:30pm) when I arrived. If they didn’t have anyone cooking veggie sliders by then, would they have ever gotten around to cooking them that day, if I had not insisted on ordering them? And does this happen every day?

How is White Castle supposed to evaluate if there is enough demand to keep these on the menu if they are turning away customers who try to order them???

I hope this is just an issue at this one White Castle location – has anyone tried to order the sliders at a White Castle outside of NYC? Or have you been to the NYC one and had better luck than I did?

Cost: $0.99 per slider
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 3      Toppings: 1

White Castle
525 8th Avenue
between 36th & 37th Street
New York, NY 10018
212.736.4746
additional locations in NYC and around the U.S., check website for addresses

YumVeggieBurger review #155

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

(technically last month - February)

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This was an exciting "best thing I ate this month" - I was so excited to try the new Chao Slices made by Field Roast (the same company that makes those delicious vegan sausages, and the veggie burger patty I was finally able to try while I was in L.A. last year!)

I had been stalking the vegan foods section of Whole Foods for weeks looking for these, but finally found them at a local natural food store in my neighborhood.

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The Chao slices are sealed in one package together, but surprisingly come apart easily without sticking to each other. This is one of those rare vegan cheeses which tastes good plain! I ate some slices on their own, and then a few on crackers. One evening after a friend and I finished a bottle of wine, I drunkenly ate several chao slices, and they were just the perfect craving-satisfier at that moment! So this product should definitely be included when you have a vegan wine and cheese party.

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Of course, the real test for this vegan cheese was the grilled cheese sandwich.

The verdict? Delicious!
It did seem to take a bit longer to melt than other vegan cheeses, but it was worth it - so yummy! Perfect comfort food on these cold winter days!

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I can't wait to try the other flavors once I am able to locate them in stores... especially the spicy tomato cayenne pepper one! And you can bet I will be putting these slices on my veggie burgers quite often from now on!

Chao Slices
Purchased at Greenbay Marketplace in Astoria, NY
Check Field Roast's website to see where else they might be sold.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Ode to the The Cinnamon Snail (and their Smoked Chili Bourbon BBQ Seitan Burger)

Do you passionately love and adore the Cinnamon Snail vegan food truck? Or do you still have yet to try its delicious sandwiches, burgers, donuts and other mind-blowing desserts? Either way, you only have two weeks left to get your hands on some of the best vegan food in the city…

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Tragically, the Cinnamon Snail announced that at the end of this month, their food truck will no longer be operating.

This news hit me hard, like the way you feel as a kid when you drop your ice cream cone on the ground (or, even as an adult, still!) – I have always looked forward to days off when I can grab breakfast or lunch from the Cinnamon Snail, or weekends when I happily find excuses to run errands in Manhattan near where the truck will be parked, so I can pick up a box of donuts to bring home. It’s hard to believe that these days are coming to an end!

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Seriously, how incredible are these donuts?!?!

What the future is for the Snail crew and their amazing food is uncertain at this time (read their facebook post for more details), so if you have been craving a bourbon crème brulee donut or a decadently delicious veggie burger, now is the time to get one, before they are all gone! And if you still have not tried the Cinnamon Snail’s food, please do yourself a favor and try it at least once before you no longer have the chance to – even if you aren’t a vegetarian or vegan, I promise you will be blown away!

Which brings me to the subject of this post…

The smoked chili bourbon BBQ seitan burger with jalapeno mac-n-cheese, smoked almond bacon, arugula, and chipotle mayo on grilled herb focaccia.

Yes, you read that correctly. Are you drooling? I was, the minute I saw that sign advertising the daily special.

My most recent trip to the Cinnamon Snail was on a Saturday when I had an early morning appointment in Manhattan. Remembering that the Snail had said they would be parked on 14th street that day, I eagerly made my way there for lunch. Bonus: no line! A rarity for the Snail!

Because it is FREEZING outside in NYC right now, I resisted the temptation to be one of those people messily eating a meal on the subway, and patiently waited until I got home to dig into what sounded like a veritable holy grail of veggie burgers.

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And I was not disappointed!

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The toppings are a foodie/vegan/glutton’s dream come true. Just look at that mac-n-cheese! Okay, it’s a little smushed from being carried all the way back to Queens, but just take a minute to pause and process all the delicious flavors that are combined in this incredible burger: bourbon, barbecue, mac-n-cheese, bacon, jalapeno. And it's all vegan. Holy hell! And each one was as delicious as it sounds, coming together to create a masterpiece.

