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Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards 2012 – Best Veggie Burger

Yorkholo Brewing Company – Black Bean & Spent Grain Veggie Burger

Yorkholo Brewing Company of Mansfield has a wonderful microbrewery and the region’s very best Veggie Burger of 2012. Their Black Bean & Spent Grain Veggie Burger has a very crispy exterior, served super hot, almost deep fried in its breadcrumb coating. The flavor is what makes it top-notch with minced black beans, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and onions combined with spent grain, green peppers is nicely seasoned. I loved the zippy Pico de Gallo on it and the roll was fresh and bread not too dense. The whole burger, although a tiny bit crumbly, has a great texture, well balanced flavors and is a good size. I got it without the provolone but that would enhance the burger even more.

The Green Room Bistro – Quinoa Burger grabbed 2nd place.

This year, I was able to sample quite a few house made veggie burgers in the over 20 counties we judge in the Pennsyltucky region. No matter what the presentation, restaurants that just heat up a commercial grade Gardenburger® Veggie Medley are never going to make the cut anymore.

Otto’s Pub and Brewery – 2011 Winner

From Mansfield to Carlisle, I reveled in the task of comparing so many well crafted burgers. Sadly, Harrisburg’s Appalachian Brewing Company’s Cucumber Garden Burger left me flat but the second place burger this year was in that same region. A big shout out goes to The Green Room Bistro and Juice Bar of Carlisle for their Green Room Veggie Burger. Made of black beans, forbidden rice, red onion, red & yellow peppers, cilantro, red quinoa, it can be made gluten free and vegan. Typically served on a whole grain ciabatta, you can even ask it to be topped with Daiya Cheese – delightful!

Yorkholo Brewing Company – Black Bean & Spent Grain Veggie Burger

The 2011 Pennsyltucky Veggie – Best Veggie Burger, Otto’s Pub and Brewery Vegetarian Walnut Burger, was also a main contender. The State College restaurant’s rice, black bean, and walnut based burgers are crafted in house and have a nice smoky and peppery flavor. I can’t go a week without plotting to eat one.

Two final honorable mentions go to the house made Ritchie Valen Burger at Retro Eatery in Philipsburg and the Spicy Black Bean Burger at Olde New York in State College with its unbeatable taste but not made in house.

Congratulations to Yorkholo Brewing Company of Mansfield and their Black Bean & Spent Grain Veggie Burger for being chosen to receive Pennsyltucky Veggie 2012 Best Veggie Burger.

Do know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant’s veggie burger that you think can beat this one in 2013? If it’s in central PA (see map here) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment!
Yorkholo Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Brews n Bytes Café & Eatery

Brews n Bytes Café & Eatery has not had an easy time of it over the past few years. The little sign from the outside announces that it is a “bastion of music, arts & free speech.” They might want to add a parenthetical title of “when the flooding waters of the nearby Susquehanna cut us a break.” Danville frequently floods and Brews n Bytes is doing its best to, yet again, rise phoenix-like out of what had been a sopping mess on Lower Mulberry Street.

The co-owner, Jason Leonardo Rafael Perez-Dieppa, is gregarious and enthusiastic about his business. Although I could not tell you what the place was like before the multiple times it had been flooded, he is applying a lot of love and elbow grease into what is shaping up to be a lovely little café. From what I can derive from their FaceBook history, it was a favorite (and seems to be again) drawing performers and a regular coffeehouse kind of crowd.

From a cultural standpoint, coffeehouses serve largely as centers of social interaction, Brews n Bytes seems to be just that kind of place. I do ask why I, as an introvert, find myself popping into places where many congregate to commune and chat. It is clear that the vegetarian food options had been calling me for some months and for those who like catching up on the local scene, my telling of the social aspect will be an added enhancement.

Chef Lisa, co-owner, has crafted yet another exciting menu with many vegetarian and vegan options. Between Jim and myself, we ordered the Veggie Chili and the Putini Panini (vegan). Above and beyond that, when we visited in the very last days of 2011, the menu then included a lot of vegan wraps like a Veggie Burger in strips or the Portobella Lagosi. Next time I think I will order a Humana Humana Hummus.

They had just re-opened and were still pulling together a few things like the espresso area but that wasn’t stopping local performers from already booking gigs. It was a bit drafty because of some final repairs that were being made but we had a good time knowing that when we next visited it would be even more attractive than it already was. The brightly colored walls, cozy furniture and temporarily quiet musical equipment all radiated a place that was filled with joy.

Jim said his coffee was “really good” as we sat enjoying a jazzy Pandora Radio station at one of the dozen little tables in the back dining area. We were glad to sit and enjoy our surroundings at leisure; parking is cheap on the one-way Mulberry Street at >10 for 30 minutes. Families and veggie folks of all ages will feel comfortable and welcome and I have been eager to write this glowing review since December 2011.

