Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Petey's Burger

It’s snowing again!

I ventured out of my apartment this afternoon to deliver Top Secret Cookies to my friend Jeremy, and decided to stop for lunch to try a new veggie burger on the way home.


Petey’s Burger opened a couple years ago, shortly after I moved to Astoria, but this was my first time visiting the restaurant. I admit, I wasn’t expecting too much from their veggie burgers, since although it is a locally-owned establishment, it’s still a fast-food burger joint. Even if their meat-burger did get a lot of praise from Time Out New York

But when I asked the girl at the counter if the burger was vegan or not (the first step in all of my veggie burger adventures), and she called back into the kitchen to ask the chef what ingredients he puts in the burgers when he makes them, I realized that this wasn’t just going to be another generic frozen patty heated up and slapped on a bun!

While the burger isn’t vegan (sorry, vegans!) it is house-made. They both are, actually – Petey’s menu boasts not one but two veggie burger options. The “Garden” (celery, peas, and carrots) and the “Southwestern” (black beans, corn, cilantro, and peppers). Maybe I assumed the burgers would be mediocre because those names sound like they are ripped from a box of Morningstar frozen patties. But now knowing that I had a house-made burger to look forward to, I excitedly ordered the Southwestern.


The bun was your standard fast-food burger bun, lightly toasted. Nothing special. And the lettuce was barely-green iceberg, although the tomatoes were fresh and the spicy mayo was quite tasty.


But the burger patty itself was a total treat – spicy and flavorful, with a fresh sweet crunch from the corn kernals, crispy on the outside just the way I like it, and only slightly falling apart as I bit into it. It’s burgers like these that really exemplify the difference between a homemade patty and one of those mass-produced frozen ones.


Not only was the quality of this burger a most pleasant surprise, it was also the cheapest veggie burger I have ever reviewed at a restaurant thus far! Not bad, Astoria (now can my neighborhood just get a vegan pizza place already? Please?) Plus, they deliver – in case you aren’t crazy enough to walk around in the snow like I am.


Cost: $4.29
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 2      Toppings: 2

Petey’s Burger
30-17 30th Ave
between 30th and 31st Street
Astoria, NY 11102

YumVeggieBurger review #43

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

B.A.D. ("Breakfast All Day") Burger


My friend and I came here for breakfast/end-of-the-night-food at 4:00am after ending a very fun Saturday night at The Whiskey Brooklyn. I had just read about B.A.D. in Time Out New York - A 24-hour breakfast place? Sounded good to me (yes, it’s not unlike a diner, but those get boring after awhile, and never have good veggie burgers!)

Michelle happily ordered the "lumberjack” pancakes with vegan sausage. But even though a lot of the menu’s offerings sounded delicious, I was excited to try a new veggie burger. There are actually three veggie burgers to choose from on the menu: black bean, portobello, or beet. I love beet-based burgers, so I chose the later option, with guacamole and soy jack cheese.


The burger arrived sans soy cheese – our waiter apologized, saying they were out of it. It’s a rather new restaurant, so perhaps they initially underestimated how much demand there would be for their vegan alternatives, since they were out of the soy sausage for Michelle’s pancakes too, and gave her a soy hotdog instead.


Since the waiter told me the beet burger was 100% vegan, I inquired about the bun as well – he told me normally they do have a vegan bun, but they were out of it that day (again!). Since I’m not actually vegan myself, I ate the bun anyway – a soft, slightly sweet roll flavored with onion and poppyseeds. Hopefully they’ll get their vegan products back in stock soon, but I’d recommend asking specifically for the vegan bun when ordering the burgers, as it is not mentioned on the menu.


The burger itself was delicious – the beets were juicy and flavorful, mixed with other things that I was honestly too hungry (and tired after a long night) to properly identify. It was more like a sloppy joe made of beets than an actual burger – I can’t really call it a “patty” since it did not hold its shape, but was more like a pile of chopped beets scooped onto the bun, which begs the question... does it really qualify as a burger, then? The guacamole on top of it was equally tasty, and I didn’t really miss the soy cheese I had tried to order, although I’m sure it would have added a nice layer of flavor.

Definitely the best veggie burger that’s available 24-hours a day though! I’ll have to come back to try the black bean one too. It certainly beats going to a diner at the end of a long night.

In the end, when we got our bill, they only charged us for the burger (I guess since Michelle didn’t get the soy sausage she had been looking forward to all evening with her pancakes), and offered complementary cups of coffee as an apology for the long wait for our food (which didn’t really seem that long to me, but it was a very nice gesture). Like I said, before, I think since it’s still a newish place they are working out a few kinks and hopefully the service will be running smoothly and they will have all their vegan products in stock the next time I find myself craving breakfast after a night out in Williamsburg!


Cost: $8
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 4      Toppings: 3

B.A.D. Burger/Breakfast All Day
131 Grand Street
between Berry St & Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

YumVeggieBurger review #42

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Café Bar

Although I’ve lived in Astoria for several years now, I still had not been to Café Bar until last week. It’s quite a pleasant place – full of interesting decorations and faux stained-glass windows through which sunlight was streaming in. I met a friend here for lunch, and took the opportunity to try out their veggie burger.


The burger (which the menu describes as “homemade”, and which the waitress assured me was vegan) arrived with a side salad, and a small pile of lettuce and tomato in case I wanted to put them on the burger as toppings (I did, but I opted for some greens from the salad instead of the provided lettuce, because the greens looked tastier and the lettuce was just a sad-looking piece with a thick stalk. The tomatos were fine though!)