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The seitan patty was sweet, spicy, smokey, savory, hearty, and simply amazing. It’s thick, it will fill you up – and it holds together like a proper veggie patty should!

The herbed focaccia bun was sweet and soft, and tasted oh-so-good. My only complaint (literally, my ONLY complaint about this entire burger) was that the bun was a bit large for even this monster patty and luxurious array of toppings (probably because of the fact that the bun is square and has all that extra bread at the corners with no patty or toppings to fill it - but this is a pretty minor, nit-picky complaint in the face of so much awesomeness).

If I could narrow down all my gushing praise of this burger to one word, that would be simply:
WOW!

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This burger was the weekly special last week, but I don’t think it’s on the specials for this week (or I would probably be seriously considering skipping work to go eat it).
However, you can try the Ancho Chili Seitan Burger which I have also reviewed (and also gave 5 stars to) and which is on the regular menu! And hopefully if the Cinnamon Snail is reincarnated as a brick-and-mortar restaurant or some other type of food vendor, they will bring back the smoked chili bourbon BBQ seitan burger… as its #1 fan, I think I would cry if I never had the chance to taste that deliciousness ever again!

And of course, don’t forget to try a donut (vanilla bourbon crème brulee donuts – need I say more??? The Cinnamon Snail understands my love/need for all things bourbon-flavored!) or another dessert!

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I got a bourbon hazelnut cheesecake brownie, which I shamelessly ate on the subway on my way home (dessert before dinner is allowed when the dessert is the less messy of the two options, and the food is so good you can’t wait until you get home!).

Go out and show your love for the Cinnamon Snail and eat some amazing food in the next week and a half before the truck is off the streets for good!

Cinnamon Snail, you are so loved – and you will be so missed!
Thank you for all the love and deliciousness you have shared over the years!

Cost: $11.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Burger patty: 5       Bun: 4      Toppings: 5

The Cinnamon Snail
Parking in various locations around Manhattan - but only until the end of February 2015! - check their Twitter feed for current location
201.675.3755
YumVeggieBurger review #154

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Venice Ale House

Okay, this is the last belated veggie burger review from my trip to Los Angeles last December – I’ve got some great NYC veggie burger reviews to post soon, for those who are sick of seeing the lovely warm-weather California photos and want a local veggie burger here in NYC to warm you up on a cold snowy day (like today…)

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Venice Ale House was just down the street from the hotel we stayed at in Venice Beach, and with its outdoor seating looking out onto the beach, we couldn’t resist stopping here for brunch one afternoon. I had already seen a few vegan items on the menu before I spotted the veggie burger, but once I saw that it was called “The Mother Trucker Veggie Burger” I laughed and knew I had to try it!

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Yes, that’s a huge sprig of rosemary sticking out of a really deliciously tasty bun (soft and sweet, studded with sesame seeds).

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The patty could stand to be a little less mushy – the texture ended up feeling like a thick paste in my mouth – but the flavor was excellent! In particular, I enjoyed the spicy kick that hits you after the first bite! The standard toppings the burger came with were lettuce, tomato, raw red onion (ehh, I think I’ve expressed my dislike of raw onion on burgers before) and chipotle aioli (although the staff said the burger was vegan, I’m guessing they were not thinking about the aioli). Because I was on vacation, I splurged and spent an extra dollar for avocado as well.

Mushiness of the patty aside, taste-wise, this was one of the better burgers I had on this trip! And the roasted potatoes it was served with were quite enjoyable as well. I wish we could have stayed longer, because I would have been glad to come back and try one of the vegan breakfast scrambles on the menu too.

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Sunset over Venice Beach

Cost: $11.00 (plus $1.00 extra for avocado)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 5      Toppings: 4

Venice Ale House
2 Rose Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
310.314.8253

YumVeggieBurger review #153

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Neptune's Net

Wow, January was a busy month! I moved into a new apartment, and am still unpacking… which explains why I have still not finished posting all of my veggie burger reviews from my trip to Los Angeles back in December!

So here’s another California veggie burger review:

One of the best parts of our L.A. vacation was driving up the coast for beach days in Malibu.

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One evening, after watching a beautiful sunset, we realized we were starving, and the closest place was a seafood restaurant called Neptune’s Net. Hopeful that I would find something there that I could eat, we ventured inside.

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Lo and behold, one of the few vegetarian items on the menu was a “garden burger”!
They could not tell me if it was vegan or not, so I’d err on the side of caution and assume it’s only vegetarian, as many pre-made patties unfortunately are (and some of the yelp reviews sound pretty certain that it’s not vegan).

