Monday, March 31, 2014

The Best Thing I Ate This Month That Wasn't A Veggie Burger

... Vegan marshmallow peeps!


Every year I look forward to my annual order of vegan peeps from Sweet & Sara.

I remember when I first became a vegetarian, and realized I could not eat marshmallows anymore. I missed eating peeps around Easter time, and there was no replacement for them. Even regular, plain marshmallows were a challenge: I did find some strange brownish-colored vegan marshmallows at a health food store in my hometown, but they did not quite live up to my expectations.

It wasn't until I moved to New York that I discovered Sweet & Sara's amazing vegan marshmallows. A vegetarian friend of mine bought a box of them from Whole Foods, and I was instantly in love. Later, when I moved into my current apartment in Astoria, I was thrilled to learn that Sweet & Sara's factory is located in Long Island City, just a short bike ride away from me!


These peeps are the cutest - they come in bunny and chick shapes, and they are coated in the tastiest layer of sugar, with hand-painted chocolate features.

And inside... marshmallowy deliciousness!


I bought quite a few (plus one of Sweet & Sara's delicious s'mores treats), and it is taking all my willpower to resist eating them all right away!

Sweet & Sara
Long Island City, NY
(718) 707-2808

Order online and have them shipped to you, if you don't live nearby!
note: if you choose to pick them up instead of having them shipped, you must schedule an appointment to visit the factory to pick them up

Order quickly, as they will definitely sell out!
I also saw these peeps for sale at Lula's Sweet Apothecary in the East Village last week, but I cannot promise they are still in stock. There are plenty of retail locations that stock Sweet & Sara marshmallows (check website for more information) but not all locations stock all of the products or seasonal items like these peeps.

Friday, March 28, 2014


A little history: Hillstone’s veggie burger is the veggie burger that started it all. When I first ate this burger six years ago, my mind was blown. I had never tasted a veggie burger so good before! And it became the standard to which I compared all other veggie burgers. Now knowing just how amazing a veggie burger could be, I started seeking out other amazing ones. A couple years later, I started this blog.

One of the earliest reviews I posted, almost four years ago, was my review of Hillstone’s veggie burger. It was the first five-star review I posted.

June 2010: Me stuffing my face with Hillstone’s veggie burger.

In the years since posting that review, I have heard from a lot of people who also adore this veggie burger as much as I do.

But I also received a few emails from people claiming to know from a source inside the restaurant that the burger is the not really vegetarian: One person said that the glaze used on the patty contained Worcestershire sauce, which typically contains anchovies. I also saw comments on other websites warning that one of the ingredients is fish oil. Devastated to learn that one of my all-time favorite burgers might not be vegetarian, I reached out to Hillstone to see if someone could confirm or deny these rumors.

Joel, the general manager of the Midtown Manhattan location, called me to answer my questions over the phone. He assured me that the burger is 100% vegetarian. The patty itself is vegan, and is coated with a sweet soy glaze (no Worcestershire or fish oil ingredients in it). The bun is not vegan, and neither is the cheese or mayo, but the burger can be requested without these elements if you are vegan. Just make sure to ask your waiter.

I was thrilled to hear this news – and very impressed that Hillstone cares enough about their vegetarian customers to take the time to answer my inquiry and set the story straight!


So, excited to go back and eat this delicious veggie burger again, my boyfriend and I went out for a dinner date.


I ordered my burger without cheese. I noticed that it came with a choice of fries, coleslaw, or tabbouleh. So I decided to try tabbouleh, for a change!


Mmm… When the veggie burger arrived, it looked just as mouth-watering as I had remembered.


The patty is made in-house, and it is complete perfection: a mixture of rice, beans, beets, and other ingredients glazed with that (100% vegetarian!) sweet soy glaze. It is savory and sweet at the same time, and simply delicious.


Topped with pickles, onion, lettuce… and the juiciest, reddest tomatoes! Plus mayonnaise and mustard. The patty steals the show, but the toppings are tasty too. And the bun is perfect– soft and sweet, just the right size fit the width of the large patty. I compared it to a pastry in my previous review, and I still agree that it is one of the nicest buns I have tried.

