One evening in Long Island City, we stopped by this health food store to pick up some snacks in the middle of a busy day full of meetings. I was in the mood for a sandwich, so I walked towards the little café area in the back (called “Café Natural Frontier”). Then I saw the words “veggie burger” on the menu.
Contrary to popular misconception, I don’t love veggie burgers so much that I just can’t ever resist eating them. I love a good burger more than a lot of other types of food, but sometimes I look at it more like research than satisfying a food-craving. Especially because most of the time when I see a burger on the menu, unless it is one that I specifically sought out based on rave reviews, I know the odds are that the average burger is likely to be mediocre at best. Sometimes there's a pleasant surprise, but often not. But I eat it anyway. For research purposes.
They also sell just the patties individually, if you wanted to take them home to cook them yourself, which I think is a pretty nice idea.
The guy working at the café told me the patties are vegan but the bun the burger is served on is not. Very good to know.
I have a terrible suspicion that a lot of restaurants that are not too familiar with veganism may tell customers that a burger is vegan just because the patty is free of animal products, without even considering that the bun is made with butter or milk. So I’d recommend that any vegans be sure to double-check that information before ordering any supposedly-vegan veggie burgers. Fortunately, a good burger patty often tastes just as good on a bed of lettuce instead of a bun (and restaurants should accommodate that request). But it would be nice if the staff were a bit better informed about dietary particulars like this (I’m getting used to hearing the phrase “oh, that’s a good question! Let me find out…” when I ask if burgers are vegan. You’d think they should already know this… I can’t be the only person who wants to know!)
And speaking of non-vegan buns, you wouldn’t be missing much if you ate this burger without the bun, which was either too-toasted or stale-and-then-toasted. And very bland-tasting. The toppings were pretty decent though – lettuce, tomatoes, plus great pickles and a flavorful tomato-based sauce hiding beneath the patty.
The patty itself was pretty good, although I don’t think the café guy had heated it up enough, because it was nearly cold when I ate it in the car less than three minutes after leaving the store. As far as tofu-based burgers go, this is much more the type that I am a fan of (rather than the Trader Joe’s Tofu Burger). There were actually vegetables mixed in with the tofu – spinach, carrots, etc. The texture was therefore much more chewy instead of overly-spongy. The flavor wasn’t too bad, nothing terribly memorable though. I would have put some more spices into it, for my personal preference. Or maybe spicier condiments would have been enough.
Not bad for a meal-on-the-go, though!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3 Bun: 1 Toppings: 3
Natural Frontier Market
12-01 Jackson Ave
between 47th Rd and 48th Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101
YumVeggieBurger review #31