Food Experience

No Bones About It

New Burger, the casual option at Plant City, defies the meat comparison


But does it taste like a real burger? That’s the first question people ask. They’ve heard of meatless burgers, and they want to know whether a vegan version will fool their brains into thinking it’s beef. In the era of the Impossible Burger, plant-based substitutes are like a magic trick.

This is the wrong question, of course. Instead, you should ask: Is it good? When you walk into New Burger, you’re not just entering a no-kill copy of a regular burger joint. Matthew
Kenney, the acclaimed chef behind New Burger, created the restaurant to celebrate plant-based cuisine on its own, independent terms.

Plant City, the new food emporium on Water Street, houses multiple venues: a cafe, a smoothie bar, a tiny market, a gourmet pizzeria, and a cocktail lounge. No animals were harmed in the creation of these places – and that includes New Burger, the hip-casual restaurant on the first floor.

But to answer that question: no. The burgers at New Burger don’t mimic cow flesh in any way. The taste is different. The texture is different. The patty is surprisingly squishy, and too much pressure will cause it to ooze past the bun. The sunflower cheddar would never pass for dairy cheese. The beet ketchup is so unlike processed tomato paste that New Burger also provides regular ketchup.

Instead, the Classic Burger is its own kind of pleasure, a messy, earthy experience that doesn’t weigh you down. The beet ketchup is naturally sweet; like Heinz, it dominates the palate. In place of mayonnaise, the sweet potato fries mix nicely with a cup of chili sauce. As the bartender informed me, the Classic Burger is the least-remarkable thing on the menu; the staff favorite is the Truffle Burger, incorporating wild mushroom and truffle aioli. There’s a Barbecue version as well, which has won its own following.

For omnivores, one of the biggest surprises of a vegan lifestyle is how friendly it is to alcohol consumption. The New Burger bar is elegant and well-stocked; you’ll find a range of local beers, from Revival to Proclamation Ale. Plants also make for great cocktails, and the Sangria and Mezcal Mule are elixirs that almost anyone will love. As a nod to health food trends, there’s also the Basil Smash: There’s vodka and basil, but it’s mixed with fizzy kombucha. All of these beverages nicely complement the menu. The bar is cozy, and New Burger stays open until 1am on weekends. A plant-based burger joint might seem like an odd place to spend time in the wee hours, but in the wise words of Dr. Suess: Try it, try it, you will see.

New Burger
334 South Water Street • 429-2029