Friday, February 25, 2011

Definitely not about veggie burgers...

If you haven't already heard, the House of Representatives recently voted to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood...

I find this horrific, as Planned Parenthood is an amazing organization that uses that funding to provide education, cancer screening, STD tests, and birth control to millions of Americans. They are being attacked by anti-choice groups who desperately want to destroy Planned Parenthood solely because of the abortion services that the organization offers women. These anti-choice groups are are apparently willing to sacrifice the health and lives of everyone who needs the many other services that Planned Parenthood offers, just to make their statement about abortion.

Whatever your personal beliefs about abortion are, denying women access to pap smears, breast exams, and other preventative care is completely unacceptable. Please realize that Planned Parenthood is about far more than just providing abortions. They provide the education and birth control (for those who would otherwise have no access to either) that prevent unintended pregnancies, thus negating the need for abortions.

When I was in college, I volunteered for Planned Parenthood and worked in their prenatal clinic, assisting some amazing doctors and midwives. That's right - Planned Parenthood provides healthcare for women who are pregnant, and who are planning to carry those pregnancies to term and keep their babies!
The women who receive this care are extremely poor, and often have no support system or come from abusive households. I saw homeless, pregnant, 16 year old girls come into the clinic, after having been beaten by their boyfriends. Planned Parenthood not only provides medical care for them during and after their pregnancies, but also employs social workers who work with these women to help them sign up for Medicaid, food stamps, etc. The anti-choice groups who are so adamant that every pregnant woman should have no option but to carry her pregnancy to term don't offer services like this. In fact, it seems like they don't care what happens to pregnant women or their babies, just as long as those babies are not aborted. But once a woman makes the choice to continue her pregnancy, anti-choice groups are no longer interested in the fetus's well-being, or whether its mother can obtain healthcare or afford to support it.

In short, the House has just voted to take away basic healthcare from millions of Americans. Hopefully the Senate will reverse this decision, but the fact that this appalling attack on Planned Parenthood's funding even made it this far is terrifying.

There is a big rally going on in New York City tomorrow - details here
(check Planned Parenthood's website to find out about events in other parts of the country)

You can also sign Planned Parenthood's open letter to Congress here.

And most importantly, spread the word - to your friends who would be support this cause but just haven't been paying attention to the news lately, to people who may have differing views on abortion but are uneducated about all the other health services that Planned Parenthood offers, to everyone - because everyone needs affordable healthcare.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I had jogged past this place a few times during my temporary stay in Williamsburg last summer, and thought it looked terribly cute. So I looked it up online, and lo and behold! Not only did it still sound as cute as it had looked, but it served a house-made veggie burger as well! (not vegan, though)


So I came back one night for dinner to try it. The place was just as cozy inside as it had appeared from the outside. A group of people who obviously knew the bartender were all seated around the bar having a jovial evening. After he took my order, the bartender even gave me a leftover cookie since it was the end of the day and they were going to be throwing out all the unsold pastries. He told me they did all their baking downstairs in the basement – and the bun that my house-made black bean burger would be served on was homemade too!

Let me preface this by saying that black bean burgers are the reason that I first started thinking of veggie burgers as really good food, and realized they could be more than the nightmarish generic frozen patties. My college cafeteria cooked a pretty decent black bean burger, and since then I have found some frozen ones I enjoyed also (which I will be sure to review at a later date!)

But this is by far the best black bean burger I have ever had. Not the best burger overall, but if there were a category for black bean burgers alone, this would take top honors!


The patty was thick and moist and flavorful – it held together well, too, which was most impressive given its size and consistency. I think there were some other vegetables ground up in it with the beans too, but the beans were definitely the dominant flavor.


It was topped with lettuce, tomato, pickled vegetables and garlic dill aoli.
And the bun was delicious – true to what the bartender had said, it definitely tasted like it was made in a bakery! Sweet and light and fluffy – like a pastry.

Cost: $8
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 5      Toppings: 4

352 Bedford Ave
between S 4th Street and S 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

YumVeggieBurger review #48

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Joe's Inn

For my second sampling of Richmond’s veggie burgers, I picked Joe’s Inn because a couple reviews on Yelp claimed it serves the ”best veggie burger in Richmond”. How could I pass that up?

