Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No. 15: Room 39's veggie burger

Posted By on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Just as messy as meat -- and just as satisfying.
  • Just as messy as meat -- and just as satisfying.
Just as messy as meat -- and just as satisfying.
To whet your appetite for The Pitch's annual Best of Kansas City issue, we're counting down our favorite Top 50 dishes each weekday until October 7.

Popeye has spinach, Don Draper has bourbon, and vegetarians around here have the veggie burger at Room 39 (1719 West 39th Street, 816-753-3939; also in Leawood). The restaurant's menu says the house-made burger consists of "bulgur wheat, black beans and vegetables." What's really in it, though, is much more complex and substantial: equality.

In a city of carnivores, this hearty gift to herbivores is equal in taste and heft to the thickest, juiciest hamburger. Which makes your hunger for it equal to any meat eater's bloodlust. At last -- parity.

And it's every bit as properly messy as your tablemate's hunk of steer. Just look at that photo -- you gotta slice this mother in half to deal with it, and even then it's far from dainty. Which is the point. Burgers may look portable, but they're supposed to be big and sloppy (and unphotogenic).

Order it with cheddar. It doesn't come with ketchup or mustard, and you won't need them. The red-pepper aioli brings out the flavor and texture of the burger (and the bun) without an assist. Besides, adding a primary color to the earth tones on this plate would only be crass. (Put ketchup on your bread plate for the fries, which are among the city's very best.)

In the years since The Pitch named this Kansas City's best fake burger, in 2007, the sandwich has only gotten better, but it's still available only at lunch (for an affordable $7). Fair enough: The soul can absorb just so much salvation at a time.


Our list so far:

No. 50: Chocolate Malt from Fox's Drug Store

No. 49: Il Parma from Bella Napoli

No. 48: Italian sausage and eggs from Cascone's Grill

No. 47: Orange Roll from Clock Tower Bakery

No. 46: Tacos de cochinita from Frida's Contemporary Mexican Cuisine

No. 45: Barbecued pork bun from 888 International Market

No. 44: Tableside fresh mozzarella from Jasper's

No. 43: Gyro Sandwich from Mr. Gyros Greek Food & Pastry

No. 42: Apple strudel from Grunauer

No. 41: Rice noodle bowl from dim sum at Bo Lings

No. 40: E-Crush from Hi-Hat Coffee

No. 39: Flight of Freshness from Fresher than Fresh Snow Cones

No. 38: Curried chicken salad from Cafe Provence

No. 37: Apple fritter from John's Space Age Donuts

No. 36: Pollo con limone e olive from Lidia's Kansas City

No. 35: Wedding-cake cookie from LattéLand

No. 34: Stroud's cinnamon rolls

No. 33: Smoked Polish from Werner's

No. 32: Burger and frites from Westport Cafe & Bar

No. 31: Paletas from Paleterias Tropicana

No. 30: Goat korma at New Cafe Tandoor

No. 29: Lemon cake from Café Europa

No. 28: Chocolate Mousse Torte from Napoleon Bakery

No. 27: Spring rolls from Vietnam Cafe 

No. 26: French fries from LC's Bar-B-Q

No. 25: Classic Cookie's herbed-potato-and-sausage casserole

No 24: Farmer greens salad at The Farmhouse

No. 23: Egg salad sandwich from You Say Tomato

No. 22: Waldorf Salad from Bloomsbury Bistro

No. 21: Pork tenderloin sandwich from Kitty's Cafe

No. 20: Root beer from Mugs Up Drive In

No. 19: Flank steak sandwich from Happy Gillis

No. 18: Chicken Picatta from the Hereford House

No. 17: Mom's Macaroni and Cheese from McCoy's Public House

No. 16: Fried green tomato salad from Café Roux

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