Friday, March 6, 2015

White Castle

Full Disclaimer:
White Castle contacted me and sent me info and coupons for their new veggie sliders.
But since I was out of town for most of December and then spent all of January apartment-hunting, packing, and moving into a new apartment, I did not get a chance to use the coupons before they expired. So I paid for the sliders I am reviewing here, and although I am grateful to White Castle for taking an interest in my little blog and offering me the opportunity to try their new menu items, the fact that they sent me a free apron and t-shirt won’t affect the honesty of my review (although the apron is quite useful in the kitchen – thank you, White Castle!).


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This was my first time setting foot in a White Castle restaurant – although of course I had seen Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (did you know that they supposedly made veggie sliders just for one of the actors to eat during the filming of that movie? Kind of crazy that it took another TEN years to get veggie sliders on the real menu for the rest of us civilians!)

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Walking into the restaurant, I noticed signs on each table advertising the new veggie sliders – which seemed like a good omen! But when I stepped up to the register to place my order, the cashier said “We don’t have any more veggie sliders”.

Disappointing, but maybe it was a good thing if the veggie sliders were so popular they were selling out? Hopefully that would show White Castle executives that having a veggie option was a smart move! So I asked the cashier when they would have the sliders back in stock so I could return to try them.

To my surprise, she said they did have them in stock, but “No one is cooking them, so it would take about 10 minutes”. Confused, I tried to clarify: “So, if I wait ten minutes, can I order them?” The cashier seemed shocked that anyone would want to wait 10 minutes, but agreed to take my order, and called back into the kitchen for someone to start cooking veggie sliders.

I was baffled – so they did have the sliders, they just couldn’t be bothered to prepare them for their customers? White Castle had told me that they were training their employees to cook the veggie patties separately from hamburger patties, even using different-colored spatula to keep them separate! But I hadn't anticipated that this would mean it would be such an ordeal to order them. Oh well… at least they would be freshly-cooked!

But I was troubled that the cashier had not given me this information when I first asked to order the sliders. She had simply said “we don’t have any more veggie sliders”. If I had not been persistent and asked a follow up question, I would have left the restaurant assuming they were out of stock. In fact, I had seen a customer in front of me leave after hearing something he wanted was out of stock – I had missed the beginning of his conversation with the cashier, but now I would be willing to bet he’d tried to order the veggie sliders too, and been turned away!

About ten twenty minutes later, my sliders were finally ready:

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They were tiny, and kind of cute – each in its own little cardboard case.

I had ordered three, so I could try each of the three flavors of sauce that are offered with the veggie sliders. First up was the “Sweet Thai” sauce:

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The patties are all Dr. Praeger’s vegan veggie burgers – a mix of carrots, zucchini peas, spinach, and broccoli. I haven’t been too impressed by Dr. Praeger’s burgers in the past, but I have to say, maybe it was the 20 minute wait, but these did not seem too bad. They were a bit mushy, but they were warm and held together well! The Sweet Thai sauce is the only one of the three flavors that is vegan. It was a nice sweet-sour flavor, very mild compared to some sweet Thai sauces I’ve tried.

I wished there were some peppers or greens with the patty, but I guess the whole deal with White Castle’s sliders is that they’re rather minimalist?

Next up, Honey Mustard:

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This sauce contains eggs, but no dairy. I’m not a big mustard fan, but I actually kind of liked it (I guess because it was more sweet than mustard). It seemed like there was a smaller portion of it than there had been of the Sweet Thai sauce, but I was glad the mustard flavor wasn’t too overwhelming.

Third, Ranch Dressing:

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This sauce, containing both eggs and milk, was my least favorite. Maybe someone who really likes Ranch would appreciate it, but I did not care for it. Still, I was hungry, and the sliders are tiny, so I ate the whole thing. The bun was soft and fresh, nothing exciting, but it served its purpose well. The sliders are so small, even three was not terribly filling - perhaps because I missed having real toppings (sauce is not really enough of a topping for me! Even if two of the three sauces weren't bad). But it's kind of nice that they sell them individually, so if you just wanted a small bite you could just stop in and order one on its own! Or twenty, if you were really hungry...

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This White Castle location, near the Port Authority, is hardly a place I’d be in a hurry to return to (it was quite possibly one of the dirtiest restaurants I’ve ever eaten in). But if you are nearby, hungry, and low on cash – or your intoxicated omnivore friends drag you with them on a quest for sliders – at least there is now a vegetarian option here. And I am totally in support of every restaurant, even fast food chains, having those options for their customers!

But all of White Castle’s corporate promotion and advertising of the new veggie sliders seems to be at odds with the staff’s attitude towards them. I should add that it was well into lunchtime (1:30pm) when I arrived. If they didn’t have anyone cooking veggie sliders by then, would they have ever gotten around to cooking them that day, if I had not insisted on ordering them? And does this happen every day?

How is White Castle supposed to evaluate if there is enough demand to keep these on the menu if they are turning away customers who try to order them???

I hope this is just an issue at this one White Castle location – has anyone tried to order the sliders at a White Castle outside of NYC? Or have you been to the NYC one and had better luck than I did?

Cost: $0.99 per slider
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Burger patty: 3       Bun: 3      Toppings: 1

White Castle
525 8th Avenue
between 36th & 37th Street
New York, NY 10018
212.736.4746
additional locations in NYC and around the U.S., check website for addresses

YumVeggieBurger review #155

3 comments:

  1. We don't White Castle in Memphis, which makes me sad because I really wanna try these!

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  2. Huge bummer! The texture of the burger you describe is spot on for Dr. Praeger's...it kind of works for them. Not sure I'm into going to White Castle, but a good reminder to keep Dr. P's at home.

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  3. WC veggie sliders; because vegetarian stoners get the munchies, too!

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