Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A few months ago, I was very intrigued by all the speculation I was reading on Midtown Lunch about 4food’s impending opening. With all the new burger joints opening around this city, it takes a lot for one to stand out among the crowd. I wasn’t sure if 4food’s “dejunking fast food” motto or its strange donut-shaped burger patties would make it stand out in a good way or a bad way, but I was curious enough to give them a try – which means they were at least successful in luring one customer in!

Before their opening, I was checking out their website and saw an offer to get $12 free to spend at the restaurant if you signed up for an account on the site. How could I say no to that?

But it wasn’t until just this week that I actually had a chance to go check out their food. Preparing to go into Manhattan to run some errands, I logged into the 4food website to place my order online. The website is pretty cool – you can customize your entire burger, from bun to toppings, and see an illustrated image of what you are ordering:


I chose the multigrain bun with the veggie patty (the patty is vegan, although the only vegan option among the buns is the pressed rice patty – all the bread contains dairy). All 4food burgers are donut-shaped, and then you choose a “scoop” of something to fill the hole in the middle. I selected pickled peppers for mine (other options include dried fruit and nuts, beans, mushrooms, spinach, etc). For the “slice” I picked fresh avocado. Next, I chose guacamole, sweet chili sauce, and hummus for my condiments (might have been overdoing it a bit… but the list, and the option to choose up to three at no extra cost, was too tempting!). The more traditional toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles are called “addons” in 4food lingo. I said yes to all four.

I finished placing the order online (it even gives you the nutritional information about your order at the end), and specified what time I wanted it to be ready for pickup. Then I put on my coat, left my apartment, and got on the train.


When I arrived at 4food, I was a few minutes early. My order was ready right on time. I have to say, I enjoyed the convenience of the whole ordering online thing, although they have a fleet of iPads in the restaurant for customers to place orders on too. It's perfect for people who like to be picky about what they order, or just don't like dealing with a human when placing that order.


The restaurant has ample seating, with wooden board games set out at some of the tables, in what looks like another attempt to “dejunk fast food” by inviting people to hang out rather than just eat and run. I’m not sure how successful this is, since I was the only person in the restaurant… but that could have been because I was coming at that odd time between lunch and dinner, after or before most people go out to eat.

My burger and fries – sorry, “square roots” as 4food calls them (and yes, they are square-shaped) came in cute little boxes:



Of course, the burger didn’t look quite as perfect as the illustration online – but it did smell delicious!


I opened it up before biting in, curious to see the “scoop” of pickled peppers in the middle of the patty. That “scoop” was a bit smaller than the pictures online had lead me to believe it would be, and my avocado “slices” were a bit overripe and looked more like chunks than slices, but it was still quite a delicious array of toppings. The sweet chili sauce overpowered the flavor of the guacamole and hummus – but it was so good that I didn’t mind. The pickles, lettuce, tomato, and onions were all fresh and tasty. If you like a ton of toppings on your burger, 4food is definitely the place to go.


The multigrain bun was just okay – not exceptional. On the outside it looked good, but inside the bread seemed too white to really uphold the “dejunking fast food” motto.

The burger patty itself was a bit of a letdown. The whole thing was rather mushy, and would have been better with a crispier outside. I tried to identify individual ingredients, but the only ones I could see clearly were walnuts and possibly sunflower seeds. I suppose it worked as a good base for all of those delicious toppings, but when I pulled off a piece of it with my fork to taste it isolated from all the other flavors, it was just rather bland. And the donut shape, while an interesting novelty, is a rather unstable structure for a burger. Once you've broken the circle by biting into one side, it tends to slide out of the bun and break off in pieces. I had never considered how useful the center of a burger is for holding the whole thing together until a piece of my 4food burger fell out of the bun, bounced off my lap, and landed on the floor.

I’ll give them points for novelty. And the “square roots” fries were actually very good (a mix of yams with white and purple potatoes). And I appreciated the fact that my meal cost absolutely nothing thanks to that free $12 I got just for signing up on their website several months ago. But I doubt I will return to eat here again. There are too many burgers I like better in this city.

Cost: $6.50 ($3.50 extra for "square roots")
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 3      Toppings: 5

286 Madison Ave
@ 40th Street

YumVeggieBurger review #30

Monday, October 18, 2010

DuMont Burger


When I hear a lot of meat-eaters raving about a burger place, I’m always extra curious to try their vegetarian offering(s). And DuMont Burger has quite a reputation for its meat-burgers (the two guys in button-down shirts sitting next to me at the bar couldn’t stop raving about their burgers as they ate them – one declared that he felt “drunk on a burger” when he had finished).

The funny thing is, when you get to this restaurant and look at the menu, the veggie burger is not listed under “Burgers”. My heart skipped a beat at that absence – until I saw “Chickpea Burger” beneath the heading “Everything Else”. Kind of an odd placement, like DuMont is embarrassed to admit that they included a burger for us vegetarians. But I guess we can’t complain too much, right? At least it’s on the menu somewhere.