The bun was delicious, light and sweet and flakey like a pastry, and covered in sesame seeds. Not overwhelmingly sweet, but just the right amount.


The burger patty itself was pretty good too - definitely homemade, soft and flavorful with grains and bits of vegetables, but a little too mashed together to tell exactly what those consisted of. I would have liked it a little chunkier or a little crispier on the outside, something to give it more texture. Perhaps some kind of sauce (aside from the bottle of ketchup provided at our table) would have helped as well.

It was still far better than being served one of those generic frozen pre-made patties, which too many restaurants try to appease vegetarians with! A homemade vegan patty is quite a pleasant thing to find at any restaurant in your neighborhood. We came for lunch on a weekday, but I can imagine the restaurant is a great place for a weekend brunch too.

Cost: $8.00 (fries cost $3 extra)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 4      Toppings: 1

Café Bar
32-90 36th Street
between Broadway and 34th Ave
but the entrance is actually on 34th Ave, despite what the address is listed as!

Astoria, NY 11106

YumVeggieBurger review #41

Friday, January 7, 2011


I did not have high expectations for Goodburger – it looks like your standard fast-food chain, afterall. But I have to admit, when I walked up to the counter to place my order, and asked the cashier if the veggie burger was vegan, her confident “yes” took me by surprise... as did her quickness to alert me to the fact that “the works”, which the veggie comes topped with by default, includes mayonnaise, but I could order it without if I wanted the burger to be completely vegan.

Then I saw this sign while I was waiting for my food:


Fast food that not only knows what vegan means, but advertises a menu item as such??? That’s something I had not expected at all! (the grammar might be a bit off, but it's the thought that counts, right?)

But, lest you get too excited (or fans of fast food too disappointed) – this is how my burger looked when I received it:


That’s more like what I had expected from such an establishment as this.

Barely-green iceburg lettuce, tomato slices that ranged from “okay” to “not ripe enough to eat”, red onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard. The bun was one of those generic pre-packaged ones, but at least it was whole wheat (another option which the helpful cashier had offered to me when I placed my order) and it was fresh – lightly toasted, but not stale like too many generic buns I have encountered over the course of this endeavor.


The best part of this burger was definitely the patty – I was surprised by how good it was, sandwiched between such mediocre buns and toppings. But it was grilled to a crisp on the outside, and warm and soft on the inside, and actually quite tasty. Filled with a mash of vegetables, I could pick out pieces of individual ones to identify: carrots, corn, red peppers, soy beans, and – the biggest surprise – zucchini!


Is Goodburger fast food or not? I don’t know – it’s not as bad as other fast food burger chains which shall not be named here…But the interior feels like a fast food place, and with six locations in NYC I think it qualifies. It’s actually a little more expensive than you would expect a burger to be from a fast food place – or at least you would expect that price tag to include fries, which this one does not! It's not "the best in New York" as their advertising tries to claim, but I still have to say it’s probably the best veggie burger I’ve eaten or will ever expect to eat from a fast food chain.


Cost: $6.20 (does not include fries)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 2      Toppings: 2

977 8th Ave
between 57th & 58th Street
New York, NY 10019
five other locations in Manhattan - check their website for the addresses

YumVeggieBurger review #40

Monday, January 3, 2011

Curly's Lunch

UPDATE: Curly's is now closed. RIP delicious veggie burgers! :(
Original review archived below:

I’ve walked by Curly’s hundreds of times, but was always on my way to eat somewhere else, or had just finished a meal at another restaurant. So in the midst of holiday shopping, I took a break to grab a burger for lunch here.

Inside is warm, colorful, and cozy – so cozy that I had to wait a few minutes for a table to empty up, even though it was a bit late in the afternoon for lunch. While I waited I looked at the crayon drawings customers have done on placemats, now taped to the walls as decoration.


Once I was seated, I looked over the menu and tried to decide which of the nine burger options I wanted to try. I love having so many options! I settled on the bacon and cheddar burger (the menu states that “we’ll make any item vegan if you ask! Vegan cheese +.75”).


My plate arrived loaded with curly fries, of course!


Look at that melty vegan cheese… pretty sure it was Daiya, although the menu did not specify. Quite tasty. Even though I’ve gotten used to eating burgers without cheese, it was a nice change of pace to indulge in on a cold, winter day.


The burger was deliciously crispy on the outside, and wonderfully hearty and nutty on the inside. The menu explains that the patty consists of “soy protein, black beans, seeds, vegetables, onion, and garlic”. I wish all “diner food” tasted so good! The bun was perfect – sweet and soft, just the right size and texture for a burger.

I was disappointed by the vegan bacon though – I was expecting something crispy, like tempeh bacon… but this was just slabs of too-salty tofu. Too soft, and more salty than smokey or bacon-flavored. I’m really not a huge fan of fake bacon to begin with, but I’ve had some vegetarian sandwiches where a crispy, smokey substitute really complemented the other flavors well. This burger was not one of those, unfortunately. I ended up pulling it off and taking the greens that were served on the side and eating the rest of the burger with them in place of the bacon.

Aside from that though, it was definitely a quality burger. I would certainly return to try the other burger options on the menu… and non-burger options as well. I really wanted to get some dessert, but the burger and fries were so filling that I couldn’t even finish what was on my plate. Oh well, next time!


Cost: $9.25 +&0.75 for vegan cheese
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 5      Toppings: 3

Curly’s Lunch
328 east 14th Street
between 1st and 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

YumVeggieBurger review #39