Burgers & Catchup: V.V. Burger Battles Rage On

Burgers & Catchup: V.V. Burger Battles Rage On

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It’s been a while, I know. But there are NYC vegan burger happenings that have brought me out of “retirement.”  Here are a few notes on the updated brackets above.

  1. These are entirely new* burgers from my last battle. And there are many more.
  2. Ok, so the “*” is for Brine and Dine, which is the new version of my beloved Pickle Shack. Since this was a clear favorite before their shack closed in Brooklyn, I am automatically advancing Brine & Dine.
  3. The “*” is also for Cinnamon Snail who has entered this battle as a newbie out of the food truck and into the Pennsy.
  4. I have paired Haymaker’s Corner / Vegicano creation: The Possible Burger against the Beyond Burger at P.S. Kitchen in the hopes that it will face the Impossible Burger at Momofuku Nishi in the next round. So exciting! (And a lot of links there.)
  5. I hope to do a Masters tournament next where top-rated from previous battles face winner in a toad style battle with… Toad Style.

Ok, let’s get to a couple of battles…

Burger Village vsBurger Bistro

The Battle of Park Slope

I walk almost the entirety of Park Slope on a daily basis. I work on its South end. And! I don’t want to have to incorporate any additional exercise into my day than a walk in Brooklyn at sunrise and a walk back downtown to catch my train. Though I do catch the bus when it comes along, I do the same thing I do on the bus that I do walking: watch the day wake before me and find my place in it.  It is a bit meditative.  My morning rituals remind me Björk’s Hyperballad minus the car parts, bottles and cutlery thing.  In my dream state, I notice places to eat.  More specifically, places to eat veggie burgers.  I notice Burger Village on 7th Avenue. And I notice Burger Bistro on 5th Avenue on my walk back. Before I tell you about these burgers, a cooling summer slushy spiked with vodka. Does starting a battle half-buzzed hinder or help?  I’ll conclude that it helps.

Burger Village is in Park Slope, Brooklyn… yes.  But for some strange reason it is also in Hicksville… on Long Island… at Broadway Mall. It is also in Great Neck, but who the heck wants to go to the North Shore.  So in this new world of vegan-friendly, eateries are realizing it is not so difficult, it doesn’t alienate omnivores, and it is much appreciated. They have several vegan burger options you can sub into their many topping selections.  Though availability may vary. I ordered the mushroom burger on my visit, thinking of how much I loved the moist, mushroom-based patty of the Pickle Shack. But I was served a black bean burger. No biggie, though. This burger was damn good. 

It has what I need. A good patty that stays together and tastes like something. Traditional fresh fixings. That is half the battle.  The whole grain bun is always a little more dense, so I am not the biggest fan. Overall, a great option that outperforms peer Bare Burger. And also pleasing, how clearly a picture of this beautiful burger does it justice. It was just as good as the picture looked.

Onward to 5th Avenue in Park Slope: Burger Bistro. This eatery is streamlined and efficient, from the food choices, to the ordering process to the service.  You enter and a ding tells the friendly waiter to get you a carafe water and a menu, which you mark up with a wax pencil (remember wax pencils?), that goes to the kitchen, meanwhile server gets you some additional napkins, and pours you a refill on your water, the next ding and your food is ready.  You eat with minimal BS from the server who can read you well (Waiting tables ought to earn you a degree in psychology, just as teaching should.) The check is drop the instant you finish but it is “no rush.”  That is the kind of service I love. Thanks, Burger Bistro.

So the burger, it was good. But it was Dr. Prager-y peas and carrots type.  This is one of my least favorite veggie burger types. Partly because its texture is always so weak and mushy, but also because I like to chew the burger more than the bun. This bun, which might be the same as Burger Village’s, became the dominant force.  I kind of feel that the bun choice is just as important as the patty… but it doesn’t get enough thought often. It can make or break the overall burger eating experience. 

I really appreciated the nice char on the patty.  The cooking process should impart flavor, not just heat. This is often a problem for veggie burgers especially at omni eateries. 

Winner: Burger Village. Burger Village advances and will face off against another Brooklyn burger.

Urban Vegan Kitchen vsMarty’s V Burger

Something happened somewhere and a burger became like $17.  $17 without the good stuff like avocado, which is like $4.  Prices are a bit high at the West Village’s Urban Vegan Kitchen, but they got a tasty burger.  With a roasted mushroom barley patty, fried shallot rings, a housemade special sauce, tomatoes, pickles, romaine, lettuce and a potato bun, you really do have the makings of a burger that can go far in a V.V. burger battle.  Mushroom patty, potato bun, housemade are the pathway to my burger-loving heart.  

It was a yummy bite. But the belly knows what the wallet feels.  I cannot pretend that this has nothing to do with the eating experience.  I am one being: belly, wallet, head, and heart. Wait, wallet?!

Oh Marty. He’s so damn cool. Here’s the thing, I don’t like to tell eateries that I do a vegan eatery blog. I want the experience to be as usual. I don’t want things done differently because there is a post to follow. Though these days everyone shares their meal experiences.  But I like to go under the radar so I can let the food stand alone.  But it is hard to separate the Marty from the Marty’s V Burger. There he is at the counter taking your order, all benevolent and smiley, nice and non-hipstery, non-pretentious. Totally cool in my book. But, er, yeah. We were just strolling by and decided to stop in.

There is something wonderful about a burger… wrapped in paper. It adds to the ritual of eating at a fast food eatery. Except this is all-vegan fast food eatery. This is Marty’s V burger under there. They’ve got a reputation and they can back it.  They’ve captured the perfect no-frills, fast food veggie burger genre.  Good value, delicious, and great service with a side of fries, please. 

A burger that tastes just like you want it to: familiar and like youth. Pickles, special sauce, seeded bun… Why on earth did I not make it a double? For a kid who grew up with Big Macs, this hits all those notes that are hard to describe.  Nostalgia for the win. You can’t beat all that formed your food love. 

Winner: Marty’s V Burger, Marty’s will go on to battle the winner of Peacefood’s lunch burger and Cinnamon Snail.

While I am on the topic of burgers, we passed this food truck that was giving out free Beyond Burger samples. “Free plant-based burger!” Yes please!  We stopped for the last two samples and heard the spiel from a friendly salesperson.  The goal: spreading the word on how sustainable plant-based eating is… how we are running out of resources to feed the world’s population.  This is a cause that lots of folks with lots of money are pushing… because it is an opportunity. To do way more with much less of an impact on the earth.  It’s one of the ways interest in veganism is growing.  I appreciate that, but I do not want a subscription to The Economist.

The Beyond Burger cross section. I look forward to it’s fancy (PS Kitchen) battle with Nix‘s lunch menu burger.