The Vegan Putini Panini was served halved on a super-fresh, thyme seasoned 6″ panini. It was pleasantly warm and crammed with hummus and oodles of soft grilled vegetables. Not just a variety of flavors and textures had been paid attention to, Chef Lisa obviously considered color and chose carrots, zucchini, red onions, mushrooms and red peppers to fill our sandwich. A festive little portion of creamy corn and black bean salad dressed up the plate and added a gentle south-western flavor to the meal.

The Veggie Chili was served with sour cream and cheese on the side and was wisely spiced mild/medium for the Pennsyltucky palette. It was thick with TVP, black and kidney beans, onions, red and green peppers. Very hearty on such a chilling day, I appreciated that it came out piping hot.

Not far off Interstate 80’s Danville exit, this is a spot all Pennsyltucky veggie travelers should know about. They are open Tues-Sat 10:30 AM to 9 PM and you might want to check the Webpage or FaceBook to see if there is a band playing. Brews n Bytes boasts the most extensive and unique fusion/eclectic vegetarian (seafood too) menu within 100 miles and it’s true. You can enjoy a vegan meal, great coffee and take advantage of the Wifi in a warm and hospitable atmosphere. Something tells me with Brews n Bytes, the best is yet to come.
Brews N Bytes Internet Cafe on Urbanspoon

Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards 2011 – Best Veggie Burger

Gamble Mill's Gardenburger, Bellefonte

Not every place that offers a veggie burger in central PA makes their own but more restaurants are and the overall quality is really much better.

No matter what the presentation, the restaurants that just heat up a commercial grade Gardenburger® Veggie Medley are never going to make the cut anymore.

Runner Up - Tree Hugger Burger

Trust me that I am judging more than just foods in State College. Harrisburg’s Appalachian Brewing Company’s Tree Hugger Burger was close in the running with its perfectly cooked house made patty. I see they no longer carry it but am looking forward to trying their new Cucumber Garden Burger to consider for Pennsyltucky Veggie Awards 2012.

This year I give my 2011 Pennsyltucky Veggie – Best Veggie Burger award to Otto’s Pub & Brewery in State College. For $6.00 – $7.00 a choice of 3 differently styled burgers can be had with their meat subsitute of a Vegetarian Walnut Burger. The best of the choices is the Arthurnator topped with avocado and Amish pepperjack cheese.

Otto's Aurthurnator - 2011 Winner

As with the 2011 Porotbello Award, I am not considering the accompanying sides in the judging of the many Veggie Burgers, they are too various for it to be fair. What makes Otto’s Arthurnator the winner is it’s flavor, texture, choice of ingredients, cooking style, presentation and value for portion size.

All of Otto’s Vegetarian Walnut Burgers are rice, black bean, and walnut based then are served on huge Gemelli rolls. The burgers are crafted in house with a nice smoky and peppery flavor, the local Amish cheese and avocado making this a really special burger. Make sure to ask your server to have it cooked separately from any meat products, they have enough cooking surfaces to do so. The vegetable oil it is grilled with can been clearly tasted without a trace of meat cross contamination.

Congratlations to Otto’s Pub & Brewery (see restaurant review here) for being chosen to receive Pennsyltucky Veggie 2011 Best Veggie Burger.

Do know of a Pennsyltucky restaurant’s veggie burger that you think can beat this one in 2012? If it’s in central PA (see map here) and is a regular vegetarian menu item, let me know and I will include it in the judging next year! Drop me, Pennsyltucky Veggie, a line or feel free to leave a comment!

Vegan Walnut Beet Burgers

Vegan Walnut Beet Burgers

I made this recipe for lunch today. It made 2 hearty patties that were really flavorful. They retained their heat through the very last bite. I served them on big rolls with Daiya cheddar style shreds, thin slices of fresh fennel instead of onion, avocado wedges, greens and regular ol’ burger condiments.

Jim liked that they had some spiciness to them, didn’t fall apart without being rubbery like soy and stayed warm until the last bite. I like that I could used my Ninja food processor again and how the outside of the patties browned up in the pan when I fried them in olive oil.

To a vegetarian, they are a little spooky pink/red meat color before frying and have a suspicious “rare burger” look about them even after being cooked but they are delicious!

1 Roasted Beet (see tin foil beets)
1 Cup Walnut pieces
1 Tbs. Vegan Ponzu sauce
1 Tbs. Dried Minced Onion
1 Tbs. olive Oil (plus another for frying)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until a coarse wet meal that holds together when pressed into a small test patty. Divide mixture in half and press each into two, 1/2″ thick, patties. Allow them to sit for 15 minutes so the dried onions hydrate a bit and the patties become even more firm.

Heat second tablespoon of olive oil in a hot pan. Fry patties on medium heat carefully. Turn until each side is nicely browned. Top with Daiya cheddar style shreds and serve immediately on a roll with your favorite burger toppings.

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