Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Union Hall

I love it when the opportunity to try a new veggie burger coincides with a night out. Even if it means that I get some odd looks when I’m sitting at a bar taking photographs of my burger, with my camera’s flash on because the lighting is too dim, and some guy standing next to my friend and I seems to think this is his opportunity to be awkward and annoying… by which I mean he probably thought he was hitting on us, but “I’ve never seen anyone take that many photos of a burger before” isn’t really a successful pickup line that works on me (well, let's be honest... it actually would have worked if he was cute and followed it up with any discourse of intelligence and substance, but he wasn't, and didn't).

Anyway… veggie burgers!


Described as “Veggie patty made of fresh roasted vegetables topped with lettuce, pickles, and chipotle aioli on a sesame roll. Served with sweet potato fries.” I asked our bartender if it was vegan, and she must have gotten that question a few times before because she answered promptly, “no, there are eggs inside it”.


Definitely a house-made patty, which I appreciated, but it was pretty mashed together and no vegetables or individual flavors really stood out. I could see carrots and bits of what I presume were soy beans, and probably spinach, but overall the taste was rather bland and mushy. It was missing that lovely crispy outside that properly grilled or fried burgers usually have. The blandness was almost compensated for by the delicious chipotle aioli sauce though. Rich, spicy, and smokey – that stuff was delightful! It just could have used an onion or something else in addition to the lettuce to balance the flavors a bit. Lettuce and pickles alone are a pretty poor spread of toppings, even with a sauce as good as this one.


But my main complaint was the bun – it was MASSIVE in comparison to the patty and toppings contained between the two sesame-seeded slices! The whole thing was was about 80% bun and 20% burger patty. I ended up tearing bits of the bun off just so I could actually enjoy the burger’s flavor instead of just choking on a mouthful of slightly-stale bread with each bite. If it had been a bit fresher, the actual flavor of the bread would have been fine. But I couldn’t get over how oversized it was, and how annoying that made the act of eating it.

I enjoy Union Hall, so I’ll definitely return – but I’ll try a veggie burger from some other place nearby (I have a long list of other places to try in Park Slope) before going to the bar, next time. I forgot to snap a quick shot or two of the bar itself, because I was busy playing wingman to my friend… so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that it’s a beautiful place with tall bookshelves and cozy seats by a fireplace, but large and filled with tons of people and a bocce ball court. Plus, they have $4 bottles of Original Sin, and the sweet potato fries were good even if the burger was not!

Cost: $10
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 2      Toppings: 4

Union Hall
702 Union Street
between 5th & 6th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

YumVeggieBurger review #36

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have a Happy Vegetarian Thanksgiving!

No burger updates until next week, since I am busy preparing for my sister's arrival and baking our contributions to tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast...

But I thought I would share with you two of my favorite vegan holiday recipes. These are a couple years old but I am still using them again this year, because they are just so tried-and-true good.

From Vegetarian Times: Holiday Cashew Nut Roast
I dug through my archives and found a photo of this dish taken when I cooked it in 2008... don't mind my hawaiian potholder under the casserole dish, haha.

From NPR's "A Vegetarian Thanksgiving": Vegetarian Gravy
(scroll down to the bottom for the gravy recipe)
I've made this for meat-eaters who swore it was the best gravy they've ever tasted.

Anyone have a good recipe for dairy-free dinner rolls? That's my new challenge this year. I've bookmarked a few online, but if anyone has one that they personally enjoy, please share :)

Have a great holiday, eat lots of delicious vegetarian food!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Cowgirl is an interesting restaurant – I can’t decide if it’s touristy or just good fun. The excessive themed décor makes it kind of cheesy, but it feels more sincere and the food is better than you would expect from a theme restaurant.

I came here for dinner with a friend – and remembered that I had seen a veggie burger on their menu previously, although at the time I was sans camera and in the mood for a quesadilla instead. But this time I was prepared, so I ordered the “garden veggie burger”.


Our waitress, in answer to my questions, informed me that it was indeed an entirely vegan burger (unless you ask for cheese on it, of course). I would bet that the coleslaw it is served with on the side is not vegan, but since I never eat coleslaw anyway I simply disregarded that part of my plate. The fries were just okay - not the best.


You can definitely tell that the patty is made fresh in their kitchen – look at all those vegetables poking out! onions, carrots, broccoli, spinach, corn, peppers… mixed with a base of black beans. Someone clearly put some thought into coming up with this menu offering, which is always a pleasant surprise for a vegetarian eating in a very non-vegetarian restaurant.


It was pretty good. Very middle-of-the-road for veggie burgers once you’ve tasted some of the mind-blowing ones that I’ve been fortunate enough to eat, but still definitely much better than the generic frozen patty they certainly could have gotten away with serving at such a meat-centric place. I would have liked something with a bit more of a kick, a stronger flavor to make it more memorable. But the veggies were good, nice and juicy and well-cooked.

