Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Brief Discourse on the Black Bean Burger


Village Whiskey, population 33. Or a close enough number. It's small in here. Tables are all taken on the inside, bourbon on every tongue.

Three days in, still hammering it all out, drinks come Sunday slow. I'm not here to demand perfection. I'm not here to sip. The price for whiskey by the ounce does not sit too well with me. At the size of the place, I can't see them giving it away. At the same time, I'd be smarter to buy a bottle over at 1913 Chestnut. Then drink it on the way back to my own village.

But I'm well-behaved. I settle for one cocktail, a Modern, scotch all over sloe gin in an orange bitters get-up. It's evenly priced at $11 and is nice for three sips. I forget about it because soft preztels, deviled eggs and a series of pickled vegetables have managed to arrive before our drinks even touch down. When I do return to my drink, it's watery. I suck.

These mason jar nibbles are surely likeable, black olive tapenade and whipped ricotta insured. But let us not forget our mission.

I'm here for the veggie burger and the veggie burger knows it. Our table requests three, for purposes of certainty. Someone behind us orders another veggie, as if to back us up. It's 1/3 of the burger menu. It should be the baddest bitch on Vegetarian Sansom.

One taster says what I'm feeling: It's not quite as good as the Noble burger a few yards away. It's got some girth, built out of black beans and edamame, muffining over the sesame seed bun. The burger accessorizes with guacamole, a miniscule dab that doesn't register, lettuce and tomato, and pickled cabbage, which is the strongest thing going for it. Cheddar is an extra $3, which one of us tacks on, only to find a minor sprinkle of shredded cheese dropped on top. I ate half of the massive sandwich, sated but not impressed. To fine-tune this thing, I would slap on the guac to spark up the mellow bean flavor. Serve with cheddar, sliced instead of shredded. I'm only picky because I've had 549,890 black bean burgers in my lifetime.

We expect a lot from Garces Restaurant Group, even right away, because they're usually ready for us.

The regular burger man at our table enjoyed his Village Burger topped with egg, and we all decided to come back for another round in the future. Biscuit fans should stick by for the Strawberry Shortcake with marinated strawberries. It tastes entirely like butter, if you like that kind of thing. The Village S'mores with chocolate mousse is vegetarian, made without gelatin. After a burger, though, I routinely want to leave dessert out of it. I ordinarily want to make out in elevators. I usually just want to scurry off into the night with that last note on my brain.

Village Whiskey, 118 South 20th St.

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