In search of the ultimate Veggie Burger

Sometimes, you just need a burger. You know which times I mean. You’re tired, starving or maybe you’re feeling the effects of a few too many drinks the night before. It’s a nasty combination of symptoms that only a burger will sort out.

But it can’t be any old burger. It needs to be the QUEEN of burgers, scoring full marks in the four key areas – bun, garnish, chips and of course, the burger itself. The first three elements need to set the stage for the burger, which means a freshly made bun, a crisp, complementary garnish and homemade chips so good that you’ll want to dedicate your favourite love song to them. With the stage set, the burger can then shine in all its glory. It needs to be handcrafted, zinging with flavour and so big that you need to open your mouth REALLY wide to devour it. These are MY requirements for the ultimate burger.

As a vegetarian, this craving is rarely satisfied. All-too-often, the veggie burger in question is NOT homemade, no matter what the menu states. It’s usually frozen, smothered in unappetizing white breadcrumbs which encase a slushy mound of mashed potato, peas, carrots and sweetcorn. This is usually sandwiched in a stale sesame seed bun, with soggy lettuce, an anaemic tomato and frozen chips that aren’t cooked properly. Bitter I may sound, but I’ve been stung so many times that I’d begun to accept my lot in life – that I would never again enjoy a veggie burger when eating out.

But hold those violins! This weekend I headed to London to see the almighty Bruce Springsteen, and after a seven hour journey I was in SEVERE need of a pick-me-up. Before completing the final leg of our journey to Wembley, we made a pit-stop at The Wandle, a pub in Earlsfield to catch up with our good friend, Catherine. As we waited for her, I scoured the menu and immediately locked eyes on my prize: “Homemade veggie burger with tomato relish & hand-cut chips”. It was exactly what I needed, so I took a chance. WHAT. A. PAY-OFF.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best veggie burgers I have EVER tasted. Seriously good.

The bun was definitely fresh – fluffy yet firm, with the added bonus of seeds which gave it a crunchy kick. Topping this was a pile of mixed leaves, a succulent slice of tomato and a dollop of piquant tomato relish – just enough to add texture and punch to the burger, but not so much that the bun was reduced to a soggy mess.

Then there were the chips. Oh MY, the chips. Abandon your normal preconceptions of chips that accompany burgers. These chips were more akin to enormous potato wedges – fat, well-seasoned and crispy with a fluffy exterior, kicking the ass of the spindly frozen matchsticks that too many pubs are guilty of serving.

The stage was most certainly set, so without further ado I introduce the burger. A satisfying slab of veggie MAGIC, the burger’s crunchy outer layer protected a celebratory mix of whole and mashed chickpeas, infused with a subtle balance of spices. Slathered with a melted layer of sharp vintage cheddar, the burger welded together a wonderful combination of textures and flavours that felt like they were dancing on my tongue. Unlike many homemade veggie burgers, it didn’t spill out over the sides of the bun as you took a bite and instead remained firm and intact, enabling each mouthful to take in every lovingly-assembled component.

I left The Wandle feeling utterly content. My burger craving was satisfied and I was suitably fuelled for an evening in The Boss’s company – win-win. To declare it the best veggie burger ever is a bold claim, but it’s certainly a worthy contender. And at just £8.50 (+ £1.25 for cheddar) in central London, it’s a bargain for such craftsmanship.

The Wandle is located in Earlsfield, just 3 stops by overland train from Waterloo. Visit The Wandle website to plan your visit!

The Wandle is located in Earlsfield, just 3 stops by overland train from Waterloo. Visit their website here: http://www.capitalpubcompany.com/our-pubs/the-wandle/

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