[Pigging by Wilfrid: January 26, 2017]
When the headline came to mind, I was thinking of the comparison I recently made between the legendary veggie burger from Superiority Burger, and the popular (meat) sliders served at Mark Burger.
But now it seems clearer that what I really want to do is compare two approaches to the Superiority offering. Naked wins, as it so often does in life.
You'd have to live under a rock, or really not care at all about any food not made from dead critters, to not known that the Superiority Burger burger (burger) was a sensation as soon as Brooks Headley, former Del Posto pastry chef, launched it. The restaurant even got two stars from the Times, despite the austerely edited menu and the evident discomfort of the venue.
It's easier to get near, and into, Superiority Burger than those heady summer days of 2015, even on a Saturday afternoon. Yes, there's a gaggle of people awkwardly awaiting their orders in the tiny space, and good luck getting one of the four (?) seats behind swivel table tops which won't close on you if your waist is 38" and up. Better in some ways to wait for another summer, and carry your bag over to the park.
But let's be honest, the food is indeed excellent. The constantly rotating salad specials turned up a sparkling broccoli, pepper and cashew mélange recently, with a delicious cashew dressing. As for the burger, not needing it to be vegan, I ordered it as it comes: Munster cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle--and although the menu doesn't mention it, plenty of mustard.
I was with a vegan, who is also suspicious of anything squirted from a plastic bottle, and she took it with just the lettuce and tomato. Hers was better.
On a later visit, I consciously repeated the experiment: one burger plain, no sauce, nothing; the other with the works. The patty Headley is using--black bean, lentil, quinoa I believe--is not only suprisingly juicy; it's also very tasty, given a chance. If you want a mouthful of indistinct spice and umami, by all means go the whole hog. But the naked burger gives a better idea of the way Headley has cracked the veggie burger conundrum.
By the way, nobody in their right mind would mistake these for meat patties. They're vegetable patties, beautifully executed. The burger is priced at $6, which looks reasonable, but you'll need two--it's closer to a slider--or a side, if this is more than a snack.
Speaking of sliders, I thought I'd head back to that old standby Mark Burger on St Mark's to remind myself what cows taste like. With a full and convivial bar, this place has been a solid success since it opened in 2009. I've visited many times, often with daughter and others in tow (it's an economic way to fill up children, and leaves you with a better conscience than McD's or Taco Bell).
Cheaper than Superiority Burger, the sliders--which are tad smaller than the SBB--are priced at $2.75. A side of fried at $4.25 easily serves two people. But you know? The thrill had gone. These were little hot packets of beef juice. Maybe I usually ask for no onion, but the onion this time turned the potato rolls to mush. And there I sat, a lifelong carnivore, yearning for black bean, lentil and quinoa.
I guess Brooks proved a point.