Friday, July 22, 2011

Candle Cafe

This was a belated birthday present from my awesome Dad, who gave me a gift card to Candle Café back in April when I was too busy working on a film shoot to eat any veggie burgers. And then I’ve just been working too much (or camping, or going to the beach…) since then, and the upper east side is not exactly a neighborhood I find myself in very often. So it took me a few months to finally redeem the giftcard…


Someone told my dad that this restaurant was supposed to have one of the best veggie burgers in the city, and I had already had it on my to-try list too. But because it was also a birthday dinner, my friend and I had to treat ourselves to an appetizer too…

These seitan chimichurri skewers were AMAZING. If you go to Candle Café, you absolutely MUST order them!

But on to the veggie burger…


Completely vegan (like everything at Candle Café), the burger is described as a “seitan burger on seeded bun”, I splurged and paid an extra $2 for tapioca cheese… because, well, tapioca cheese! I’ve never seen or heard of tapioca cheese, and I’m always interested in trying new vegan cheeses.

all stacked up with the toppings

This is why I normally do not have photos taken of myself eating, haha.

The bun was hearty and very seedy, slightly sweet – it tasted very good although it was a bit chewier than I expected in a burger bun. It was closer to the consistency of a chewy french baguette.

The patty itself was heavily flavored with herbs – rosemary in particular stood out to me. It was delicious, and the taste kind of reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing. But unlike our juicy seitan appetizer, the burger was a little bit drier and breadier. It didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of it too much though, because my toppings compensated for it…


The tomatoes were perfectly ripe and juicy (it appeared that the chef had even cut out the center of one of the slices, something I myself do at home to avoid tough or green centers, but something I rarely see in a restaurant! How awesome!), the lettuce was fresh and crispy, and the onions added a nice crunch. But the tapioca cheese stole the show. Simply amazing! Perfectly melty and gooey, it tasted similar to daiya, which I have since learned (through google) also contains tapioca. Is daiya what Candle Café uses, or do they make their own tapioca cheese? Does anyone know? Either way, delicious. I normally hate paying extra for additional toppings, but in this case I would say it is definitely worth it, because including the cheese balances out the textures and moisture and elevates the burger to a much higher level.

And of course I had to order the vegan cheesecake for dessert ;)


Cost: $13 (+$2 for tapioca cheese)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 4      Toppings: 5

Candle Café
1307 3rd Avenue
between 74th and 75th street
New York, NY 10021

YumVeggieBurger review #67

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Bare Burger location coming to Astoria


As I mentioned in my last post, there's a second Bare Burger location opening up in our neighborhood, on the corner of 23rd Avenue and 31st Street.

We Heart Astoria has also posted about this new Bare Burger - no word yet on when it will officially open. It will be nice to have such delicious veggie burgers closer to my apartment, although given that 31st Street is right under the elevated train tracks I doubt the outdoor seating (if they offer any) at this spot will be as pleasant as the outdoor seating on 31st Avenue.

Read my review of the original Bare Burger location HERE

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Best Veggie Burgers in Astoria

This post is part of the Astoria Blog Carnival, hosted by We Heart Astoria

I have a lot of Astoria pride.
Sure, the first thing most people think of when they hear "Astoria" is "The Beer Garden!" (and I don't even drink beer)... and we may not have as many vegan/vegetarian restaurants here as Manhattan and Brooklyn do (I'd die happy if Vinnie's would open a location here)...

But I love my neighborhood. I love the people, the restaurants, the bars, the shops, the park, the bridges, my lovely apartment and front patio where I grill a ton of food in the summer...

And guess what? We have some restaurants serving delicious veggie burgers right here in Astoria:

Astor Bake Shop
This is #2 in my Top Ten list of the best veggie burgers I've ever eaten. Seriously. It's an amazing lentil patty with pickled onions and horseradish sauce on a deliciously sweet bun. Everything else from this bakery is brilliant as well, so if you've been putting off visiting because it's a bit of a walk from the more central areas of Astoria, let me assure you it is worth the trip.
[click for full review and more info]

5 Napkin Burger
Yes, 5 Napkin has locations in Manhattan as well... but it's become a pretty popular Astoria spot since it opened last year. And it's rare and awesome to find a burger place that gets tons of praise for its meat burgers but ALSO has a veggie burger equally worthy of such high praise! This one is #3 on my Top Ten list.
[click for full review and more info]

Sparrow Tavern
Don't let the pita fool you - despite the unorthodox bun, Sparrow's veggie burger is #7 on the Top Ten list. Richly-flavored and spicy, it's a delicious brunch... or dinner... or drunkfood (I think I've eaten it for all three occasions at various times).
[click for full review and more info]

Bare Burger
Of course I couldn't leave out Bare Burger, could I? This place has been such a hit in Astoria that it has now opened two (or more?) locations in Manhattan, and is opening a second Astoria location near Ditmars in the near future. Their veggie burger is hearty and satisfying - and with their extensive menu, you can choose from a variety of toppings so you'd never get bored if you wanted to come back and eat the veggie burger again and again... Which is why it's #8 on my Top Ten list too.
[click for full review and more info]

Just Burgers
A very recent addition to the Ditmars area, Just Burgers is another one of those burger joints that lets you choose from a long list of toppings to customize your burger. What makes them stand out though is their veggie burgers which are made from quinoa and fresh vegetables. I'm surprised I don't see quinoa in burgers more often, because it's great!
[click for full review and more info]

Petey's Burger
I'm always pleasantly surprised when fast-food-esque burger joints have good veggie burgers. Petey's is fast, inexpensive, tasty, and I hear they have now added a third variety of veggie burger to their menu! (I have only tried the Southwestern so far).
[click for full review and more info]

Café Bar
I came here for brunch one day and was pleasantly surprised to see a veggie burger on the menu - and a house-made one at that! Full of grains and delicious vegetables.
[click for full review and more info]

I know there are still more veggie burgers in the neighborhood that I haven't reviewed yet... Blackbirds comes to mind (I have actually eaten their burger, and remember it being quite good, but that was back before I started the blog), and I hear the newly-opened EcoTable has one on their menu as well.
What's your favorite veggie burger in Astoria?

