V.V. Burger Showdown: Match 4: Battle of Smorgasburg
[Chickpea & Olive vs. NÜBurger]
Match #4 of the V.V. Burger Showdown brings us to Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s food flea market:
Since 2008, Smorgasburg has allowed a slew of new and exciting food vendors to make a name for themselves. And several are either all-vegan or offer vegan options, including Chickpea & Olive and NÜBurger, the competitors in Match #4: The Battle of Smorgasburg. The location of this match allows for an even playing field, as ambiance of the bustling, annoying-people-filled (much worse than simply “people-filled”) Smorgasburg would be an unfair disadvantage for these burger spots if pinned against a brick and mortar.
Chickpea & Olive is an all-vegan pop-up with a small menu of big, big flavor including yummy housemade sauces and a superstar beet-based patty. Though the dreaded d-word is still on their menu, I am confident they’ll concoct a far better vegan cheese creation to complement their scratch-made comfort foods.
Another vegan burger option at Smorgasburg is NÜBurger. TimeOut NY included NÜBurger’s burger in its list of best veggie burgers in New York City, along with V.V. Burger Showdown bracket eateries like By Chloe, Superiority Burger, and Blossom. Apparently the gluten-free patty “ticks nearly every box on the veggievore checklist.” (I’m curious what TimeOut NY thinks is on this veggievore checklist, btw.) I have never tried it. But now I would, pinning it head-to-head with Chickpea & Olive’s Bacon (no-Daiya cheese) Phatty Beet Burger.
Chickpea & Olives’s Bacon Phatty Beet Burger:
Chickpea & Olive’s Bacon Phatty Beet Burger has that ooze factor that I love in a vegan burger. Having spent many years as a vegan with dry, brick-like veggie patties on equally dry buns, I can’t get enough of that succulent ooze. And the ooze is flavor-packed. The beet burger is moist, but not too moist. It is hearty and satisfying as well as being a vehicle for great looking and tasting sauces. The eggplant bacon was really just eggplant though. I didn’t taste much of that hickory smoke and I wished it was a bit charred, crisp, and flavor-packed (like this eggplant bacon!) The burger would have benefitted with a crisp variance of texture. That being said, it was delicious to the last bite. My non-vegan pal also agreed. And by lord, wouldn’t you know, the phatty beet burger had a soft and supple potato bun. I see a trend here.
When we got to the Smorgasburg, we walked by NÜBurger first. But, at a little past 11 am, it didn’t look like they were ready to go. There was nothing on the tables–no food evidence at all: no sample to gaze upon, no menu posted, no station for dressing and fixing, nothing. So we went to Chickpea & Olive first. Then, when we returned to NÜBurger, it looked exactly the same! Lesson one: we eat with our eyes first… a sample plate, a posted menu with a description of the patty contents. Those things are important. We ordered the NÜBurger and waited a minute or two. The patty was reheated in some sort of non-grill contraption, badda badda bing, the burger was in a sleeve and in my hand. So this is all I know: the patty is gluten-free, which serves a need; the gluten-free bun was created by snarky East Village gluten-free bakery Jennifer’s Way; the patty is organic (organic what? I don’t know. More on that in a second.) so of course it is also GMO-free, and it’s vegan. It had a sweet-and-spicy pomegranate-cayenne mayo spread on the bun. This sounds good, but I couldn’t taste it. And the same for the patty. It had a dense texture, but I couldn’t discern flavors from its mass. I learned from the TimeOut NY list that the patty contained white beans and potatoes. Well, there you go! With a patty like that you really need to add a lot flavor. NÜBurger is a great base. And I am ready for some more flavor.
And the clear winner of match #4 is: Chickpea & Olive.
So they advance to the next round to face off against Manhattan’s By Chloe! But there is a lot more action in this first round. Next up, the Blossom showdown. Which of Blossom’s burgers will get to the next round? Find out next time!
For research design, click here.