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

Categories: Food Fight

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?


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.

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.

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.


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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