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It was pretty simple, just some shredded iceburg lettuce, a pale tomato slice, and a generous serving of mayo, all on a very standard, squishy, fast-food-esque bun studded with sesame seeds on top.

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The patty itself wasn’t bad. A rather standard “garden burger”, it was fried well, and maybe I was just hungry, but it even tasted pretty decent for a pre-made patty! It was more of a vegetable mash than faux-meat texture. I was trying to figure out if it was a brand I had tried before, but couldn’t quite place it.

Overall, not a great veggie burger – but after a day on the beach, if you’re a starving vegetarian and just need something in your stomach, at least Neptune’s Net offers that!

Cost: $8.45
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 2      Toppings: 1

Neptune’s Net
42505 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA
310.457.3095

YumVeggieBurger review #152

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Field Roast Hand-Formed Veggie Burger

This probably officially makes me a dork, but one of the things I was looking forward to as I planned my visit to Los Angeles was not just the new veggie burgers I could try in local restaurants, but the possibility of new veggie burgers at the grocery stores as well.

I’ve been wanting to try Field Roast’s veggie burgers for ages (I stalk them on facebook) because I love their vegan sausages so much. But, alas, I have been unable to find them in New York! I’ve checked multiple Whole Foods locations and numerous local natural food stores, but it seems they have just not made it to the Big Apple yet.

So I was thrilled to find them at a Whole Foods in California!

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At $8.99 for a pack of four, they were a bit pricy, but I was so excited to try them that I figured the price would be worth it.

Eager to finally taste them, I didn’t even wait for lunch or dinner – I fried one up for breakfast the next morning.

I was a bit dubious about the look of the patty as I dropped it into the frying pan (but I guess that’s the “hand-formed” shape the packaging advertised?) and they seemed thinner than I was expecting a good, hearty burger to be (they come with all four smashed together in the package and you kind of have to peel them off of each other).

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And I was unfortunately kind of disappointed with the result when I tasted my breakfast burger patty. There were some good flavors in it, but it was super oily. I had fried it in a tiny bit of butter, but it seemed like the patty had plenty of oils in it already, and by the time it was cooked up it was extremely greasy. The texture was pretty good though – a bit like the Field Roast sausages, but different (heartier, and… meatier?).

As underwhelming as my breakfast had been, I was determined to give these burgers another chance. The guesthouse we were staying in had a rooftop deck with a barbecue grill, and we’d been planning to cook dinner up there one night:

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So that’s what we did.

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Knowing from my earlier experiment that the burger already contained plenty of oil, I didn’t even bother to brush olive oil on the patty like I normally would when barbecuing veggie burgers. I just dropped it on the grill, and let it cook…

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…and it turns out, these might be the BEST veggie burgers EVER for cooking on a barbecue grill!

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It cooked perfectly, heating up all the way through and getting nice char marks from the grill, while never sticking or falling apart (a flaw of many other veggie burgers). I was amazed!

And then for the taste test:

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I went a little overboard with the ketchup…

DELICIOUS! It seemed that grilling was the secret to success with these patties. It no longer tasted too oily, and the texture was perfect. The flavor was rich and hearty – they’re made with barley, carrots, and celery, and you could see bits of the actual vegetables in the patty, yet the seitan base of the patty held it all together so well. Paired with some roasted habanero peppers and a toasted bun, it was a perfect burger!

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I was so happy that my first impression of these burgers turned out to be wrong. Maybe there is a way to cook them in a frying pan that works better than the method I used, but I think these burgers are designed and destined for the barbecue grill. And if you have ever been frustrated by veggie burger failures on the grill, you should definitely try these! They will change your life! And they’re vegan, so everyone can enjoy them (unless you can’t eat gluten, then you’re out of luck with these).

It’s just too bad we don’t seem to get them in New York yet… but maybe by the time summer (and barbecue season) rolls around…

Or, you know, you could just fly out to L.A. – it’s a pretty cool city, afterall!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burger
purchased at: Whole Foods in Venice, CA
price: $8.99 for a package of 4 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #151

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Café Gratitude

I was really excited to try the veggie burger at Café Gratitude, because numerous people had recommended this restaurant to me as one of the best vegan spots in L.A.!

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The veggie burger is described as “magical” on the menu, which made me smile (all of the menu items get their own creative adjective).

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The burger arrived on a hearty, whole grain bun. This bread was pretty great quality bread, but it was far too large and thick for the size of the patty and toppings! Unfortunately, all I could taste in the first few bites (in most bites, actually) was bread. And it was so filling I could not eat it all, and resorted to eating the second half of my burger as an open-faced sandwich, removing the top half of the bun.

