V.V. Burger Showdown: Match 5: Cardinal Veggie Burger Sins​
[Blossom On Carmine vs. Blossom du Jour]

<b>V.V. Burger Showdown:</b> Match 5: Cardinal Veggie Burger Sins​<br>[Blossom On Carmine vs. Blossom du Jour]

Match #5 of the V.V. Burger Showdown: The Blossom battle turns out to be a lesson on how not to do a veggie burger.

Blossom On Carmine vsBlossom du Jour

Despite the proclamations from HappyCow, PeTA,  and VegNews, I often say that New York City is not so vegan-friendly.

Does New York City have a vegan butcher? No. A full-scale vegan cheese shop? No. A vegan chocolate shop? No. Varied vegan options at its baseball parks (save a vegan dog at Citi Field), football arenas and airports? No. Do any of its restaurants have housemade cheese plates? No. A variety of vegan food trucks? There’s just a few and 1 is really from New Jersey. A vegan strip club? Ha, no. Despite other American cities having these special vegan offerings, New York City doesn’t really make the grade. Yes, it’s got some vegan restaurants, but far too many rely on frozen, packaged super-processed meat analogs that are reheated in a New York minute. Or they offer well-intended fare covered with thoughtless sauces and piled-on packaged vegan cheeses. Not to mention that her exorbitant rent has restaurants teaching formulaic recipes to ‘off the books’ line cooks who don’t really understand the nuanced and informed art of plant-based food…

IMG_2119Though it is my mission to discover the exceptions (and I have found many) and though with the arrival of great new vegan eateries, tides may be changing; I certainly can’t sum all of this up as Most Vegan Friendly in the United States. There is a good amount of vegan food in New York City, especially counting vegan-friendly ethnic cuisines. But not a lot of great vegan eats. The truth is that vegan food had always been available in the Big Apple… and that’s great… but it hasn’t really evolved much. Ah NYC, let my criticism will be a mark of your potential. All of this is underlies this next Burger Showdown: a battle between the affiliated Blossoms’ burger options, and their shortcomings.

The Blossom restaurant group started in 2005 in with a restaurant in Chelsea. TheyIMG_2102 branched out including a bakery (also in Chelsea), two more restaurant locations (One on Upper West Side & another in the West Village), as well as two quick service counter spots (Blossom Du Jour in Chelsea & Midtown West). That’s a lotta blossoms! But though each location is all-vegan, it’s pretty average fare. Stuff I
enjoyed more years ago but now can make better on my own. But their veggie burgers rank high on “Best of NYC” lists, so I faced two of them off in a head to head battle. Having a fond memory of their Skyscraper burger from  Blossom Du Jour when it was further west in Chelsea, next to the now defunct Cocoa V which turned into the Blossom Bakery, and wanting to hit up a new location with a touted burger, I named Blossom on Carmine as the competitor.

Blossom On Carmine’s Soy Bacon Cheeseburger:

Sometimes a vegan eatery thinks they need to overcompensate. Don’t eat regular pizza? Well, how about a slice of thin crust with a wet pile of every vegetable ever birthed by the Earth?! No. Implied in this overcompensation is the idea that plants aren’t enough. Well, they certainly are, but when respected. Their use should be thoughtful. And quantity is certainly not quality. All of this applies to Blossom on Carmine’s Soy Bacon Cheeseburger.

Deconstructing the cardinal sins of veggie burgers, I’ll start with the “Soy” of the Soy Bacon Cheeseburger. I remember high school cafeteria hamburgers. I remember McDonald’s burgers. Cheap burgers were packed with soy before “soy burgers” existed. And I remember their fibrous bites very well. The soy patty (or what I refer to as soy science meat, also called soy protein, soy protein isolate, and other such names [Brand names: Gardein, Beyond Meat, May Wah, etc]) is vegan, but it’s a processed food, bought in bulk and frozen–just like fast food. Except at Blossom on Carmine’s it’s $14.  The frozen, soy patty is lazy. Restaurants, especially those claiming to be fine dining, should not hold fast food values, using frozen and processed, packaged food products. Is that a crazy notion–that a restaurant care about food, know about food, create food? Maybe I’m an idealist.

Moving on to the “Bacon” in the Soy Bacon Cheeseburger. Another packaged/processed addition. Moving on to the “Cheese” in the Soy Bacon Cheeseburger. You guessed it: packaged again. But besides all this, let’s talk about piles. The Daiya and soy science meat was one thing. I understand that these things are ubiquitous. New vegetarians love that crap. They’ll learn, especially with By Chloe (who’s getting a second location), Pickle Shack, Superiority Burger around and a Modern Love coming to Brooklyn. But piles of wet, flavorless vegetables just don’t cut it. I was not able to even pick up the Soy Bacon Cheeseburger. It was loaded with a careless pile of bland, cooked mushrooms. They added no flavor, no texture–just weight and moisture. It wasn’t a decadent burger–I’ve had those and relished in their mess of deliciousness; this was just a sloppy mess. Holding its wet mass was kinda not worth taking a bite…. because it tasted like nothing. And, again, it was $14.

Am I obligated to skew a review to support a vegan business? Ethically: sometimes. Less so when we’re looking at 6 New York City locations and 3 packaged processed food in one burger. Someone’s got to be the heavy.


Blossom du Jour’s Skyscraper:
IMG_2107As suspected, The patty was the same at the cheaper Blossom counter spot, Blossom Du Jour, but there was something a bit more enjoyable about it. After a few bites, I realized it was the pickle/special sauce combination. That’s all it took. It’s amazing what a burst of brine can do to wake things up. Taste! The rest of the elements suffered from the same as the more expensive burger above–the patty, “bacon” and “cheese.” In summary, and for the service of all vegan burger purveyors out there) the first three cardinal sins of vegan burgers: 


PicMonkey Collage

And there is no winner of match #5. We have a draw!

This means that the winner of Cafe Ghia & Cinnamon Snail‘s showdown automatically advances to the next round. Yes, all-vegan food truck Cinnamon Snail has been added to the Burger Brackets, replacing V-Spot. (V-Spot doesn’t actually have a burger on their menu. Der.) I’m also looking forward to a high brow Upper East Side showdown between Candle Cafe and V-Note, both with (phew) housemade patties. (I will be omitting the “cheese” on V-Note’s Seitan Quarter Pounder.)
Burger Battle_Battle5

For research design, click here.

And my trip to the West Village included a stop at Molly’s Cupcakes, a cupcake chain with standard vanilla/chocolate vegan cake/frosting options. I should have tried their chocolate cake since I tried this flavor combination already. But it’s my favorite. And they do it nostalgically well. The chocolate frosting, though visually poop-like (no filter tonight), it reminds me of the pleasantly grainy frosting from Isa that uses soy milk powder, which tastes like Duncan Hines. {I feel like I am describing this with Victoria Jackson’s voice as she tells Sheriff Harry Truman where she is transferring the phone call.}IMG_2123