Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bard College's Down The Road Cafe

A week ago I went up to Bard College to watch my younger sister graduate. It was really exciting/sentimental, I got to see my whole family together, and the campus is beautiful so it was a nice break from the city for a couple days.

My sister, on the left

Although there were several big celebratory meals planned for the graduates and their families, some of the time we were left to fend for ourselves, so we ended up eating at one of the campus restaurants. And guess what? They served veggie burgers.

fried dough??? not exactly the healthiest menu I've ever seen on a campus!

You get your choice of toppings – there wasn’t anything fancy to choose from, so I just went for the simple: lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo. The bun was fairly standard fare – toasted but tasting a little stale. The side of black pepper potato chips was an extra 75 cents, I think. Students can use their meal plan here, so prices on the menu are listed in “points” as well as dollars.


All-vegan, this patty is actually homemade – which I thought was pretty impressive for a college campus! (the two colleges I attended definitely only served those pre-packaged frozen veggie burgers we are all too familiar with. Some of them weren’t bad for pre-packaged burgers, but they were nothing close to homemade!). Inside was a mix of black beans and rice with lots of vegetables including zucchini, corn, onions, and peppers. It fell apart quite a lot before I even took a bite – although it was fried to a slight crisp on the outside it was still very mushy. But surprisingly tasty, for a college campus!


I’m sure I’d get sick of it pretty fast if I had to eat here every day of the week, like the students do (my sister is so excited to never have to eat another campus meal again!) but still… not bad.

Cost: $3.50 [or 7 mealplan points]
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 2      Toppings: 3

Down The Road Café at Bard College
30 Campus Road
Red Hook, NY 12571

YumVeggieBurger review #58

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I'm back from my roadtrip! And I managed to try two delicious veggie burgers while I was in Canada, so I can't wait to post those reviews - I also have to catch up and post the review of the burger I ate at my sister's college when I attended her graduation last weekend!

And in case you aren't already following Bianca's blog Vegan Crunk, you should definitely check out this great post she wrote about the top 5 burgers in Memphis!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Road Trip!

So it seems that I am heading off on a slightly spontaneous road trip with some new friends I made on the last film shoot!
Our route? Buffalo, then Toronto, then Montreal!

I don't know how much time I will have to track down veggie burgers on this adventure, since my companions most likely have plans to do things other than indulge my crazy obsessions... but I'd like to try to get at least one new out-of-town review. So, dear readers... Any recommendations for me in any of the aforementioned cities? :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just Burgers

UPDATE: Just Burgers is now CLOSED. Original review archived below:

A new burger joint opened up in my neighborhood while I was busy working on the film shoot, and I finally had a chance to check it out the other day. I knew from looking at their menu online that they offered a veggie burger, so I was eager to review it…


Since I’d read a couple blog posts reviewing Just Burgers, I already knew the difference between the “regular” burger and the “mini” burger option on the menu (hint: it’s not what you would think… the “regular” is really two patties, whereas the “mini” is just one. Rather misleading, I’d say…) Since I figured most people just walking in off the street, who hadn’t read blog reviews of the place, would automatically choose the “regular” burger, I ordered it for myself - even though, as I saw them toss the two veggie patties on the grill, I knew one (the “mini”) would have been plenty filling for me.

Speaking of the grill, I was initially very impressed to see that Just Burgers uses a separate grill for their veggie patties and buns, and does not grill them on the same surface as their meat burgers. The grill is right behind the counter where you order, so you can see everything that is going on. Unfortunately, just after I had admired the separate grilling surfaces, I saw one of the cooks use the same metal flipper he had used on the hamburgers to flip my veggie burgers.

I realize this probably happens with the majority of the vegetarian food I order when it is cooked in the same kitchen as meat – and I don’t personally police my food so strictly that I ask about that, or that I would refuse to eat it (I tend to date omnivores, most of my friends eat meat, and I have barbecues at my apartment with a “bring your own meat” policy and let my friends cook their meat on the same grill that I cook veggie burgers on. Life is too short to be uptight). But I realize many vegetarians and vegans feel differently than I do about this – so I want to make sure I make them aware of how the food is prepared at Just Burgers. And, honestly, it annoyed me too – because really, if they are already cooking the vegetarian food on a separate grill, would it kill them to have one or two dedicated flippers that are not used on meat?


