Patty: House-made fermented vegetable patty.
Toppings: Crispy onions and lettuce with a sauce that consists of Veganaise, pickle liquor, mustard and house-made sriracha, served in an unglazed sesame bun.
The sell: Neil Rankin created Simplicity Burger in bid to provide an alternative to what he describes as the processed meat substitutes used by most operators within the space. The patty itself has been created by combining fermented vegetables (predominately mushrooms) with barley miso, bulgur wheat and potato protein, which is steamed then fried on the griddle in order to char the edges.
Verdict: The Temper chef spent months perfecting the patty recipe in order to ensure it resembles the taste and texture of a classic beef burger as closely as possible, and it’s certainly worth the wait. The patty is juicy, with a smoky quality from the mushrooms that’s complemented by the charred effect of cooking it on the griddle. Served in a classic bun with a tangy sauce, it manages to feel both mainstream and unique at the same time.
Hard Rock Café
Name: Moving Mountains burger
Patty: Moving Mountains.
Toppings: Cheddar cheese, crispy onion ring, lettuce and tomato in a toasted white bun
The sell: One of the key new additions to the recently overhauled Hard Rock Café menu, and notable for being one of the first from a major operator to serve the Moving Mountains patty, which features an oyster mushroom base with wheat, soy and pea proteins, beetroot juice, coconut oil, oats and vitamin B12. On Hard Rock’s part, a lot has been done to ‘normalise’ the burger; it’s cooked on a flame grill to enhance the flavour, and is available as a vegan dish if ordered without cheese, or topped with a slice of cheddar as a vegetarian of flexitarian option.
Price: £17.50 (with fries)
Verdict: Similarly to the more widely available Beyond Burger, Moving Mountains has tried to emulate a classic beef burger by making the patty in such a way that it ‘bleeds’ when bitten into; although in terms of both taste and texture, it can’t quite compete with its main rival.
Name: The Neat
Patty: A ‘bespoke’ patty made in collaboration with Beyond Burger.
Toppings: Lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles and Neat sauce in a toasted white bun.
The sell: Backed by Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Neat Burger is positioning itself as veganism’s answer to mass market fast food, with a scalable model (only three burgers feature on the menu) and plans to expand the concept globally (14 franchises are scheduled in the next two years). The eponymous Neat burger contains a single bespoke patty created in collaboration with Beyond Meat by the restaurant’s dedicated team of chefs.
Verdict: The patty is notably thinner than that produced by Beyond, and cooked quickly on a flat-top grill in a way that’s reminiscent of Five Guys. Served in a thick burger bun and topped heavily with salad, the patty itself feels overpowered by the elements surrounding it. And, despite comparisons with mass market burger brands, the premium price point may mean it will struggle to have as broad an appeal as the owners would like.
Biff’s Jack Shack
Name: The Big Jack
Patty: Jackfruit-based patty, breaded and deep-fried.
Toppings: Top secret burger sauce, American ‘cheeze’, gherkins, red onion, lettuce and tomato in a vegan brioche bun from Paul Rhodes bakery.
The sell: Biff’s Jack Shack’s burger patties are primarily notable for two reasons. First, they’re made with popular meat substitute jackfruit. Second, they’re deep-fried rather than cooked on a griddle which, according to the eponymous Biff, is done to help ensure the patty doesn’t dry out. The original Big Jack burger features a single patty slathered in sauce, and topped with vegan cheese, classic burger toppings, and served in a vegan brioche bun.
Verdict: The brand very much plays towards the ‘dirty burger’ ethos on its menu, which the burgers rich in flavour and messy to handle. It looks and feels indulgent, but it’s crucially a much lighter proposition thanks primarily to the crispy jackfruit patty.
Patty: Beyond Burger patty.
Toppings: Vegan smoked gouda, chipotle mayonnaise, mustard, red onion, pickles and lettuce in an Honest vegan bun.
The sell: Made using a classic Beyond Burger patty, Honest Burger has carefully positioned its vegan option to have the same premium appearance as its meat offerings. Made primarily from pea protein, the patty has a subtle taste that gives Honest a blank canvas to create its own flavour combinations.
Price: £13.50 (with chips)
Verdict: Served with a smoked vegan cheese, pickles and salad, the burger as a whole has more definition than a number of its rivals – the build of the burger allowing for a balance between the different elements – even if the dense patty never quite feels like it mimics the meaty texture as successfully as is suggested.
Name: The Classic Burger
Patty: A tempeh, lentil, chia and walnut patty.
Toppings: Pickles, onions, beetroot ketchup and ‘special’ sauce, served in a potato bun.
The sell: Similarly to Neat burger, By Chloe’s classic burger is a smaller product compared to other burgers noted here, which may be telling as to why it’s the brand’s Guac Burger – a black bean, quinoa and sweet potato patty topped with guacamole, corn salsa, tortilla strips and chipotle aioli in a whole grain bun – that is actually its bigger seller.
Verdict: The closest to a traditional beef burger to feature on the US vegan chain’s menu, the tempeh, lentil, chia and walnut patty looks the part, but it lacks flavour and density, with the toppings relied on to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of both taste and texture.
Patty & Bun
Patty: A soya-based patty made in collaboration with a secret partner.
Toppings: ‘THIS Isnt’ bacon, spicy vegan mayonnaise, vegan cheddar, tomato, white onion, pickles, lettuce and ketchup in a Bonsoy bun.
The Sell: Patty & Bun keeps its cards close to its chest when it comes to who has helped create its plant-based burger patty, but it is keen to point out that the patty features a lower saturated fat content compared to its rivals (0.6g). The burger also features vegan bacon created by meat-alternative brand THIS, which also supplies Patty & Bun with its plant-based nuggets.
Verdict: As close as a vegan burger can probably get to being ‘a little bit naughty’. The lightly seasoned patty is complemented by the smokiness of the vegan bacon, with the cheese and spicy mayonnaise content ensuring that the burger retains the brand’s trademark sloppiness.
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