The vegetarian edition: By Chloe vs. Shake Shack
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
T&V is on a quest to find the best hamburger in the neighborhood but for this installment, we wanted to check out the options available to vegetarians. Any self-respecting meat lover knows that vegetarian alternatives often pale in comparison to the real thing, but sometimes if the healthier option doesn’t try too hard in its imitation, the result can be moderately satisfying. We tried two meat-free offerings at local lunch spots this week.
By Chloe, Guac Burger ($10)
Anyone looking for a sandwich with the texture, consistency and taste of a juicy beef burger, be warned: this is not it. But the black beans make the sandwich a filling meal, even without a side of fries, and the spices blend together well for a tasty lunch. By Chloe specializes in vegan fare and this sandwich is no exception. The whole wheat bun that comes standard with the guac burger can be swapped out for a gluten free bun for an additional $2.50.
The burger itself is made of black beans and sweet potato and it’s topped with a corn salsa, tortilla strips, avocado, tomato and red onion.
The chipotle aioli has a nice kick that is tampered down a bit by the cooling avocado. The veggies in the burger all tasted fresh and the corn in the salsa also offered a nice balance to the spiciness of the sauce, with a sweetness and a bit of crunch.
Although not an overly soggy sandwich, the moisture from the tomato caused the tortilla chips to lose their crunch. Fortunately, the corn and slice of red onion helped give the sandwich a bit of extra texture.
Another slight downside is the bun, which is almost too bready and somewhat overwhelms the burger. Overall, though, the sandwich is surprisingly filling and it’s a tasty choice from the new neighborhood restaurant.
Shake Shack, ‘Shroom Burger ($7)
While vegetarian options are usually considered the healthy alternative, that isn’t always the case. Shake Shack’s ‘shroom burger is 100 percent meat-free, but it isn’t necessarily the most healthy lunch option. The sandwich is a fried portobello mushroom filled with both cheddar and muenster cheeses, and the calorie count at 490 is higher than a plain burger, which clocks in at 385.
The sandwich is closer to the popular Czech street food smažený sýr (literally translated as “fried cheese”) than it is to a hamburger but the crunch of the fried outer breading and the oozing of the cheese complement each other nicely. The softness of the potato bun also balances out the texture of the fried patty nicely.
Liking mushrooms are not an absolute requirement to enjoy this burger but it probably helps, because while the taste of the vegetable is almost completely obscured by the cheese, the somewhat slippery texture of the flat-topped mushroom is unique and may take getting used to for some.
While not the usual meal choice from an old New York classic, the veggie offering is a good option for any (very lactose tolerant) luncher getting bored with the old Shack burger standby.