Thanks to We Heart Astoria for the invitation to participate in this blog carnival!
Click HERE to return to the main page of the Astoria Blog Carnival.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I reviewed the veggie burger at Enid's last August, back in my early days of veggie-burger-reviewing, but recently I returned to the restaurant for drinks one evening with a friend. And after a couple whiskeys, we started to think we might be hungry for some bar snacks...

That's when I noticed this item on the menu: "Slider Trio: burger, veggie burger, pulled pork"

I eagerly asked our bartender if I could order the trio with just three veggie burgers, instead of the meat ones. Sometimes restaurants are needlessly grumpy about substitutions like that, but Enid's was happy to accomodate my vegetarian request (this is also the restaurant which says that many of their items, including veggie burgers, "can be made vegan upon request", so I should have known they would be nice like that!).


Look how cute they are! This was my first time ever eating sliders. Even before I became a vegetarian, I was not a big fan of hamburgers. And I've only heard of restaurants serving veggie sliders a couple times. So I was really excited to finally be able to order them!

In my hand, so you can see just how adorably miniature they are!

And they were just as delicious as I remember Enid's full-seized veggie burger being. I shared one with my friend and he, a meat-eater, found it incredibly enjoyable as well. Spicy, mixed vegetable patty topped with a pickle and dijon mayo, all held together with a cute little sweet-tasting bun. Perfect bar food, really! So I'd encourage everyone to request the all-veggie sliders if you happen to find yourself at Enid's

You can read my original review of Enid's HERE.


Cost: $8
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4      Bun: 5      Toppings: 3

560 Manhattan Avenue
between Driggs & Nassau Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

YumVeggieBurger review #66

Does anyone know of any other restaurants that serve veggie burgers in slider form?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Happy Birthday to Carlea!

Today is the birthday of my amazing friend Carlea, and I wish her the happiest day and the best celebration possible!


Not has Carlea accompanied me to not one but two restaurants so I could gather more veggie burger data while visiting her in Maryland last summer...

But she even humored me enough to indulge my obsession when she visited NYC and we went to Thistle Hill Tavern for dinner. And she ordered the veggie burger too! What an awesome friend :)

She also bakes more delicious desserts than I can dream of, has an ice cream maker which I am insanely envious of, is one of the best writers I have ever met, and somehow manages to blog every single day, without fail which kind of blows my mind.

Happy Birthday, Carlea!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

MorningStar Farms Asian Veggie Patties

So our July 4th Barbecue was a lot of fun – we had enough food to feed an army, and stuffed ourselves so full we could barely fit watermelon and pie in our bellies after all of the grilled foods were eaten.


I wanted to save room for veggie kebabs (should have taken a photo of those, but I was pretty distracted at the time) so I only ate one veggie burger (full disclosure: sometimes I will stuff my face with two when I’m barbecuing them at home!). I picked the Asian Veggie Patties, since MorningStar’s frozen veggie burgers had been on sale when I was at the grocery store that morning.


There are way more varieties and flavors of veggie burgers now than I remember when I became a vegetarian back in high school...

Frozen patty heating up on the grill

These ones are pretty tasty, I bet I would have eaten them on a regular basis as a teenager if they had existed then. The sweet-and-sour flavor is a pleasant surprise in a veggie burger. The patty consists mainly of a light-colored soy faux-meat texture, with carrots, peppers, and other bits of veggies mixed in. Oddly enough, the ingredient list says it contains not only eggs but dairy as well. Not sure why, since some of MorningStar’s other products are definitely vegan.


I loaded it up with lettuce, tomato, red onions, and pickled jalapenos on a whole wheat bun. I’m really into jalapenos on burgers these days. The result: a very tasty Fourth of July burger! I probably wouldn't want to have the sweet and sour flavor every time I eat a burger, but once in awhile to mix things up, these are a great option to have in the freezer.

I was too busy having fun to really take photos of anything other than burgers, but this accidental kinda-panorama pretty much sums up the wonderful evening we had out on the patio.

Oh, and the fireworks later were awesome too. No, not the big Macy’s ones, but the (illegal) display our own neighborhood put on which we could see over the rooftops. Really, just the perfect Fourth of July.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
MorningStar Farms Asian Veggie Patties
purchased at Key Food in Astoria
price: on sale, 2 boxes (4 patties per box) for $7.00

YumVeggieBurger review #65

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

In case you hadn't noticed, I live in the U.S.
So in true July 4th spirit, I am having some friends over for a barbecue this evening. Most of them are meat-eaters, but I'm still stocking the grill with veggie kebabs and veggie burgers!

Ironically, though, the two types of burgers I picked up at the grocery store are probably the least patriotic I could have chosen...

Morning Star's "Asian veggie patties" and "Tomato & basil pizza burger (Italian style)"
haha, I hope they are delicious - will report back later!

Happy Independence Day, everyone!
(and a belated Happy Canada Day, too!)