Common Roots Cafe vs. French Meadow Cafe in veggie burger battle

Categories: Food Fight

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Common Roots vs. French Meadow
May is officially recognized as Hamburger Month by the people who get to decide such things. The Hot Dish has no intention of questioning the wisdom of such a decision, mainly because we love burgers.

But we are aware of the large segment of the population that avoids eating meat. Luckily, the Twin Cities food scene offers a wide range of "alternaburgers"-- burgers made from all manner of things that don't have faces.

In this latest in an ongoing series, Common Roots Cafe's veggie burger goes head-to-head with French Meadow Bakery and Cafe's version.  Which of these eco-conscious eateries comes out on top?

 

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Common Roots' spinach & walnut veggie burger

 These two restaurants are both on Lyndale Avenue, separated by only half of a block.  Both offer menus peppered with words like "organic," "free-trade," "grass-fed," and "gluten-free".  Even the most conscientious chowhounds should find meals without violating morals-- eats without offending ethics.

Common Roots Cafe

This brightly-colored building disguises a very "public house" setting, complete with a coffee refill pay cup that runs on the honor system.  The Common Roots veggie burger ($10) is made in-house from fresh spinach and walnuts and is served on a fresh poppy seed bun, along with lemon aioli, red onions, and tomato.

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The inside--well, actually, it's all kinda 'inside'...

First, the good news: the patty tastes good.  There's a mild, earthy quality to the blend of leaf and nut meat.  The spices provide a full and pleasing flavor.  However, the consistency and texture of this veggie burger will not fool any carnivores.  The loose malleability makes for something more reminiscent of the inside of a spinach pie.

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French Meadow veggie burger with cheese (standard)

French Meadow Bakery and Cafe

This bakery and cafe has a slightly more formal feeling, despite also featuring menus written in chalk behind the counter.

The outside of the patty is firm and dense, providing a slight resistance to the bite. The inside is soft and chewy. All in all, this veggie burger patty is very similar in texture and mouthfeel to the processed chicken patties served in cafeterias. Make no mistake; this is a compliment.

Adding to the pleasure is the excellent "organic sprouted-flourless" bun. OK, we're not exactly sure what that means, but we do know it's quite tasty. The burger is also served with the requisite lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions, as well as a chive aioli.

 

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This patty tears instead of smushes.
Winner: French Meadow Bakery and Cafe

These two burgers, while both touted as veggie burgers, offer a very different dining experience.  There's definitely something to be said for Common Roots' offering, like a robust flavor and a unique recipe.  But the presence of cheese alone could sway a lacto-vegetarian toward French Meadow.  And for those whose vegetarianism hasn't lasted long enough to wash away the memory of meat, French Meadow more closely approximates the texture of beef.

Have you sampled these two veggie burgers?  Do you know of one better?  We'd love your opinions in the comments section below.


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10 comments
RockyPJ
RockyPJ

Michael - how about testing the black bean quinoa burger at Birchwood and the veggie burger at Peoples Organic? Also, Peoples Organic had a Bison burger that my hubby LOVED.

sw
sw

Why don't you do a follow up, now that you are realizing the French Meadow is probably not making a fresh veggie burger in house.  Follow up with someone higher up than the server-- I can get a frozen veggie burger at Rainbow!!! Love the home made fresh ingredients....

wa
wa

One key fact here that is missing from this article is that French Meadow's veggie burgers are not made in house- they are the Morning star brand that anyone can buy from the grocery store.  At least Common roots is being creative and using fresh ingredients.  Common roots should win on this alone

Elsa
Elsa

I'm not sure most veggie burgers are intended to be imitation meat - in fact, as someone who eats meat, I'd much prefer a veggie burger as its own thing. I can get real beef, I don't need fake beef.

Rivcook9
Rivcook9

ummm.. should be "fair-trade"  huge party foul!

Michael Mattson
Michael Mattson

I'd be more concerned with the fact that French Meadow is not being honest.  I asked the server if they were made in house and I was told yes.  Now, it's possible that she misunderstood or misheard me, but this is still slightly disturbing.

Michael Mattson
Michael Mattson

No, there's no rule that says veggie burgers are "imitation meat" per se, but as mg noted, they do attempt to get a consistency and texture that is close.  Otherwise, it's just a veggie sandwich, which just isn't the same thing.

Full disclosure: I am NOT a vegetarian.  I love me some red meat.  So please keep that in mind when reading my reviews of veggie burgers- I'm going to end up comparing them to meat. 

mg
mg

different strokes, Elsa. i ate meat for 38 years before giving it up. i don't miss the flavor, but i do miss the textures. i don't need a veg burger to imitate beef, but i do like it to have some character and firmness to it.

Anon
Anon

Free range and fair trade, or free trade and fair range?

Michael Mattson
Michael Mattson

Good eyes!  Although I have to wonder what you have against "free-trade".  Don't you love America?!?/end sarcasm

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