Saturday, April 4, 2009


A dude’s tireless search for the perfect veggie burger. Indy’s got nothin’ on me!


So it was Vegin’ Out’s annual holiday dinner, (yeah I wrote this one a while ago) and this year we ate at Real Food Daily – a 100% vegan restaurant in Santa Monica. After we all destroyed a plate of their fairly awesome cashew cheese nachos, they brought out our entrees. I, naturally, ordered the basic RFD Burger…which, upon service, I immediately regretted, when Dan was served his RFD Burger with The Works. It’s essentially the burger I ordered, topped with avocado, tempeh bacon, and smothered in cashew cheese. Not sure what I was thinking when I passed that up (especially since the company was picking up the tab), although it did look rather unwieldy to consume. I later decided that, if my mission was to evaluate the burger patty itself, abundant toppings would simply mask the truth…and the truth did need some masking.

The RFD Burger is self described as a “tempeh vegetable patty”, however I saw no vegetables or tempeh. I’m sure it was all in there, but everything was processed so finely that there was nothing recognizable. It seemed that there was wheat gluten flour used as a binder to hold it all together, and while wheat gluten can give something a meat-ish texture, it certainly was a large part of the makeup of the patty. This made the patty more soft and squishy than I would like..sort of like my belly, and my ass, and my arms, chest, etc.

The choice I’m constantly faced with when developing burger recipes is: To Wheat Gluten or Not To Wheat Gluten. I still don’t know the answer. I’d prefer not to use it, but sometimes it seems necessary…I don’t know…I’m not prepared to answer this now…o.k. let’s continue…

While the soft, squishiness is somewhat meat-like, it was a little overboard…I don’t even know if having something resemble meat is what I really want, or should be striving for in my own creations. I think a veggie burger, should be just that: a burger of veggies. I want to see them, and bite into chunks of them, and taste them. I don’t want a pulverized mash of stuff that wants to taste and feel like a ground up dead cow.

Speaking of taste, the patty itself had very little. It’s kind of just “eh” when topped with lettuce, tomato and grilled onions, but I’m sure it’s much better with The Works. When I started dissecting it (like a chubby mad scientist), and tasting the patty itself, there was no flavor to speak of. Very disappointing for a restaurant with a lot of winners on the menu.

The (not so) Skinny:

Bun: Nice rustic Roll

Toppings: The works (avocado, tempeh bacon, cashew cheese) looked like the way to go.

Texture: Squishy, and meat-like, heavy on the wheat gluten flour, and couldn’t see or taste any veggies.

Flava’: A Joke (like 9-1-1 in yo’ town).

The good stuff: Clearly freshly made on the premises, and packed with healthy protein. Sizeable portion, it’ll fill you up for sure. Get it with the works.

The ‘eh’ Stuff: Contains wheat gluten, way too much, from my estimation. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get one, there are much better things on their menu.

So there you have it! The first of many thorough veggie burger reviews. Much more on the way!


  1. Hey TSV,
    I have the same issue with gluten .. a little too squishy. I've been experimenting firming things up by replacing a portion of the gluten with ground up oats. So far - so tasty.

    Stay Sexy!

  2. You know, every time I make a new veggie burger recipe, I mean to put oats in it...and every time I forget. I'll try it for sure next time. Thanks Caela!

  3. I found ya' on Eat, Drink or Die tonight and after seeing the first video, I had to watch all of them. You are f'n hilarious! Plus you can play a guitar and cook like nobody's business. You are pretty awesome and I just had to share. Rarr baby! ha ha

  4. Wow! Thanks Dracenea! "Rarr" right back at ya'!