Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In search of the perfect vegan burger: Part One - Velvet Burger

Here's another series for this blog, the search for the perfect vegan burger in Auckland.  Burgers can be good as.  They can also be disappointing.  When I was in junior high school there was a McD's just down the road, and some friends of mine would be given money everyday to buy some burgers.  Going vegan means turning our back on the most awful excuses for food that has ever been devised, like McD's.  Seriously, why do people ACTUALLY willingly pay money for such awful food.

Seriously?  Why?

There are a number of places around Auckland that do vegan burgers.  The most recently brought to my attention was a somewhat new to Auckland place called Velvet burger.  When Romelli was in Dunedin with Avalanche City earlier this year she sent me a text about a burger she bought called the Animal Rights burger from a place down there called Velvet Burger.  Her text wasn't really a celebratory text about finding a vegan burger in the South Island, it was a complaining text, because she had just unwittingly consumed some dairy/egg products with her burger.  Calling a non-vegan burger 'Animal Rights' shows a certain lack of research into your target market I think.

Dairy cows are actually also animals, which is why no one who understands animal rights consumes dairy.

The same week that the Original California Burrito Company started pumping out burritos Deirdre came home with a couple burritos and mentioned that there was now a Velvet Burger just around the corner from the burrito place.  Sometimes you receive information, which at the time seems inconsequential, but as the future arrives you realise that this information is vital for the success of your life.  For example...

By the way, Romelli has never seen Wayne's World.

As fate would have it, one Thursday night Romelli, Ariana and myself were going to pick up some dinner of burritos before an Alaska show, but our timings were all wrong and we got there just too late, the shop had closed.  Never one to be defeated when it comes to food and eating food, especially eating vegan food, I suggested that we just head over to Velvet Burger around the corner.  Burgers and fries are always worth a good pre-show filler.

Velvet Burger is located on Fort Street, near the bottom end of Queen Street.  It's in what I call, for no real reason, the backpackers quarter of town.  It's never been the nicest part of town in my books, but it's getting better.  The Animal Rights burger actually refers to three vegetarian burger options: Falafel, Tofu and Mushroom burgers, served with non-vegan aoli and pesto (I'm assuming the pesto is non-vegan, the waitress who served us seemed not to know or be too interested to ask).  We pretty much all decided on the falafel, Romelli going for the smaller vege burger option, The Wee Vegan, which also has the three burger options, but instead of having pesto and aoli comes with some hummus.  Thinking on it now, if I go there again I think I'll ask for hummus on my AR burger.

This is what tasty falafel looks like.  Interestingly enough, it's also what a semi-dry burger looks like.

The falafel at Velvet Burger is actually really good falafel.  But overall, the burger wasn't much to speak of.  I mean, falafel with some lettuce, onion and tomato with a little bit of tomato relish on a bun isn't fantastic, especially not for $12.50.  Especially not when you can go just about anywhere on Queens Street and get a more filling, more saucy kebab for like $7 or $8.  And there are some good falafel kebabs to be had in the city.  Overall verdict of the burger - doesn't rate highly on the search for the perfect vegan burger at all.

Romelli did order some chips for us to share, and they were pretty good.  But they were just chips really.  We didn't try to kumara chips, but I see that Moira from An Auckland Vegan blog (which I only found recently, and it's pretty much a blog very similar to this one.  Also met Moira randomly on the street on Saturday, she recognised me from the photos) has also done a post about Velvet burger and rated the kumara chips pretty highly.  Could be worth further investigation.  Food is always worth further investigation.

To be honest, no matter what vegan food is always pretty tasty and I'm ALWAYS happy to be eating it.

What Velvet Burger does seem to have in it's favour is that it's a good place to hang out.  This is something that most of the other burger places around town don't really have.  For those so inclined, Velvet Burger also serves some alcoholic beverages.  There is ample seating.  Unless you turn up on Thursday nights it seems, as the back section of the place was all reserved for what was either a game of Texas hold'em or some elaborate role play game that only nerdy animal rights activists in Wellington seem to play.  If you are in town late at night, at the bottom of Queen Street, and you want a burger, head to Velvet Burger.  You will get a burger.  But I'd never purposefully head down there for a burger.

And thus the search for the perfect vegan burger in Auckland continues.


  1. My favourite vegan burger is probably Al and Pete's Tofu/Satay burger. It is delicious and juicy and peanuty and goooooooood. They also do a deluxe vege burger but the Tofu one is better value and in my opinion yummier. Happy burger hunting!!

  2. Hey, are you making fun of dungeons and dragons? watch out, we are everywhere . .

    A vegan geek from Wellington

  3. I'm not making fun of dungeons and dragons Marky, I'm making fun of YOU.

  4. Nice to find a blog with good info about where to find good vegan burgers and general food...I have decided to become vegetarian and then once I feel confident enough I want to become vegan .. So tips r always welcome specially when it is so hard to find good vegan food around... and for my surprise Mike owns the blog; so it is nice to know that people who u know have choosen the same life style that u have, it is awesome to see that people who have become vegans r doing well and r having a happy and healthier life with their option.It does give me extra strength to keep me going and persuade my goal, specially when Im craving for a big chicken burger. :-)