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The patty itself was much better – a tasty blend of beans and spices. I wish it had been larger, as it seemed surprisingly small to be paired with such an oversized bun! It was also a bit mushy, and I thought it would have benefited from a crispier outside or some other texture mixed in.

The toppings were pretty simple: lettuce, tomato, raw red onion, and pickled cucumbers. The pickles were nice, but there weren’t many of them, so I was only able to taste them in a couple bites. I think the mustard sauce and spicy chipotle ketchup just got absorbed into the mushy patty and bready bun, as I only tasted a hint of them. And again, like the patty, there were not enough toppings to match the oversized bun!

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Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed with Café Gratitude’s veggie burger (especially for $13…). It was a decent burger, definitely higher quality than the average veggie burger from a non-vegan restaurant, but I think it was too over-hyped for me. I would love to hear what others liked about it, since I feel like I must be missing something, or maybe my taste is just very different (or I’ve been spoiled by some seriously stellar veggie burgers?).

But my omnivorous boyfriend, cheerfully game for another vegan restaurant adventure with me, absolutely loved the “Humble” Indian Curry Bowl that he ordered – so Café Gratitude must be doing something right to win over an avid-meat-eater like that!

I wish we’d have more time in Los Angeles (2 weeks is not long enough!) to come back so I could try some other dishes on the menu, as I have noticed that sometimes the best veggie burgers are not found in all-vegan restaurants, and sometimes the best all-vegan restaurants do a lot better on other menu items than the veggie burger.

Cost: $13.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 3      Toppings: 3

Café Gratitude
639 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
323.580.6383
additional locations in Venice, Santa Cruz, and Berkley, CA as well as one in Kansas City, MO (check website for addresses)

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View from our hike to the Hollywood sign

YumVeggieBurger review #150

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Veggie Burger Review from California: Seed

Happy New Year!

2015 has been non-stop so far – but all good things. After a lovely vacation and Christmas in Los Angeles, I’m back in New York, back at work, and catching up on veggie burger reviews. And as promised, I tried a few veggie burgers while I was out in California...

First up: Seed.
I picked this vegan restaurant to try because it had so many good reviews on Yelp, and had SIX veggie burgers on its menu! (The fact that it was close to where we were staying in Venice Beach helped too, of course).

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I ordered the Simmered BBQ Seitan Burger, because it sounded like something unique that I had not tried before.

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It came topped with greens, sprouts, vegan mayo, and of course the barbecue sauce which the seitan patty was smothered with. Yum! I liked the barbecue flavor. The ciabatta bun was very good, with great flavor and texture, and just the right size for the burger – not too big or too small. I’m a bit of a Goldilocks about burger buns!

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Now, I’ve had some seitan-based burgers before, where the seitan is mixed with other vegetables or proteins to create a unique burger patty. But this is the first time I’ve just had a slab of seitain on its own as a burger patty, and I have to say it was a little disappointing. I find the texture of seitan enjoyable in something like a stir-fry, for example, but it was a bit too soft and spongy for a burger.

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Simmered BBQ Seitan Burger
Cost: $11.50
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4


My boyfriend, normally a meat-eater, had generously agreed to accompany me to a few all-vegan restaurants on this trip. And since he ordered a burger at Seed as well, I got to try two burgers in one meal!

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He chose the Mediterranean Burger, which came on the same delicious ciabatta bun, and was topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a very tasty red pepper vegan aioli sauce.

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The patty was described on the menu as “Eric’s original bean & grain burger” and was a much more traditional veggie burger patty than my seitan patty. It was really tasty, albeit a bit crumbly, and fell apart as I ate it. I’m not sure what about the patty or the toppings was necessarily “Mediterranean”, but whatever the flavor profile was, I liked it! I actually had food-envy as I found my boyfriend’s burger much more enjoyable than my seitan burger (that might have been a first for our relationship!).

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Mediterranean Burger
Cost: $10.95
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4


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Seed
1604 Pacific Avenue
Venice, CA 90291
310.396.1604

Everything else on the menu at Seed sounded delightful (so many yummy vegan dishes!), and I had hoped I would have time to return and try something else – but there are so many vegetarian/vegan restaurants in L.A. (I never thought I’d say this – but I think L.A. has NYC beat for sheer quantity of vegan food!) and I only had two weeks to explore and try as many of them as I could! More veggie burger reviews coming soon...

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Sunset over Venice Beach

YumVeggieBurger review #149