As every burger-ordering vegetarian knows, not all veggie burgers are created equal. And if we really are what we eat, a salt-depleted Kara Murphy risks transforming into a human patty on a hunt for Brisbane’s best. (Words and images by Kara Murphy, who paid her own way and visited anonymously)
“I’m afraid we don’t carry those,” says a counter employee in response to my request for a packet of salt. As an admitted salt fiend, I’m stunned. But the unhealthy seasoning isn’t the only omission at this Burger Edge franchise in Manly, one of Brisbane’s bayside suburbs; they also don’t carry soft Turkish buns as advertised online. And, despite opening only an hour ago, they’re out of my first choice – the lentil-based Pulse burger ($9.90).
It’s an inauspicious start to my quest to find Brisbane’s best veggie burger. The rules are simple: the burger must include a bun and a meatless patty, and I’ve based my ratings (from 1-10 carrots, far right) on the aforementioned essentials as well as on garnishes, sauces/relishes, and overall taste.
1. Vegetarian Sensation from Purple Gorilla: Would probably satisfy the pickiest gorilla. 9.2 carrots $11
2. Beast Free from Beastie Burgers: Tasty enough to silence your burger beast. 8.6 carrots $9.50
3. Veggie Burger from Point of View Takeaway: From the writer’s POV, simply delicious. 8.2 carrots $6.30
4. Bliss Burger from My Heart Garden: So healthy your heart might still be hungry. 6.8 carrots $10.50
5. Thai Princess from Burger Edge: Failing to be patty-wowed put this burger queen on edge. 6.6 carrots $9.90
To be fair, Burger Edge’s other vegetarian option, the Thai Princess ($8.90), doesn’t really need extra salt but does disappoint royally in one area. The thick Thai vegetable patty, containing peas, carrots, diced potato, corn, onion and flecks of something green, is too bready and has an odd outer layer. On the upside (literally) is a generous helping of crisp lettuce leaves, vibrant purple onion slivers and two red tomato slices, and the sourdough white bun (smeared with not quite enough of a spicy sweet chilli mayo) is warm and chewy. However, the fresh coriander promised is undetectable.
Two burgers in and I consider abandoning my quest. I could, after all, bury my face in a tried and true favourite at the Point of View Takeaway at Wellington Point (which, incidentally, stocks salt packets). This vegetable and potato-based, unapologetically non-gourmet option ($6.30) – served on a cushiony, toasted and buttered white sesame seed bun with mayo, chopped lettuce, several pinches of red onion, tomato and an ample piece of beetroot – is consistently satisfying, even if it does become a tad mushy towards final bites.
However, failing to leave Moreton Bay would hardly be fair to the rest of Brisbane, so I bravely press west to Woolloongabba’s Purple Gorilla. Not precisely round, the minced feta, onion and chickpea flour patty on the Vegetarian Sensation ($11) looks homemade; the sesame seed bun, seasoned with rosemary-infused olive oil, is delicate in texture and flavour; the aioli, chunky olive tapenade, Mamma’s relish (fried onion) and avocado pesto (made with lemon, garlic, and fresh basil) are all tantalising additions; the lettuce and roasted capsicum are bountiful and aesthetically pleasing. Slightly sweet aftertaste and messiness aside, the burger is, in the truest sense of the word, sensational.
Within walking distance of the Gorilla is Southbank’s licensed Beastie Burgers. Here, the aptly named Beast Free ($9.50) consists of a falafel-like patty (including chickpeas, onion, garlic, cumin and coriander), served on a toasted white bun with lettuce, sweet potato, roast eggplant, capsicum, a nicely balanced chilli jam and a smooth, creamy Persian fetta. Deep-fried, the crunchy patty probably isn’t Brisbane’s healthiest option, but, with tastebuds seduced by fetta, I’m willing to dismiss the extra kilojoules, sweeping them under the table with any wayward crumbs.
Really, this burger queen is more likely to be turned off by a too-healthy burger, which is the case at St Lucia’s My Heart Garden. This 100 percent vegetarian eatery’s vegan Bliss Burger ($10.50) received an honourable mention in PETA’s first annual (2009) Australia’s Best Veggie Burger contest, but the PETA judges must have different palates to mine. Though I have no beef (ha!) with the toasted Panini roll, mango chutney and soy mayo, the mounds of grated carrot and beetroot, sliced tomato and shredded iceberg lettuce overshadow the salty brown lentil and vegetable patty, creating a salad sandwich taste.
I depart craving hot chips and an ice cream.
Maybe, though, the healthy burger does my heart good; the next day I’m filled with a benevolent urge to give Burger Edge’s patties another chance. After all, The Pulse may well be fabulous. I arrive ravenous, with a salt packet swiped from another eatery stuffed in my pocket, just in case.
“Could I have a Pulse, please?” The girl behind the counter smiles sweetly. “I’m so sorry – we’ve run out of those.”
Oh well. With a happy heart, I head for Wellington Point.
Details // Brisbane’s Best Veggie Burger
Burger Edge // Cnr of The Esplanade & Nelson Pde, Manly, (07) 3393 3966, www.burgeredge.com
Point of View Takeaway // 1 Main Rd, Wellington Point, (07) 3207 2341, www.pointofviewrestaurant.net
Purple Gorilla // Shop 19A Gabba Central, 803 Stanley St, Woolloongabba, 1300 GORILLA, www.purplegorilla.com.au
Beastie Burgers // Shop 6d, Little Stanley St, Southbank, (07) 3844 4070.
My Heart Garden // Shop 5, 225 Hawken Dr, St Lucia, (07) 3870 8898.