But I still ate the burger - I had selected lettuce, tomato, chipotle aioli, and jalapeno relish from the selection of “free” (well, included in the cost of your burger) toppings, and then splurged $1 extra for fresh avocado. I’m a pretty big fan of menus that give you a wide variety of toppings to choose from – and Just Burgers definitely offers that. I especially enjoyed the jalapeno relish, and all of the toppings were fresh and delicious.


The patties (remember, the “regular” burger came with two patties!) were definitely higher quality than you would expect from a cheap and quick burger joint. They are made with quinoa (which none of the staff knew how to pronounce) and “daily fresh veggies” – which seemed to consist primarily of carrots. I asked the staff if the patties were vegan, and they confirmed that they were – although they were not sure if the buns contained dairy or not. Each patty was definitely large enough to be satisfying on its own, so if I come back here I will assuredly only order the “mini” burger next time. They were a bit too soft, no crispiness on the outside – and fell apart quite a lot as I ate my way through the burger. But the flavor was still very good.

I ended up with a “regular” bun because I was so distracted by the unfamiliar menu with so many options to choose from for toppings, that I didn’t realize until after I had placed my order that I could have chosen a multigrain bun instead. I asked if they could change my order while the patties were being cooked, and they assured me that they would, but I still ended up with a plain sesame seed bun. I can’t blame them for that too much though, since I did confuse them with the request after my order had already gone though. While the buns may or may not contain dairy (the staff couldn’t tell me for sure), the girl who took my order did mention that they will serve the burgers on lettuce instead of bread – so you could conceivably order an entirely vegan burger from them.


They have a nice outdoor seating area – which I enjoyed although the day was a bit windy and I had to pin down my napkins to keep them from blowing away. And with the choose-your-own-toppings style of the menu, Just Burgers could be a good place to eat semi-frequently without getting bored. But their confusing approach to the preparation of vegetarian food alongside non-vegetarian food was a bit off-putting, even to a rather laid-back vegetarian like me - if I do return for another burger, I will have to ask them why they bother with separate grills if they use the same cooking utensils on both! Logic...

Cost: $5.15 for a regular burger, $4.15 for a “mini” (my order was $6.15 + tax)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3      Bun: 3      Toppings: 4

Just Burgers
33-01 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105

YumVeggieBurger review #57

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just for fun...

You should watch this:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gardenburger Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger

Well, I’ve (mostly) caught up on all the sleep I lost during the film shoot I spent the last few weeks working on. I finally have a little free time now to post a burger review again, so here’s one that I cooked on the barbecue grill (first grilling of the year!) one afternoon while doing prep work for the shoot.


I had these in my freezer, I think I bought them awhile back to do a review of and then forgot about them. Gardenburger is not a brand I’ve bought before, but I figured you can’t go wrong with black bean burgers most of the time... and these ones are vegan, for all of my vegan readers out there!

frozen, just out of the box

They dried up a little bit on the grill, but that’s unfortunately a common problem for most veggie burgers. I compensate for this by putting lots of juicy toppings on top – like fresh spinach, tomatoes, and grilled onions in this case. As well as a generous spread of chipotle mayo. And you might recognize the bun – these are my favorite, which I pick up at a local market whenever they have them. They’re sometimes a bit small for burgers, but they taste so good.


Yum! Definitely a satisfying break in a long afternoon of work. I cooked one for Kelley, the art director on the shoot who was working with me that afternoon, and she enjoyed it too.


The patties are spicy, with a hearty texture of beans and corn mixed in with peppers and a few other veggies. Black bean burgers always have a richness to them that burgers which try too hard to imitate meat tend to lack. It was tasting a black bean burger for the first time that made me actually like veggie burgers in the first place (way back before I realized they could be even better – orgasmic, even – like some of the amazing ones I have since tasted!), so they are still one of my top choices for store-bought burgers. And Gardenburger’s version is worthy of that place too.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Gardenburger Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burgers
purchased at Key Food in Astoria
price: $4.29 for a box of 4

YumVeggieBurger review #56