V.V. Burger Showdown: Match 7: The Battle of (vegan) Growing Pains
[Tiny’s vs. BareBurger]
Match #7 of the V.V. Burger Showdown: The Battle of (vegan) Growing Pains.
Along with the large scale collective growth in vegan food products and eateries, omni embrace of “vegan” is also evolving in its own way. Vegan pantry staples are showing up in traditional supermarkets and a consideration for vegans is finding its way to menus at omni eateries: clearly labeled vegan options! If you were to ask me 20 years ago, as I memorized long lists of animal derived ingredients and poured over likely-outdated xeroxed pamphlets from animal rights organizations in a pre-Internet world, if it would ever be this easy to be vegan, I’d tell you no. Though “easy” isn’t always part of my value set, I am pleased it’s easier to be vegan. With these positive turns are growing pains.
The path to varied and widespread vegan options are paved with well-intended omni eateries. They are understanding vegan as the abstinence of animal derivatives. They are learning that the bun and the sauces also need consideration. Their openness in their offerings is well appreciated. And now, their familiarity with vegan substitutions are also beginning to grow. Take Bareburger and Tiny’s Giant Sandwich shop. Each are open to omissions and additions that create a more than satisfying vegan burger. So in this battle, I’m going to let them square off head-to-head. And in going to call it vegan “growing pains” because I’d like to finally acknowledge Kirk Cameron as a cute kid, a tombed notion from my tween youth for, at the time, I preferred Vince Neil in Metal Edge to 16 Magazine.
Tiny’s Big Mack Daddy, no special sauce, no cheddar, no brioche bun:
Why did I include Tiny’s? With almost an entire set of sparkling new burger ops for the next burger showdown already set (for reals), why did I choose a spot that offers no regular vegan menu items? Why did I choose an option that needs so much modification to be vegan? For one, Tiny’s is highlighted from my previous burger research. Out of 30 burger options around New York City, they held up in my mind. As an ode and a mark of faith in my past reporting, Tiny’s made the list. And with good reason. Tiny’s does the basic well. For one, the fixins–ketchup and mustard, as well as crunchy pickles and tomato–are half the battle. Even without a patty, I’d enjoy that… Partially because that reminds me of my old days of vegan (lettuce and tomato sandwiches!) And also because there is the most room for error in the patty. So I’ll move on to the patty. There is something grey and steamy that is familiar about the patty, how it chews, along with those fixins, feels kind of like a bad habit, a loosy cigarette after a few drinks at the bar… a plate of French fries with corn syrup-y ketchup… a pint of vegetable fried rice with duck sauce. The things you used to love before you knew better. You never stop loving those things; your love simply evolves, morphing into nostalgia, and is labeled and archived in the appropriate shelf in your head. But you open it now and again, because you’re a complex being.
Bareburger’s Build Your Own (Farmers Quinoa patty, Sprout bun, with chickpea onions and spinach):
You can make a custom vegan burger with ease at Bareburger. Sauces, buns, and veggie fixings can be mixed and matched with 3 different vegan patties. I chose the Farmers Quinoa patty, but they also offer a sweet potato & brown rice patty and a black bean burger patty. The highlight of the custom burger I created was certainly the “chickpea onions.” I was so curious about what this was as it is not really described on the menu. To my delight, it was onions dipped in chickpea flour and deep-fried. To my delight, it was crisp and delicious, like a onion ring, and it also was proportionately large compared to every other component. So it was the highlight. The patty was soft and almost creamy, succumbing to the magic onion. The bright green spinach presented well but also was overtaken by the onion. The sprouted bun was not dry and health food-tasting. Overall, my Bareburger was a great burger option. And I can go back and try different combinations with ease. This is vegan ops, evolved. [This burger was had at Bareburger’s Rockville Centre location on Long Island.]
The winner of the vegan-op battle: Bareburger!
Can the Bareburger chain stand up to the almighty Pickle Shack? I think I already know, but I’ll surely have another burger at each spot to let them fight it out. Up next, the last of the first round match-ups! Food truck Cinnamon Snail‘s kitchen sink-style burger faces off with Cafe Ghia‘s weekday brunch burger option.
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