Photo credit to the brilliant cinematographer Liam Le Guillou,
who said his (100% NOT vegetarian) cheeseburger was exceptionally good as well.

Of course, it’s a bit messy, as many good burgers are – and it started to fall apart in my hands after I took this bite (in case you can't tell from the photos, it is a massive burger!) I used my fork to eat all the leftover bits off my plate after I finished devouring what I held in my hands, because it was so good I did not want to miss a morsel.

And the tabbouleh was quite good as well! I liked it as a lighter, healthier choice instead of French fries. The burger is plenty filling on its own!

Thank you, Hillstone!

This is still one of my top favorite veggie burgers of all time. And Hillstone is a great option for a romantic date night if you’re a vegetarian dating an omnivore (or vice-versa) - I wish all restaurants served a vegetarian option as good as this one!

Cost: $20
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Burger patty: 5       Bun: 5      Toppings: 4

153 East 53rd Street
at the corner of Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022
Read my original review of the Park Avenue South location here.
Additional locations throughout the U.S. – check website for addresses

YumVeggieBurger review #127

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

RIP 5 Napkin Burger Astoria

Sad news for my fellow Astorians: 5 Napkin Burger has closed its Astoria location.

restaurant space emptied, all signage removed.

Although our neighborhood is not lacking for other burger options (we do, afterall, have the amazing veggie burgers at Astor Bake Shop, Bareburger, and Sparrow Tavern!), I will miss having 5 Napkin's delicious veggie burger and veggie sliders so close to one of my favorite yoga studios.

If you still want to try 5 Napkin's 5-star veggie burger, fortunately you can choose from several locations in Manhattan that are still open in Hell's Kitchen, Union Square, and the Upper West Side (addresses listed on their website).

Read my original review of this burger here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hilary’s Eat Well “World’s Best” Veggie Burger

Is it any surprise that there was no way I could resist a name like “The ‘World’s Best’ Veggie burger"?


I picked up a pack (2 veggie patties per pack) of Hilary’s Eat Well “World’s Best” veggie burgers at Whole Foods, determined to find out how they stood up to that claim.

frozen patty going into the frying pan

I fried a patty in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes until both sides were slightly browned.


Then I dressed it up with a bit of fresh spinach, roasted red pepper, and mayo.


The verdict? This is a nice, light burger. Not too dense or filling, it felt very healthy. It’s made of soft, fluffy millet and quinoa, but it did crisp up nicely around the edges when fried. It had a subtle but tasty flavor, with bits of greens mixed in with the grains. It’s not a hearty, meaty burger (and I don’t think it would hold together well on a barbecue grill) but I enjoyed it.


I think it might actually be better on its own, without a bun – I ate the second one in the package that way, a few days later, and it kind of reminded me of eating a breaded fish fillet (not that my memory of what eating fish was like can really be trusted, after over a decade has passed since I last ate it, and it didn’t taste “fishy” at ALL, but something about the texture just reminded me of that fishstick kind of breading…).

Vegan, gluten-free, yeast-free, soy-free, and kosher – this burger is for everyone except people who are allergic to coconut (it doesn’t taste like coconut, don’t worry – coconut is just listed as an allergen warning).

Is it really the “world’s best” veggie burger? Well, no. That’s a bit presumptuous. But it is tasty. And I’ll probably try some of the other flavors of veggie burger that Hilary’s offers.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Hilary’s Eat Well
purchased at: Whole Foods in NYC
price: $3.79 for a pack of 2 burger patties

YumVeggieBurger review #126

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Butcher's Daughter

I’ve eaten breakfast at The Butcher’s Daughter a few times (their vegan bagel and schmear is amazing!), so I was excited to try the veggie burger on their dinner menu.


There’s some scaffolding up around the building right now, so I had trouble getting a decent photo of the storefront…


But the inside is still beautiful:


Although my expectations were high for this veggie burger, the vegan “Butcher’s Burger” did not disappoint. At $16, it is quite a splurge – but it was worth it.


