Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Field Roast Hand-Formed Veggie Burger

This probably officially makes me a dork, but one of the things I was looking forward to as I planned my visit to Los Angeles was not just the new veggie burgers I could try in local restaurants, but the possibility of new veggie burgers at the grocery stores as well.

I’ve been wanting to try Field Roast’s veggie burgers for ages (I stalk them on facebook) because I love their vegan sausages so much. But, alas, I have been unable to find them in New York! I’ve checked multiple Whole Foods locations and numerous local natural food stores, but it seems they have just not made it to the Big Apple yet.

So I was thrilled to find them at a Whole Foods in California!


At $8.99 for a pack of four, they were a bit pricy, but I was so excited to try them that I figured the price would be worth it.

Eager to finally taste them, I didn’t even wait for lunch or dinner – I fried one up for breakfast the next morning.

I was a bit dubious about the look of the patty as I dropped it into the frying pan (but I guess that’s the “hand-formed” shape the packaging advertised?) and they seemed thinner than I was expecting a good, hearty burger to be (they come with all four smashed together in the package and you kind of have to peel them off of each other).


And I was unfortunately kind of disappointed with the result when I tasted my breakfast burger patty. There were some good flavors in it, but it was super oily. I had fried it in a tiny bit of butter, but it seemed like the patty had plenty of oils in it already, and by the time it was cooked up it was extremely greasy. The texture was pretty good though – a bit like the Field Roast sausages, but different (heartier, and… meatier?).

As underwhelming as my breakfast had been, I was determined to give these burgers another chance. The guesthouse we were staying in had a rooftop deck with a barbecue grill, and we’d been planning to cook dinner up there one night:


So that’s what we did.


Knowing from my earlier experiment that the burger already contained plenty of oil, I didn’t even bother to brush olive oil on the patty like I normally would when barbecuing veggie burgers. I just dropped it on the grill, and let it cook…


…and it turns out, these might be the BEST veggie burgers EVER for cooking on a barbecue grill!


It cooked perfectly, heating up all the way through and getting nice char marks from the grill, while never sticking or falling apart (a flaw of many other veggie burgers). I was amazed!

And then for the taste test:

I went a little overboard with the ketchup…

DELICIOUS! It seemed that grilling was the secret to success with these patties. It no longer tasted too oily, and the texture was perfect. The flavor was rich and hearty – they’re made with barley, carrots, and celery, and you could see bits of the actual vegetables in the patty, yet the seitan base of the patty held it all together so well. Paired with some roasted habanero peppers and a toasted bun, it was a perfect burger!


I was so happy that my first impression of these burgers turned out to be wrong. Maybe there is a way to cook them in a frying pan that works better than the method I used, but I think these burgers are designed and destined for the barbecue grill. And if you have ever been frustrated by veggie burger failures on the grill, you should definitely try these! They will change your life! And they’re vegan, so everyone can enjoy them (unless you can’t eat gluten, then you’re out of luck with these).

It’s just too bad we don’t seem to get them in New York yet… but maybe by the time summer (and barbecue season) rolls around…

Or, you know, you could just fly out to L.A. – it’s a pretty cool city, afterall!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Field Roast Hand-Formed Burger
purchased at: Whole Foods in Venice, CA
price: $8.99 for a package of 4 patties

YumVeggieBurger review #151

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Café Gratitude

I was really excited to try the veggie burger at Café Gratitude, because numerous people had recommended this restaurant to me as one of the best vegan spots in L.A.!


The veggie burger is described as “magical” on the menu, which made me smile (all of the menu items get their own creative adjective).


The burger arrived on a hearty, whole grain bun. This bread was pretty great quality bread, but it was far too large and thick for the size of the patty and toppings! Unfortunately, all I could taste in the first few bites (in most bites, actually) was bread. And it was so filling I could not eat it all, and resorted to eating the second half of my burger as an open-faced sandwich, removing the top half of the bun.


The patty itself was much better – a tasty blend of beans and spices. I wish it had been larger, as it seemed surprisingly small to be paired with such an oversized bun! It was also a bit mushy, and I thought it would have benefited from a crispier outside or some other texture mixed in.

