Tag Archives: burger

Restaurant Review: Blackwater Bar [Portland]

Today we ventured down Broadway in Portland, looking for a spot for some lunch goodness.  The only problem?  I wanted something new.  I remembered hearing about Blackwater Bar in Portland, an all-vegan bar.

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Blackwater is a punk-rock themed bar, that teeters on the edge of dive status for me.  Once you walk in, the space is on the dark side (not sure if deliberate for the punk theme) and has a good mix of booths and chairs with tables.  The place is pretty good size, with a full sized stage for live music shows, a bar in the back, a couple of pinball machines, and ample seating.

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Today a screen was showing Discovery Channel documentaries so we all watched lions take down Giraffes and other nature shows.  We rooted for the giraffes.

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Once we sat down we were really excited about the menu.

It was all what I call traditional bar food. Which is probably higher on the unhealthy scale, and also higher on the good taste scale.

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We saw items like Mozzarella bites, burgers, chili cheese fries, pretzels, nachos and wings.  There were salads but they were at the bottom, and clearly not the prime focus of the place.

The service was really friendly and punctual.  I ordered an IPA on tap (from Breakside), and Kristin wanted a greyhound.

I decided on the traditional burger which included a house made patty (I heard great things about their burgers), Chao cheese, burger sauce, lettuce, and tomato.  I also ordered some mozzarella bites to try.  These also featured a house made mozzarella.

Kristin ended up with the Western Burger which included BBQ sauce, the same patty, burger sauce, fried onions, tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickles.

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The mozz bites came out first and looked really good. They came with a small cup of marinara sauce.  I was really excited to try these as I have a lot of respect for a place that makes their own vegan mozzarella.  However I think fans of the cheesy sticks may feel a little bummed about these.  The cheese was a little “gritty” and lacked substance in my opinion.  They fell apart in the marinara.  I do think though they are on the right track and will perfect these little fried balls soon.

The burgers soon followed.

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Mine was a perfect specimen of a vegan pub burger. The house made patty was amazing and it had a little crunch on the outside which was great.  They seemed to have also cracked the code on how to get Chao to melt onto a patty.  The burger sauce lent a great flavor to the burger also.

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The Western was beautiful as well.   The patty was basted in BBQ sauce and had a ton of flavor.  The fries were crispy and some of the best I have had from a vegan joint.

In the end, our food was really good.  We weren’t able to finish our meals and most of them came home.

Minors are also allowed in the bar but not past the clearly marked zones near the actual bar.

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While Blackwater Bar is not a place you’ll be taking Grandma (unless she is a punk rocker), we will definitely be going back and spending more time there!

835 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW: 49TH STATE BREWING [ANCHORAGE]

Traveling to Alaska as a vegan can be pretty daunting.  There is hope though, in the sparsely populated vegan options on menus at places like Bear’s Tooth, Middleway Cafe and others.  But you can also get sick of them pretty quickly.

So I decided to join some friends recently on a downtown crawl.

We started the night at 49th State Brewing Company.

The brewery is located in the old Snow Goose space, and they have done an amazing job with the design.  I would have taken more photos, but it was Iditarod weekend and the place was absolutely PACKED.  To the gills.  So apologies for that (you can find some photos on their website).

Continue reading RESTAURANT REVIEW: 49TH STATE BREWING [ANCHORAGE]

Restaurant Review: VeganBurg [San Francisco]

When I used to travel to Singapore, I always made sure to stop at VeganBurg – a country-wide vegan burger joint that prided itself on healthy vegan options.

So when I heard their first (and only) US location was in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, I knew I needed to go.

While the menu options seemed  little lighter than I remember, the space itself was really nice, clean, and bright.  I ordered the “Cracked Mayo” burger with seaweed fries (not as hippy as they sound, I promise), and Kristin ordered the Smoked Franks with a side of fries. Landen went with the standard – Chicken Tenders.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: VeganBurg [San Francisco]

Restaurant Review: Next Level Burger [Bend]

UPDATED 9/14/15!  We returned to NLB for an amazing breakfast!  See the new content below!

