Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Doghouse Tavern: Langley, WA

Another retroactive review of a burger that is in the running for the title of World's Best. Located on scenic Whidbey Island, a half-hour's drive and a 15-minute ferry ride north of Seattle, in this bar is found what has so far been my best veggie burger on the West Coast. It is a savory patty made with hazelnuts. Hazelnuts make everything taste better, yet they are almost completely overlooked in veggie patty form. The burger comes with blue cheese dressing, and when I asked for them to hold it, the waitress asked if I would like baked beans instead. While I admire her effort at customer satisfaction, the beans had little chunks of meat in them. This was not enough to detract from the overall experience though.

Burger King: everywhere

Burger King is, to my knowledge, the only fast-food chain that serves up a veggie burger, and it's actually not all that bad, considering. The bun is standard BK, the lettuce is wilted, the tomato is pink, and they will probably give you mayo even if you ask to hold it, but the combination is exactly what you expect when you're on the road: fast, cheap, mediocre. Not exactly good, but not all that bad either, and secretly you really enjoy it; no one goes to Burger King for quality eats, and if you've got the munchies and need to pull off the road for a quick meal, it's a lot better than the side-salad at McDonald's or the Wendy's baked potato.

The Publick House: Brookline, MA

I used to live in Brookline, MA. It's a "suburb" of Boston that pretty much is Boston only it's technically a different city and county. If you hop on the Green line of the T you will leave Boston and go through Brookline, then suddenly you're back in Boston, and then you're back in Brookline again without ever really noticing. There are three things redeeming about Brookline, Boston, and the greater Boston area: when the Red Sox/Patriots/Celtics lose, the "now leaving Boston" sign, and the veggie burger at the Publick House.

I am a fan of the Publick House in general; they offer a wide variety of artisan beers, with nary a PBR in sight. Even ordering a brew as mainstream as a Sierra Nevada is a huge faux pas. To accompany their extensive beer collection, they offer an equally delicious menu. It is therefore no surprise that their veggie burger is cream of the crop, so good that I am writing this almost a year after its consumption. It is a savory, homemade patty of vegetables and grains, with the bold inclusion of peas. I had never before seen a veggie patty made with peas, and it blew my mind. This was the burger that started it all, the one that made me think, "have I found the world's best veggie burger?"

Garden Burger: Flame Grilled Burgers

Ok, Garden Burger has redeemed itself. These burgers are nothing special, but they are good enough. They have a meaty texture and flavor similar to Boca Burger, though are firmer and juicier. Like Boca Burger, they have little grill marks so that you can pretend your microwave is really a barbeque while you are pretending you are eating a real burger instead of a disk of processed soy. I imagine these would be good starter burgers for a new vegetarian who is still craving meat, though someone with a more developed vegetable palatte will find them lacking.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Southlake Grill: Seattle, WA

The Southlake Grill's offering almost succeeds, but fails when it comes to the most essential element: the actual burger. They top garlicky grilled foccocia with avocado, tomato, lettuce, aioli... and a garden burger. With so much care put into the rest of the sandwich, the use of commercial patty is a disappointment, and a garden burger at that: the blandest of the bland. With a limited selection of vegetarian options on the menu, this is the best offering. It is tolerable, but not something I would go out of my way to eat again.


Amy's veggie patties are the best frozen veggie patties I have tried. Amy's food in general celebrates vegetarianism, and these are no exception. They are made from textured soy protein, grains, vegetables, and nuts, with each flavor blending together for a superb taste sensation without being overly processed: each ingredient is still distinguishable. They have a chewy texture complimented by a slightly nutty taste. The Texas Burger is my favorite, with hints of barbecue sauce, though the All-American burger is equally good. The Quarter Pound burger is a heftier version of the All-American, for the larger appetite. They are good enough to stand on their own for a quick snack. The one drawback is the price; they are generally more expensive that other frozen offerings, but shell out that extra dollar.

Boca Burger

Boca Burgers have a meaty texture, and a meaty taste. They are also low cal (but small) and most varieties are vegan. The company offers a few different flavors, such as onion and garlic that all taste pretty much alike. Boca Burgers are best on a bun, smothered in condiments, but serve well chopped up in dishes as ground beef substitutes.

Morning Star Farms

Morning Star Farms offers an eclectic array of patties, ranging from Asian vegetable to Tomato and Basil Pizza to the classic veggie burger. They cook up crispy and delicious, and unlike some competitors, the flavors taste distinctively different. They are a tad oily, but nothing that blotting with a paper towel can't solve. Most contain egg and dairy, but if that isn't an issue give them a shot! Pick a variety that sounds good and go from there.

Garden Burger: Garden Vegan

The GardenVegan was on sale, so I picked up a couple of boxes. Warning: if you are not a vegetarian, do not eat these, especially if this is your first exposure to a veggie patty. You will believe the hype that all veggie patties are pale, flavorless, mushy circles of tastelessness. If you are a vegetarian, do not eat these. You will be offended by their blandness. The taste is underpoweringly dominated by grain, with hints of mushroom but little else; they are lacking even the most basic seasoning, like salt. The texture is that of loosely held-together rice. Garden Burger offers other varieties of veggie burger, and I have had great experiences with some of their other products, so I am willing to give them a shot, but I stand firm on my opinion of the GardenVegan.