The toppings were pretty simple: lettuce, tomato, raw red onion, and pickled cucumbers. The pickles were nice, but there weren’t many of them, so I was only able to taste them in a couple bites. I think the mustard sauce and spicy chipotle ketchup just got absorbed into the mushy patty and bready bun, as I only tasted a hint of them. And again, like the patty, there were not enough toppings to match the oversized bun!


Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed with Café Gratitude’s veggie burger (especially for $13…). It was a decent burger, definitely higher quality than the average veggie burger from a non-vegan restaurant, but I think it was too over-hyped for me. I would love to hear what others liked about it, since I feel like I must be missing something, or maybe my taste is just very different (or I’ve been spoiled by some seriously stellar veggie burgers?).

But my omnivorous boyfriend, cheerfully game for another vegan restaurant adventure with me, absolutely loved the “Humble” Indian Curry Bowl that he ordered – so Café Gratitude must be doing something right to win over an avid-meat-eater like that!

I wish we’d have more time in Los Angeles (2 weeks is not long enough!) to come back so I could try some other dishes on the menu, as I have noticed that sometimes the best veggie burgers are not found in all-vegan restaurants, and sometimes the best all-vegan restaurants do a lot better on other menu items than the veggie burger.

Cost: $13.00
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 3      Toppings: 3

Café Gratitude
639 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90004
additional locations in Venice, Santa Cruz, and Berkley, CA as well as one in Kansas City, MO (check website for addresses)

View from our hike to the Hollywood sign

YumVeggieBurger review #150

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Veggie Burger Review from California: Seed

Happy New Year!

2015 has been non-stop so far – but all good things. After a lovely vacation and Christmas in Los Angeles, I’m back in New York, back at work, and catching up on veggie burger reviews. And as promised, I tried a few veggie burgers while I was out in California...

First up: Seed.
I picked this vegan restaurant to try because it had so many good reviews on Yelp, and had SIX veggie burgers on its menu! (The fact that it was close to where we were staying in Venice Beach helped too, of course).


I ordered the Simmered BBQ Seitan Burger, because it sounded like something unique that I had not tried before.


It came topped with greens, sprouts, vegan mayo, and of course the barbecue sauce which the seitan patty was smothered with. Yum! I liked the barbecue flavor. The ciabatta bun was very good, with great flavor and texture, and just the right size for the burger – not too big or too small. I’m a bit of a Goldilocks about burger buns!


Now, I’ve had some seitan-based burgers before, where the seitan is mixed with other vegetables or proteins to create a unique burger patty. But this is the first time I’ve just had a slab of seitain on its own as a burger patty, and I have to say it was a little disappointing. I find the texture of seitan enjoyable in something like a stir-fry, for example, but it was a bit too soft and spongy for a burger.

Simmered BBQ Seitan Burger
Cost: $11.50
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

My boyfriend, normally a meat-eater, had generously agreed to accompany me to a few all-vegan restaurants on this trip. And since he ordered a burger at Seed as well, I got to try two burgers in one meal!


He chose the Mediterranean Burger, which came on the same delicious ciabatta bun, and was topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a very tasty red pepper vegan aioli sauce.


The patty was described on the menu as “Eric’s original bean & grain burger” and was a much more traditional veggie burger patty than my seitan patty. It was really tasty, albeit a bit crumbly, and fell apart as I ate it. I’m not sure what about the patty or the toppings was necessarily “Mediterranean”, but whatever the flavor profile was, I liked it! I actually had food-envy as I found my boyfriend’s burger much more enjoyable than my seitan burger (that might have been a first for our relationship!).

Mediterranean Burger
Cost: $10.95
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Burger patty: 4       Bun: 4      Toppings: 4

1604 Pacific Avenue
Venice, CA 90291

Everything else on the menu at Seed sounded delightful (so many yummy vegan dishes!), and I had hoped I would have time to return and try something else – but there are so many vegetarian/vegan restaurants in L.A. (I never thought I’d say this – but I think L.A. has NYC beat for sheer quantity of vegan food!) and I only had two weeks to explore and try as many of them as I could! More veggie burger reviews coming soon...

Sunset over Venice Beach

YumVeggieBurger review #149