It was dinner time when I arrived, and judging by the number of people crowding into the restaurant while I was there, it must be a popular place. Not modern or overly “hip”, but cozy and comfortable and it seemed to draw customers of all ages, from elderly couples to groups of students. And they were playing Radiohead on the sound system, which is always a plus for me.


I ordered the veggie burger and a glass of sweet tea (you can’t pass up sweet tea when you’re in the south, right?). My waitress told me that she thought the veggie burger was very good too, and confirmed that the patty is vegan although she said she was not 100% sure if the bun was. “It might contain whey,” she warned.


The menu lists the ingredients in the homemade burger: “Bulgur wheat, lentils, mushrooms, onions, leeks, celery, garlic, and cashews”. Yum! I was quite impressed by that list. And they did not disappoint – the patty was rich and nutty, and tasted almost sweet. It was soft and mushy, a bit softer than I normally prefer in burgers but the texture was hearty enough to make up for that. Quite impressive for a handmade burger, I can see why so many people raved about it in reviews.

My only complaint would be that it could really use a kick of something – a little spice or something tangy perhaps. The texture and the ingredients used are great, but it's just missing that little extra flavor that would make it really amazing.


It came topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo (so even if the bun was vegan, you’d have to make sure to order it without the mayo!). Maybe a spicy mayo would have given the whole thing the kick that it lacked, or some pickled onions. The bun was pretty good, above average but not stunning. The skinny fries that I chose as my side (other choices were coleslaw or potato salad) were good but the burger filled me up so much that I couldn’t eat even half of them.


Cost: $6.95
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 3      Toppings: 2

Joe’s Inn
205 N Shields Ave
Richmond, VA 23220

YumVeggieBurger review #47

Friday, February 11, 2011

821 Café

I took a trip down to Richmond to visit my high school friend Christine for her 25th birthday and a weekend of fun festivities. Of course, I knew I had to try a few veggie burgers while I was there.


821 Café popped up in my research prior to the trip as the only restaurant that specifically advertised a vegan burger on their menu. So while Christine was at work one afternoon, I walked the mile and a half from her place to 821 Café on a quest for vegan burgers (I note the distance because, while I walk distances like that in New York all the time, it seemed nearly heroic in a city where everyone travels by car). Plus, their website describes the café as “hipster cool”, so I was curious to see what “hipster” means outside of New York City… (turns out, the definitions are pretty similar).

It’s a cute, quirkly little place. Definitely trendy, but I can’t fault any restaurant for that when it means vegan options on the menu. When I sat down, the waitress announced that they were out of a couple things that day: “the catfish, and the vegan burger”. My heart sank. How could they be out of the exact thing I wanted to order? “We can serve the regular veggie burger with the vegan toppings if you want, but it has egg in it”. Since I’m not vegan myself, I decided that was a fair compromise, although I was disappointed to not be able to write a true review of the vegan burger (I’m still tagging this entry as vegan because hopefully vegans will have better luck than me, and visit the café on days when they are not out of stock). I suppose it’s a good sign that there is enough demand for the vegan burger though!


So my non-vegan burger arrived topped with sprouts, spicy mustard, avocado, and tomato. The kind waitress even double-checked to find out for me that the bun was vegan, too.


Although the patty was a pre-made one, probably frozen (which explains how they could run out, if it’s something they purchase rather than making in the café) it was one of the better pre-made patties I have eaten. I tried to identify it’s ingredients: onions, peppers, beans, carrots, rice, and possibly mushrooms. It was crispy on the outside, and warm and textured on the inside. Not bad. Not as hearty as a homemade burger, but that’s to be expected.


The toppings were what really elevated an otherwise-mundane patty. Avocado is one of my favorite burger toppings, and sprouts add a great, unique crunch. Athough I am normally not a fan of mustard, I actually really liked the spicy mustard on this burger. The bun was pretty good too, so overall I found it to be quite a satisfying lunch.

The sides you can choose from (included in the cost of your burger) are numerous, but I ended up going with the herbed orzo – tasting strongly of rosemary, with bits of sundried tomatoes – which was delicious. The café was heavily populated with students from the VCU campus across the street, although I also saw an old man and a couple with a baby eating lunch on the other side of the room. Given the very reasonable prices and extensive menu, I cam imagine that if I lived in Richmond, I would probably end up eating here quite often.