When it comes to vegan fast food, us vegans miss out on three key elements of the fast food culture:

1. We don’t camp out weeks in advance of an opening.  And, while I would never be one of the schmucks in a $20 Coleman tent sleeping on a sidewalk outside some vegan Chick-Fil-A, the concept of it is appealing.  I mean, how committed do you need to be to artery-clogging, fat soaked food to actually sleep outside for a week?  That is true, foodie commitment.

Camping in the winter for a week. For fried chicken.

2.  We can’t just have a greasy, bad-for-you burger experience.  Most vegan burgers I have seen are typically some malted oregano-kale infused, carrot fiber burger, promising all kinds of health claims. Sometimes, I just want to eat something bad for me too.

3. We don’t have a vegan fast food mecca that beckons us to make multi-mile journeys off major interstates.   We need a vegan In-and-Out kinda place.

So when I heard there was a new vegan burger joint in Bend, I had a chance to do a little of all three.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Next Level Burger [Bend]

Product Review: Beyond Meat’s BEAST BURGER

I have been waiting for the Beast Burger from Beyond Meat for a VERY LONG time.  Ever since my friend over there told me it was in “the works” I wanted to try it out.

As a vegan, veggie burgers are crucial.  First, they give me a staple I can relate to from my meat days.  I know to some this may sound stupid, but that’s just how this vegan rolls.  On a nice summer day, I still like tossing something on the grill other than corn and asparagus.  Or, in the winter I may crave a bacon double cheeseburger.

Beast Burger with crispy onions, pickles, and BBQ.

There are a lot of contenders in this space too.  Companies like Gardein, Field Roast, and now Beyond Meat all produce decent burgers (in addition to the Boca and other large brands).  But it seems like each one trades off something.

Gardein’s burgers are good, but plain and oily.  Field Roast’s Hand formed burgers require you to refinance your home mortgage ($7.99 for 4 small patties) and companies like Morningstar add egg whites so they are not even vegan.

All of this meant I was really stoked to finally get my paws on a brand new burger.

Awesome packaging and branding.

As always, the retail packaging was designed well and the price was good.  Two 1/4 pound patties (frozen) per $6.49 box means a premium, all vegan, non-GMO burger patty for $3 and change.

I tossed them on the grill along with some asparagus.  I decided to pair them with some vegan bacon strips from Sweet Earth and Chao regular cheese slices.

Lunch. FTW.

These burgers grill up really nicely over a well seasoned propane grill.  I applied a little spray olive oil to each side (per the instructions) to help them out a little.

Watch them grill:

Beasts on the grill.

I heated them up really well, melted some Chao cheese on ’em, dropped the bacon on and had a GREAT lunch.

My first impression was yes.  Yes to a good-tasting,  hearty as heck, well made vegan burger.  The flavor was right in the middle of the “not so meaty but still meaty enough” scale that companies like Beyond Meat must navigate carefully.

While the taste is what really excited me, it were the nutritional claims that made me look twice.  Beyond Meat claims that the Beast Burger:

  • Has more protein and iron than beef;
  • Has more omega fatty acids than salmon;
  • Is GMO free;
  • Features a “beyond nutrient blend” which apparently makes me healthier.
The claims are right on the box.

All of this poses a question I will ask myself rhetorically,

“If I can eat more protein and iron, more omegas, less cholesterol (as in zero), less fat, and less cancer-causing meat stuff, while enjoying a great texture and flavor why wouldn’t I?”

The ingredient list, while long, is all natural, basic ingredients.  I see things like pea protein, canola oil, beet juice powder, onion powder, paprika, etc.

A long ingredient list and pretty decent nutritional specs.

I mean when you look at the actual nutrient benefits of these burgers, combined with the taste and texture, relatively low cost, no worry of food-borne pathogens, ease of cooking, and a multitude of other benefits….shouldn’t’ we?

Some Chao melti-ness on my beasts.

At least one thing is for sure.  My freezer will be full of these things, and I look forward to dragging some with me to Moab and the Rubicon later this Summer.