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The Art of the Veggie Burger

February 21, 2009

Veggie burgers are not burgers.

Never fear, vegetarians/vegans/pescetarians understand that the veggie burger does not taste like, look like, or feel like a burger. Please, refrain from asking us questions about beef burgers and how they taste better. To me: they are apples and oranges, when the orange is really a cow.
I used to not order veggie burgers on menus. For a long time, they carried the same status a salmon, a food with great potential, but largely ignored. I refuse to pay for a reheated Morningstar Farms patty, especially since a package of four sits permanently in my freezer. Restaurants create two types of veggie burgers: a plate designed to include vegetarians on a menu, or the the dish, which I prefer, created of yummy goodness. In the past year, various casual eateries began experimenting with the patties, so I began taste testing, which is not a new hobby. I spent the last 15 years testing out crab cakes, and still have not found the perfect combination of crab, mayo and Old Bay. I even tried to make my own, which ended up looking like a shedding blob and sadly fell into pieces, quickly followed by the chef.
The two places I presently recommend are Bourbon and Science Club. Bourbon, an eatery in Adams Morgan and Glover Park with a bourbon menu which rivals many wine lists, is known for its tater tots, baked beans, and burgers. At a place like Bourbon, a veggie burger should be an after thought. Instead, the varied mixture of vegetables, BBQ sauce, and cheese make the patty well-worth slowly enjoying. My only complaint is that the burger is so fresh, it has the tendency to collapse on you. Secretly, I get pleasure from this disintegration because it means I can eat the veggies intermixed with my tots. The Science Club, a funky bar near Dupont Circle which serves only vegetarian snacks, veggie burger holds together better, but is served with classic ketchup. Be sure you get yours with the fries.
However, I am still looking for a home-made veggie burger I am brave enough to try. If I find a good recipe, I will be sure to post one. But, assuming it is similar to making crab cakes, I am terrified.
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