The bun was pretty standard too. As were the toppings – fresh and juicy tomato, onion, and lettuce. It would have been cool if there was some unique sauce to give it extra flavor, maybe something to tie it into the Tex-Mex theme more. Ultimately, it was filling and satisfying, but not amazing or memorable enough for me to come back to try it again. There are too many other vegetarian dishes I could order that I would enjoy more at this particular restaurant.

P.S. – their frozen margaritas are really good. And I don’t even like margaritas, normally.

Cost: $10.95
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 3      Toppings: 3

519 Hudson Street
between 10th St & Charles St
New York, NY 10014

YumVeggieBurger review #35

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday News

First, don't forget that today is the last day to get your FREE, vegan veggie burger from The Green Truck if you are in NYC!

Second, the lovely Lindsay of Cook.Vegan.Lover. has just completed her ebook of vegan recipes: Soups, Stews, and Chili.
I tested some of the recipes while she was working on the book, and they are absolutely delicious - my favorites were the creamy celeriac soup and the sweet potato bean stew... oh, and the sweet onion soup with herbed tofu toast... actually I don't know if I can pick favorites, they were all amazing and I will definitely make them again. So that's my recommendation!

You can buy a copy of the ebook here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green Truck

My friend Ali (yes, she spells her name the same way as me!) alerted me to the news that the Green Truck is giving out FREE veggie burgers all week – to promote NBC/Universal’s “Green Week".

Free veggie burgers? Dream come true!
I had heard of the Green Truck before (it’s based out of LA, but comes to NYC and other areas for special occasions), but always missed the chance to try it when it was in town… until now!


Despite the fact that I am still getting over a cold, and finally had a day off again so I could have stayed in bed... I braved the extremely windy weather and caught up to the truck this afternoon when it was parked downtown on Barclay St. and Church St.


They were closing up the truck in preparation for a move to its next location (it's traveling all around Manhattan this week, parking in several different locations each day), but Mitchell was awesome enough to introduce himself, give me a freshly-made burger, and chat about the truck before they left.


This is their “Mother Trucker Vegan Burger” – totally vegan, and they make the patties themselves!

It was delicious – much better than you would expect from a free burger served out of a food truck (I know the food truck craze has come a long way in changing the quality of such food, but veggie burgers seem to have gotten left behind in this revolution… until now, that is).

another custumer, who heard about the truck on Twitter, models the burger's insides for my camera.

Topped with onions, peppers, tomatos, and the most amazing sauce... I am still thinking about how good that sauce was, hours later.


And the patty was perfect – rich and spicy, soft and kind of melt-in-your-mouth-good. Mitchell told me that it’s made with heirloom carrots and shiitake mushrooms, among other ingredients (and you know I’m the girl who can’t stand mushrooms – but trust me, they are blended in with all the other flavors so well they did not affect how much I enjoyed the taste of this burger!) It was really just the right flavor for a veggie burger: so hearty and satisfying that you only notice how much you are enjoying it - not the fact that it's a vegetarian version of a traditionally meat-based food. I bet a lot of meat-eaters would enjoy it, too. I hope the fact that it's free will entice a lot of them to try a vegetarian lunch, even if they wouldn't otherwise!

me, enjoying my free burger!

My only complaint (can you even complain when the food was free? Well, yes – if your blog is all about veggie burgers) was that the bun was a little oversized and thick for the patty and toppings – the last few bites of the burger were all bun, not as tasty as when it was in perfect harmony with the insides. But Mitchell told me they are considering trying a spelt bun for the burger in the future, so maybe that would be a better match.

Still, I can’t stress enough how tasty this burger was!

If you live in NYC then tomorrow or Friday you should definitely check out the Green Truck’s twitter feed to see where they are, and grab a free burger for yourself while they are in town! How often do you get the chance to eat free, amazing-tasting, vegan food in Manhattan, afterall?


Cost: FREE! (I don’t know what the price would normally be)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 5      Bun: 3      Toppings: 5

Green Truck
currently traveling around Manhattan this week, check their twitter feed to see where they are.

YumVeggieBurger review #34

Monday, November 15, 2010


Just a quick follow-up to my last post:
over the weekend while I was working, Jeremy updated his blog with his account of our veggie burger night.

Go read it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recipe: Roasted Pepper Veggie Burger

I’ve been wanting to start reviewing veggie burger recipes on this blog for some time now, and I finally got a chance to begin – hope you enjoy! And let me know if you have a recipe that you love and want to recommend for me to try next time!

My good friend Jeremy writes a blog called Jeremy Cooks Dinner where he photographs and describes his home-cooked (omnivorous) dinners. We’ve cooked dinner together in the past, and it was tons of fun, so we decided to make a dinner together that we could both post to our blogs – homemade veggie burgers!

After perusing my collection of literally hundreds of bookmarked recipes, we picked one for Roasted Pepper Veggie Burgers from Buff Chickpea’s blog - which unfortunately has not been updated in over a year, but the burger recipe had come up in a google search I did at one point, and it looked too good to resist.

All our ingredients laid out in front of Jeremy’s lovely spice racks

This recipe is, obviously, not vegan (it is dairy-free though, which is good for people like me!)

