A rich and satisfying vegan burger from Veggie Table
Once upon a time, veganism was confined to militant animal rights activists and members of strict religious orders, its proponents presumed by the carnivorous population to be hemp-wearing hippies who’d taken a vow of incomprehensible abstinence. Declarations of veganism were met with a bewildered gaze and, inevitably, the question, ‘so what do you actually eat?!’
But those days are long gone, thanks in no small part to the rise of eateries like Veggie Table, whose colourful, delicious vegan dishes render the question redundant. “We believe that good food shouldn’t have to be given a label: meat, vegan, vegetarian—if it tastes great, it shouldn’t matter,” says Anna, co-founder of the stall.
When it came to trying the classic v burger, as committed omnivores, we were still skeptical. While we’re all for meat-free food, when it comes to burgers, the meat part is high on the list of important attributes: or at least we thought it was, until we dug in.
A delicious combination of mushrooms, barley, parsley, miso, onions and spices, it’s satisfyingly firm and rich in flavour. “We take all of the raw ingredients, chop them up, put them together and add seitan, which is organic wheat gluten flour,” Anna continues.
Soft and moist
“Then we portion it up and bake it, which binds everything together—it steam-cooks it, basically, which gets rid of a lot of the moisture. You’re left with this amazing burger which is lovely and chewy on the outside, yet beautifully soft and moist on the inside.”
The Veggie Table steers clear of meat substitutes—the soggy, dodgy counterparts that have given store-bought veggie burgers a bad name—nonetheless, “the experience is very similar to that of eating a gourmet burger,” she continues. “We are not, however, trying to replicate the flavour of meat or cheese—it’s impossible to replicate. Our aim is to make food that’s so fantastic, people don’t miss them!”
The herbs, vegetables and salad are from Borough Market’s Ted’s Veg; the wheat gluten flour and barley from an organic English supplier. The optional seeded, vegan-glazed brioche buns are brought in fresh from Rhodes Bakery in Greenwich.
“At first we thought it was better in a bun, but increasingly people have been asking for it on a bed of salad, but with all the trimmings”—crisp fresh leaves, tomato relish, pickles, tangy homemade vegan mayo and a slice of vegan cheese—“so now you have the option,” Anna grins.
The classic v burger was born following a Veggie Table revamp, with a host of other new dishes alongside. “An overwhelming number of customers were asking us for vegan products, so we decided to make the move to solely vegan—this burger was a result of that decision,” Anna continues.
“The halloumi burger has been part of our offering for 10 years, so the challenge was to create dishes that are so great, it won’t be missed”—we can vouch for their success.