UPDATE: Kate's is now closed, RIP delicious veggie burgers! :( Original review archived below:
Kate’s Joint is like a greasy late-night diner for vegans - in the best possible meaning of that description.
I’ve eaten here before, but this was my first time ordering one of their burgers (take a look at the extensive menu and you’ll understand why it had taken me until now to get around to trying a burger!). And there are a lot of them to choose from… this is one of those restaurants I will ideally return to other times to review more of (hope that doesn’t spoil the suspense in this review… yes, their burgers are good enough that I will be coming back for more!)
Slightly-overwhelmed by the rare sight of so many different veggie burgers all on one menu, I asked the bartender which one was his favorite. He said he liked the “McKate” and the “Double Bacon Cheese Burger” best. So I ordered the McKate – “two un-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, dairy or non-dairy cheese (I got the non-dairy), pickles, onions on whole wheat sesame seed bun”. My friend John ordered the "Double Bacon Cheese Burger".
Me: This tastes like what I remember McDonald’s cheeseburgers tasting like!*
John: McDonald’s tasted this good?
*note: I think the last time I ate a McDonald’s burger was in the early 90's
Seriously though - whatever McDonald’s might have actually tasted like back when I was a little kid, or whatever it might taste like today in 2010… Kate’s has managed to capture a flavor that hit me like a flashback from 20 years ago. I distinctly remember that same taste in my mouth as a four year old playing with whatever cheap little toy came with my happy meal that day. My parents definitely didn’t take me to McDonald’s as often as most kids’ parents took them, and it wasn’t too many years later that I refused to eat red meat before going all the way off the deep end into vegetarianism. But some part of my impressionable little kid brain remembered what a McDonald’s cheeseburger tasted like. And apparently I can still recognize that taste so many years later… in vegan form.
Yes, the cheese is obviously vegan in texture – but the flavor is pretty dead-on (I mean, the cheese McDonald’s uses is probably just as "fake" in its own way, right?). The pickles and onions are perfect. I think the flavor of those in combination with the cheese are what I probably remembered the most as a kid anyway.
The two “un-beef” patties are thinner and less meaty, of course… actually that was my main complaint. Even with the two patties combined, they were still a little too thin for my taste. And their diameters did not match that of the bun - like a hotdog (vegetarian, of course!) that’s too short for its bun, always slightly unsatisfying. Flavor-wise though, it hit the spot in the way that only greasy fast-food can… only I’m pretty sure it is much healthier than that (and it wasn’t actually greasy at all). Plus, I chose the side salad instead of fries.
I will definitely look forward to coming back to try the other burgers on Kate’s menu (I had a bite of John's Double Bacon Cheese Burger, which was also tasty, but I was too focused on my own McKate to really give its flavor a thorough review).
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4 Bun: 4 Toppings: 5
58 Avenue B
on the corner of 4th Street
New York, NY 10009
YumVeggieBurger review #10