I somehow neglected to take photos of the red bell peppers and the jalapeno peppers which we roasted in the oven, but they smelled delicious! I was really excited about this recipe because of those particular ingredients – I love roasted peppers.

Jeremy chops the cilantro with his Culinary Institute-trained skills

We only had whole flax seed, and despite our best efforts with a mortar and pestel and then with the food processor, the seeds refused to be ground… so we just threw them in whole. Can you even buy pre-ground flax seed at the store? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

Forming the mixture into patties

Browning in the frying pan… they smelled really good…


Topped with lettuce, tomato, horseradish, and extra sprouts

Of course we dorked-out for a few minutes taking photographs at the beginning of our meal… silly bloggers!

But then we started eating…

We concluded that the burgers were quite good – they fried up very well, with that crispy outside that I love. Even though we made them extra-thick they cooked all the way through. And they held together perfectly on the bun - no bits falling out or sliding out from under the tomatoes! Even our error of adding whole flax seed instead of ground turned out fine (so if you want to make this recipe and find yourself in the same predicament, just throw the seeds in whole and don't worry.)


The flavor just needed a little kick of something… and the lemon zest was a little strong and needed something else to balance it out. We topped them with lots of horseradish, which seemed to do the trick. Jeremy thought adding the horseradish into the burger mixture before cooking might be a good idea to try next time. Possibly with other spices like ground pepper and cumin as well. While I’m not as big a fan of spicy things as Jeremy is (read his post about The Ingredient and you’ll know what I mean), I still think that these burgers also could have benefited from a higher ratio of roasted peppers to chickpeas – like twice the amount of roasted peppers. And we both agreed that sautéing the onions before mixing them in would have added great flavor.

But it’s a great base idea for a veggie burger – not too heavy on the beans (although I do enjoy a good black bean burger, I like an even mix of veggies most of the time! The roasted peppers in this satisfied that desire quite well), and the addition of sprouts to the mixture was brilliant. Why don’t more veggie burgers have sprouts in them? I love sprouts – hence my putting extra on top the patty even though there were plenty inside it already.

I’d definitely make these again, and just try a few of the changes Jeremy and I thought of. The best thing about cooking burgers at home is they are so versatile!

The recipe says it makes 12-15 small burgers… but we were really hungry, so we ended up with just 4 large burgers and enough leftovers for 2 more.

Recipe from Buff Chickpea
co-chef Jeremy from Jeremy Cooks Dinner

Read Jeremy's veggie burger post HERE.

YumVeggieBurger review #33

Monday, November 8, 2010

Peculier Pub

I met some friends here for drinks Friday evening to celebrate Derek’s emancipation from his terrible office job.

pretty cool bottlecap-art that decorates the whole pub

Rather hungry after spending the afternoon at PS1, I looked through the menu to see what vegetarian fare they might offer – and of course when I saw “veggie burger” I had to look no further!


The patty was definitely a pre-made one that probably arrives frozen in a box. But it was surprisingly decent for such: the main ingredient was rice, which seemed unusual to me, but it worked quite well for texture, and tasted good mixed with the ground-up vegetables it was smashed together with. I think I identified little bits of mushrooms, carrots, and a few other ingredients. And it was nice and crispy on the outside, which always makes me happy.

Our waitress told me that it contained eggs but no dairy – she was very helpful about it, actually offering to go back to the kitchen and read the ingredient list on the package that the burgers came in.


The bun and toppings were rather lacking though: one slice of tomato, a very unappealing leaf of iceburg lettuce, and two tiny pickles. The bun was positively covered in sesame seeds, but was just one of those generic bland-tasting buns.


And it came with fries, which were just mediocre fries – nothing special. Overall, pretty standard pub fare… enough to satisfy your stomach so you can keep drinking, but nothing that would make you come back to eat it while sober.

Note: Be forewarned that this place is cash-only, you have to pay the minute you receive your food or drink (you can’t start a tab or pay at the end of your meal), and for some reason they include 15% gratuity automatically in the bill no matter the size of your party or the amount of food/drink that you order - but this is printed in rather small lettering at the bottom of the menu so could easily be missed… I’m not sure if they count on making extra money in tips from people who don’t read it and automatically leave a normal tip for the waitress, but it’s a very strange system.

Cost: $7.00
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 2      Toppings: 1

Peculier Pub
145 Bleecker Street
btwn Thompson St & Laguardia Pl
New York, NY 10012

YumVeggieBurger review #32

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Natural Frontier Market

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!

Cost: $5.00
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

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bare Burger... in Manhattan!

Wow, three nights of Halloween fun has mandated that today is "recovery day".
Hope everyone dressed up in costume and had a great holiday! :)

Just a short update to let you know that I recently walked past the new Bare Burger location in Greenwich Village, and it looks like it is becoming as popular as the original Astoria one.


So if you read my review of Bare Burger's 4-star veggie burger but thought Queens was too far to travel, now is your chance! I haven't eaten at the new location (yet) but the menu is the same, so it should be just as good.

Bare Burger
535 Laguardia Place
btwn Bleeker and West 3rd Street
Manhattan, NY 10012
Bare Burger location in Astoria, Queens as well