Welcome to the 2011 VegLympics in Los Angeles, Veggie Burger Competition!
There are a lot of entrants in the challenge to find the city’s best veggie (read: vegan) burger. Several contestants have already been disqualified:
-Upper West, for illegal cheese use in patty
-Fatburger, for illegal use of non-vegan Boca burger patties
I will be using the ISU Judging System, that’s the International Skating Union scoring system, minus the 8 other judges and a comprehensive understanding of how it works. Apparently, I have to give a score on a scale of .25 to 10 in each of the following categories:
-Skating Skills (SS)
-Transitions/linking footwork and movement (TR)
First up is Hole In The Wall Burger Joint, an apropos name, hidden behind a Winchell’s donuts on Bentley Avenue just south of Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA. I was super excited to find out they had a veggie burger and ecstatic that it was vegan. There’s a handy order form you fill out, creating a burger the way you want it, from bun to bun (or bowl). Here’s their score:
SS = 8.0
I got the House Recipe Veggie Burger with red leaf lettuce, sliced red onion, tomato, mustard-pickle relish and ketchup on a old fashioned plain bun with both kinds of fries (regular and sweet potato). The quality of the ingredients is perfect, the thing is a behemoth, but the patty falls apart.
TR = 9.0
The options are standard but plenty, with regular ketchup, “theirs”, or homemade, “ours”, and a mustard-pickle relish that, while I don’t love, I appreciate. I prefer a more half-sour pickled taste to complement my burger, and this relish lands on the sweet side. The fries are great, both kinds.
PE = 8.5
There are two kinds of veggie burgers: those which try to replicate the taste of actual meat (Meatless Technologies) and those that try to blend vegetables into something patty-like (Garden Patch). This is the latter, and the chef has created a mix of fresh veggies (corn, onion, peppers), black beans with a vegan bread base that makes a most delicious burger. No matter how you get it, it’s a beautiful show. Again, my only complaint is that the bread base isn’t a great binder. Though I’d rather have it fall apart and be vegan than have egg and adhere, I shouldn’t have to choose. Actually, once the burger sheds it leaves enough behind to make it regular sized.
CH = 9
I’ve never had a burger quite like this. Conceptually, it is an original take on a veggie patty and it’s got a unique taste. In terms of vision, you need a wide-angle lens in order to see the whole thing at once, it’s so big. It is composed of the best elements: they use artisan rolls made by local bakery, the produce is fresh and locally grown, all the spreads, pickles, ketchup and fries are made in-house. And it only costs $7.95 (cash only).
IN = 8.5
Points taken off here only for one seasoning in there I didnt care for– is it cinnamon? Something that doesn’t say “Burger” to me. If this burger was a figure skating routine, it’d be that Elvis guy skating to some Das Racist.
T = 10
Everything is made to order, but it only takes ten minutes. The food is hot when you get it and there is no soundtrack. This is fast-casual at it’s best.
Total Score = 53 (out of a possible 60).
Now I kinda want to get take-out and watch The Cutting Edge.