Cost: $6.50
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 2      Bun: 3      Toppings: 4

821 Cafe
825 W Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23220

YumVeggieBurger review #46

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recipe: Fiesta Tempeh-Bean Burger


When the delightful Lindsay of Cook.Vegan.Lover invited me to be a tester again for her latest ebook, I knew I would get to try some delicious recipes, but I hadn't expected to find a new veggie burger at the same time!

The recipe for Fiesta Tempeh-Bean Burgers is marvelous. They're vegan, and the patties hold together better than most non-vegan burgers that use eggs as a binder, because Lindsay has figured out the perfect combination of ingredients to make that happen. Even though they're called bean burgers, they aren't as bean-centric as most bean burgers that I've tried. Here, the beans combine with other vegetables resulting in great texture and flavor. Slightly spicy, very savory, and filling.

And they were really easy to make, thanks to the handy-dandy second-hand food processor that I inherited from my good friend Jeremy! The recipe could be pretty versatile too if you wanted to add or remove certain vegetables, or try different types of beans.

sizzling away on the frying pan

The recipe makes six burgers, but since I was only cooking for myself that day (what can I say, it was a snow day and everyone else was at work) I ended up freezing the extra patties. And they were just as good when I heated one up in the frying pan a few days later.

the burger patties aren't small, the (delicious) rolls I bought near my apartment are just oddly-proportioned and make them look funny!

I loved these, and will definitely be making them again (now that I've eaten all the ones I had stored in my freezer).

The recipe is included (along with many others) in the ebook:
available for purchase through Lindsay's blog
...and yes, that is vegan sushi you see on the cover!

UPDATE: Lindsay has posted the recipe on her blog as well - you can find it HERE.

YumVeggieBurger review #45

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


UPDATE: Counter is now closed. Original review archived below:

After hearing on several NYC restaurant blogs about the imminent closing of this well-known vegan/vegetarian restaurant, and after reading Marty’s Flying Vegan Review post about eating dinner (and veggie burgers) there, I decided I had to try it before it disappeared.


I arrived just as they were opening their doors for dinner, so I was the only person there for awhile, but I got to chat with the bartender about veggie burgers and filmmaking, and by the time I had finished my meal there were quite a few other people arriving and being seated at tables.

Even though I knew I was ordering the veggie burger – the “East Side Burger” (house-made seitan-mushroom burger & potato bun) – I took a few minutes to peruse the rest of the menu, and it all sounded delicious. And mostly vegan: the veggie burger is vegan, and the menu notes that the handful of items that contain dairy are made with “local – sustainable dairy with no animal rennet.”


The burger arrived with a side of very tasty fries (or “hand cut pommes frites” as the menu calls them). That burger might look a little small in the photo, but it was quite filling! The patty is about an inch thick, and the bun is very thick too (almost too thick, it was hard to fit my mouth around the burger to take a bite!), but very sweet and tasty.


There were some greens, tomatoes, and pickled red onions on my plate to the side of the burger, so I loaded it up with them before taking my first bite.

I was a bit wary of the taste of the patty since mushrooms are the second ingredient listed, and I’ve mentioned before how much I dislike mushrooms… but honestly, even as a mushroom-hater, I still enjoyed this burger. I could definitely taste the mushrooms, but their texture wasn’t noticeable (the seitan took center stage in that arena, and the texture of the burger was wonderful). And the flavor was rich and savory, just what you want a burger to be.

the candle-lit ambiance is lovely for restaurant guests, but unfortunately necessitates the use of my camera's flash in photographing veggie burgers.

I can see why people are sad about this place closing. Although the prices (what had kept me away until now) are a bit steep, I could definitely imagine myself bringing friends here for special occasions in the future if it were to stay open. And it’s close to my favorite vegan ice cream spot, Lula’s!

update: Counter closed. RIP :(

Cost: $16
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

105 1st Ave
between 6th & 7th street
New York, NY 10003

YumVeggieBurger review #44

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Virginia is for lovers... of veggie burgers?


I'll be heading down south soon to celebrate an old friend's 25th birthday.
Does anyone have any recommendations for veggie burgers to try in Richmond, Virginia while I'm there?