Burger purists who make 5 p.m. reservations at Craigie on Main in hopes of snagging one of the 18 beefy, nationally renowned secret burgers the restaurant makes that day might scoff at a vegetarian alternative.
But owner/chef Tony Maws, who spent more than a year perfecting the newly released vegetable burger recipe, said that both he and the restaurant he runs have always been big purveyors of vegetarian cuisine.
“I can see how it happened, because of the burger, but it’s still confusing to me that people think of Craigie on Main as a meat place,” Maws said. “I love vegetables. We serve vegetable tasting plates all the time. I eat vegetarian most of the week when I’m at home, and save the pastas and meats, the heavier stuff, for when I go out. Today for breakfast I ate some stir-fried veggies with an egg on top.”
The new Craigie Vegetable Burger’s base is made of roasted black beans, brown rice, and lentils, with egg as a binding agent. The patty is topped with fire-roasted mushrooms, tahini, fermented black bean powder, miso powder, and pomegranate molasses, and it’s all served on a homemade bun.
Don’t expect it to taste anything like the secret burger, either. While it shares some of the same savory characteristics as its beefy counterpart and is also served on a bun, its many differences are by design, Maws said.
“It’s weird, this whole concept of a veggie burger that tastes like a burger,” Maws said. “They’ve got this ‘Impossible Burger’ that tries to mimic the taste of a hamburger, and I don’t get that.
“Most vegetarians I know aren’t looking for something that tastes like beef,” Maws continued. “Our veggie burger is nothing like our other burger, but it’s damn good.”
Similar to the restaurant’s secret burger, the veggie burger is available in limited quantities. Unlike the secret burger, it’s only served on Tuesday nights for now. Though Maws is very happy with how the vegetable burger turned out, he still wants to see if the customer response compares to that of the original secret burger.
“We’re here to serve the customer, so if there’s demand, we’ll go for it,” Maws said. “But we want to see if this is just some dot-com buzz, some online hype, before we make it any bigger.”