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