Here is something I have learned after much eating of veggie burgers in NYC: “Chickpea Burger” is code for “falafel burger”.

Now, I love falafel. And I don’t think falafel burgers are a bad idea… But, as I explained in my review of GO Burger, it’s just not quite the same as a regular veggie burger – and at the end of the day, unless it’s absolutely mind-blowing, I’d rather just get a normal falafel sandwich from a street vendor.

So, I felt a bit disappointed that a place whose meat-burgers get such rave reviews didn’t try harder to offer a more unique veggie burger. Especially when it comes with such a high price tag. Those factors aside though, the burger was good. They certainly perfected the falafel flavoring, although I thought the patty was a bit too thick. Since falafel is often rather dry (although at least this one was nice and crispy on the outside), it would have been easier to eat the burger if the patty was a bit thinner.


The bun was soft and sweet – too sweet, I thought, to be paired with falafel. It was just an odd mix of flavors that did not sit well on my tongue. The toppings were delicious – the tatziki-style garlic-dill sauce was great and helped combat how dry the thick patty was (although to get a vegan burger, you’d have to go without the sauce – and I’m not sure they have a vegan substitute, so you’d be stuck with a very dry burger!). The lettuce, tomato, and cucmumbers were good, but the pickles were scrumptious – although I admit I felt that the burger already had enough different flavors competing, so I just ate the pickles separately.

I will also give DuMont credit for the variety options they offer as sides with the burger (included in the price) – fries, onion rings, or the soup of the day. I had a cup of white gazpacho, which was tasty, but I should have eaten it before the burger as I ended up being too full to finish it... I know, I know, soups are meant to be eaten before main courses – but I get a bit ahead of myself in my excitement to review a new burger!

Cost: $12
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 3      Toppings: 4

DuMont Burger
314 Bedford Ave
between S 2nd Street and S 1st street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

YumVeggieBurger review #29

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Westville East

The film shoot I was working on has finally wrapped – so now that I’m not working 20-hour days constantly, I have time to go eat more veggie burgers!

And time to do other things, too… like go on dates. This happens to be the first burger I ate and reviewed while on a date. Don’t worry though, it was a third date – I might talk about Battlestar Galactica on a first date, but I’ll save my dorky photographing of half-eaten veggie burgers for a later time, when the guy in question knows me a little better and won’t be totally weirded out ;)

I’d wanted to try Westville’s burger for some time now, since a friend recommended it to me awhile ago. Having walked by their East Village location many times, and noticed how cozy and fun it looked, I figured it would be a good place for a date as well.

Of course I ordered the veggie burger – which comes “topped with mixed mushrooms & spicy tartar sauce”. Since I’ve often professed my dislike of mushrooms, I asked the waiter if I could order the burger without them. I added avocado ($1.50 extra) to compensate for the missing topping.


Alas, my burger was still served to me with the mushrooms - although they did remember to add the avocado.


But I just shoved the mushrooms off with my fork before eating the burger. My date didn’t seem too turned-off by this.

Avocado was a much better topping, along with the lettuce, red onion, tomato, and pickles. The little tartar sauce left behind after most of it stuck to the mushrooms I removed tasted pretty good as well. I thought the bun was just average – nothing too special.

But the burger patty itself was delicious.

Warm and soft on the inside, with the ideal layer of crispy on the outside. Everything was mashed together so finely inside that I couldn’t quite pick out individual ingredients. It tasted like red peppers might be a main component though, and that would explain the bright orange coloring of the patty as well. I could also see corn, bits of onion, and other vegetables as well. The flavor was wonderful – very rich and savory.


I asked the bartender (we were eating at the bar because they were rather crowded and we didn’t want to wait 20 minutes for a table) if the burger was vegan, and he said he would find out. Another employee came out and told me that the burger was vegan, no dairy or eggs. But after he left, the bartender confided to me that he thought that guy was wrong - and that there were actually eggs in the patty. I was surprised by this contradiction among the staff – it reminded me of a Food Network article which Super Vegan linked to recently, describing how about 15% of chefs said their vegetarian dishes might not be completely vegetarian”. I’m sure the statistics are even higher for vegan dishes… tartar sauce is not normally vegan.

So if you are vegan, I’d hesitate to recommend that you eat Westville’s burger – although the bartender pointed out to me that they do serve an all-vegan hotdog. For vegetarians though, the burger really is worth trying. And the sweet potato fries were amazing! My date had a vegetable platter which he enjoyed very much as well, and says he can't wait to come back to this restaurant again. The menu quite extensive – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a long list of daily specials before! I definitely want to come back to try more of the dishes here, although I’d be just as happy to come eat the veggie burger again, too.

Cost: $10 + $1.50 for avocado
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 3      Toppings: 5

Westville East
173 Avenue A
at the corner of 11th Street
New York, NY 10009
Westville locations in Chelsea and the West Village as well

YumVeggieBurger review #28