It's always a struggle trying to find time to write a few blog posts in my particular corner of the internet due to the usual round of exams and assignments. Still, I'd be lying if I said I'd not found time to do some eating.
I love a good vegan burger (so much so, I ate 10 of them not so long ago). At the first sign of some form of patty in between two bits of bread, ideally with some fried potato for company, I'm there shouting 'take my money!'
One of my university placements regularly takes me up to east London, and often I get kicked out around lunchtime, roaming the streets in need of some vegan sustenance. After a bit of judicious internet searching, I found out that I could haul myself down to Arancini Brothers and get one of their vegan burgers.
I'd seen Arancini Brothers stall at various street food and pop-up type things but I'd never thought to check if they had any vegan options. Happily, at the Dalston branch has a few dishes for the plant-based folks out there - I'll be scarfing the excellently named Vegans Recovery breakfast wrap if I'm ever hungry in E9 at some ungodly hour of the morning.
Most of the vegan stuff on the Arancini Brothers menu are various versions of their mushroom and courgette risotto balls. You can get them on their own with dip, in a salad box, or in a breakfasty or non-breakfasty wrap. Or, instead of getting all those dainty arancini separately, you can just get the vegan burger - which is a load of those dainty arancini bunged together into one massive patty.
This is a burger where all the elements are nicely thought through - good bun, fresh salad, lots of good chutney, and all manner of sauces on the table to tart things up if you need them (anyone with more than one hot sauce on offer immediately wins my heart). To be honest, the patty gets a bit lost in the strong flavours of the chutney and ketchup, but that's no bad thing - it's just one note in a well-played burger orchestra, rather than the star soloist.
Beware, the patty does tend to go claggy quite quickly - occupational hazard of risotto, I guess! - so stuff your face with it while it's good and hot for maximum enjoyment. I'd also like to rhapsodise about those chips too. I mean, if I say they're the best part of the meal, you'll tell me I've lost my tiny idiot mind. But seriously, I don't know what the spice mix they put on the chips was, but I'm guessing unicorn kisses, because it's that good.
I got a bit of carb overload by the end of this, so maybe next time I'll go for the salad box (you can get a load of salad topped with some risotto balls) and maybe the chips on the side (who am I kidding with 'maybe'?!) and hopefully lessen the carb coma.
I went on to have the polar opposite burger at Temple of Hackney not long after.
Temple of Hackney is the all-vegan friend chicken shop that made the news a few months back when it opened, with people queuing left right and centre to get their seitan burger fix.
It was still happily busy when I popped in, though I only had to wait five minutes for an order, rather than the hours people were allegedly waiting back in January. I got me a burger and fries, as before, but a very different kind of dinner.
The good bits first: the seitan burger was good. Really good. A soft, chewy interior and the sort of crisp fried outside that could bring a vegan tear to the eye. I'd happily eat the seitan burger on its own every day, were it not for the fact my arteries wouldn't thank me. The vegan bacon was respectable, with the dark smokiness you'd hope, though a bit more crispness and a little less greasiness would have been no bad thing.
The less good bits: the rest of it was on the bland side. There was too much bread without much to recommend it, the lettuce was standard issue, and the chips were cold and dry by the time they got to me. The subpar fixings meant the meal wasn't as good as it could be. I'd go back to Temple of Hackney again, but I'd just ask for a load of the seitan, entirely nude. They also do mac and cheese, so maybe a bowl of that on the side too.
So, a tale of two burgers then - both not perfect, but still worth a return visit. Even a less than perfect vegan burger is still a great burger by any stretch of the imagination.