Quick Bite: Zen Burger
We enjoyed Daisy Carrington's review of the city's vegetarian-hamburger options, and will act on some of her recommendations. I, too, am a somewhat guilt-ridden hamburger fiend, so the idea of a delicious meatless burger is an elusive thing of beauty.
One place we checked out recently with great anticipation is Zen Burger, (465 Lexington Ave., between East 45th and 46th streets) which basked in an initial flurry of attention recently as a healthy, tasty alternative to McDonald's. And with good reason: It shares a corporate lineage with Zen Palate.
Now, we were predisposed to falling in love with Zen Burger and singing its praises to anybody who would listen. To be sure, we were lured by the funky logo, and the bold, 70ish Day-glow stripes running through the place. From a interior-design point of view, Zen Burger is already successful.
But simply put, the place let us down where it counts. The Zen Beef Burger is supposed to simulate the experience of enjoying a real fast-food burger. And the feel is certainly familiar. But the taste struck us as somewhat bland, and the fries lacked flavor, despite their ostensible similarity to the holy grail of fast-food fries -- McDonald's. Pressed to think of better meatless burgers, we immediately thought of the offerings at Houstons, which has a delicious vegeterian option.
Again, we want to like the place, and plan to swing by again, trying their signature dish and a few other items too. There's a lot of potential here. And it's worth noting that the burgers are touted as healthy -- containing protein-rich vegetables, whole grains, soy and lacking trans fats and gobs of cholesterol. So if you're craving junk food, this is definitely a healthier alternative (but let's just not call it health food) than giving into that Wendy's urge. But, right now, we need more convincing that it's worth the trip.
-- Rolando Pujol