Full disclosure: there is no point in us reviewing The Rusty Bicycle as a pub in a more general sense, because we basically live there. They might as well have a plaque on a table for us. We spend a completely disproportionate amount of our earnings in this establishment. This does not mean, however, that as two women of Strong Opinions about basically all food, we could not objectively assess their latest menu offering: the vegan Leaf Not Beef burger.
Between the two of us we have differing foodie positions covered: Lucy is a card-carrying vegetarian, and I eat everything. ‘Everything’ here definitely includes vegan and veggie burgers so I’ve tried a fair few, but I was relying on Lucy for the legit vegetarian view of how this burger stacked up against the many bean-based options on the market.
UGH, bean burgers! I have happily replaced many meaty food options as a vegetarian (did you know Quorn meatballs taste exactly like Ikea ones? And you don’t have to put meat on pizza at all), but burgers have always eluded me. The problem is twofold – firstly, the texture (pasty and loose and gluey and NOT juicy, because beans don’t juice) and also that people position vegetarian food as the healthy option. So on top of your joyless bean disk you get, like, hummus and roasted peppers rather than mayo and cheese. UGH. The Rusty’s classic veggie burger is better than most because it is two deep-fried mushrooms filled with cheese. That’s still not really a burger though, so I was delighted to try this new offering.
I, on the other hand, was comparing the Leaf Not Beef to a classic meat burger, and I have to say that it stacked up favourably. If you had given me this burger without telling me it was vegan and I wasn’t particularly paying attention (or was drunk), I quite possibly wouldn’t have noticed that it wasn’t real meat. The flavour of the patty was really excellent. The texture was ever so slightly off when compared with real meat – a bit softer, but not in an unpleasant way. The vegan cheese was also a pleasant surprise, as I have historically really hated vegan cheese quite a lot in the past. In fairness, it was trying to imitate American-style burger cheese rather than an excellent mature cheddar, and it wouldn’t be my choice in a cheese sandwich, but it did the job perfectly nicely here.
It’s a proper burger!! As Hannah says, the texture is very slightly off from real meat, but such an improvement on most in the market. It was juicy and fatty and salty, just like a real burger. Obviously, this similarity might put some people off – the market here is for people who always quite liked the taste of meat, but just weren’t cool with murdering cows for it. I eat mayo and cheese normally, and would not have been able to tell you that these were vegan alternatives if I didn’t know. This is the second best veggie burger I’ve ever had (the first, weirdly, was Disneyland Paris).
Quite apart from the question of whether or not it tasted like a classic meat burger, it was just a very tasty thing to eat. If I was at the Rusty in the future and fancied a burger, I’d probably get this rather than the meat option, because it is an excellent meal and I’d feel better about myself for not eating cow.
Yay cows 🙂 Well done Rusty, this is why you’re our favourite pub.
We dined as guests of The Rusty Bicycle