The toasted bun was light and sweet, with a flakey pastry-like top and a soft inside. My favorite kind of bun!

The patty was hearty and earthy, well-flavored with herbs and spices. Not so heavy on the beans (although it is described as a “vegetable black bean burger”), the grains stood out more. It reminded me of vegan sausage, in a way (and I love almost all vegan sausages, so that’s a compliment). It could have been a bit dry if eaten on its own, but not with the delicious toppings that came with it...


...because those toppings were amazing: The cashew cheese (look at those huge slices of it under the patty!) had a mild but intriguing flavor (probably would not taste very cheese-like to someone who has not eaten vegan cheese before, but I enjoyed it). The lettuce and onion were crisp and fresh, the pickles and mayo gave the burger a nice spicy kick, and the “special sauce” was tomatoey and sweet. Really a perfect blend of flavors.

I was so enamored with this burger that I almost neglected the roasted potato wedges that came with it – but they were scrumptious too! Especially with the harissa mayo dipping sauce. YUM.

Definitely a five-star burger!

Cost: $16
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 5      Toppings: 5

Note: “The Butcher’s Burger” is only on the dinner menu, not the brunch or breakfast menu.

UPDATE: Abby Bean reports that things seem to have gone downhill at this restaurant since I posted my review, check out her more recent review here. Hopefully this was just a bad night, and they can get it back on track and bring their food back to 5-star level!

The Butcher’s Daughter
19 Kenmare St
on the corner of Kenmare & Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012

YumVeggieBurger review #125

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Funny keyword searches for my blog

I occasionally like to marvel at the bizarre words and phrases people searched for that lead them to this blog...

Here are my favorites so far:

1.  why people like veggie burgers

2.  vegetarian hipster new york

3.  veg burger good for pregnant women 

4.  buns up at bard college
(that sounds dirty to you too, right? it's not just me?)

5.  burger bed

6.  yum lynx 
(what??? Lynx is my cat's name, FYI)

7.  names for a tofu burger joint

8.  breasts slang 
 (pretty sure this is because of my Hooters post)

9.  the hidden wiki onion 

10.  square balls

Don't forget you can follow YumVeggieBurger on Facebook and Twitter!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blossom Du Jour

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to visit Blossom Du Jour – the smaller fast food spin-off of NYC’s famous vegan restaurant Blossom.


I was already looking forward to trying their veggie burger before I arrived, but even moreso when I looked at the menu and saw that it is called “The Skyscraper”. Yum!


This thing was indeed a towering delight. The bun was fresh and tasted delicious. Chewy, but not too thick. I’m guessing it was made at Blossom’s nearby bakery, where they make all kinds of mouth-watering vegan desserts (more on those in a minute!).


Topped with greens, tomato, pickles, vegan bacon, cheddar cheese (pretty sure it was daiya), fried onion rings, and “special sauce” – wow! What a mouthful. A tangy, tasty mouthful. I was in love with these toppings.

The patty almost got lost underneath everything else – which unfortunately was not such a bad thing, as I was disappointed to find that it seemed like a very average premade faux-meat patty. It was crispy outside, with that stringy, chewy faux-meat texture on the inside. It was the lighter kind of faux meat that I think is trying to imitate chicken more than beef, and the flavor was okay but just not anywhere near the caliber of the rest of the burger. It was rather dry as well, but luckily that was less noticeable with so many juicy toppings.


Somehow I ate the whole thing and still had room for dessert. Because I had spotted these tempting beauties in the display case at the register:


Yup, another vegan cronut! Or “halo” as Blossom has dubbed them. This one was cinnamon sugar flavored. And oh my goodness was it delicious! It’s a good thing I don’t live near Blossom Du Jour, because I would probably make myself ill eating these sugary things every day. Just writing this recap and looking at the photo again is making my mouth water, so I suspect a return visit will be in my near future…

Cost: $8.50 (for the burger, cronut sold separately!)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 2       Bun: 4      Toppings: 5

Blossom Du Jour
259 West 23rd Street
between 7th & 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011
two other locations in midtown and the upper west side as well, check website for address

YumVeggieBurger review #124