A few months ago I admitted having never eaten at the Pied Piper Eatery. In the intervening time, I read this account of a visit by Eric and Katie where the vegetarian distaff half of the reviewing team was actually fooled into almost sending her vegetarian burger back to the kitchen because she thought it was made of meat. So in honor of Meatless Monday, I thought I'd check this beet burger out. Because after all, I'm not an occasional vegetarian because I love animals. I'm an occasional vegetarian because I really hate plants.
I invited a few friends to join me on this trip from the Mainland to the People's Republic of East Nashville. Ironically, the two folks that actually lived over there said, "Err...thanks, but no thanks," but my full-on carnivore buddy who used to own his own bbq joint was anxious to try out the Piper's fare.
We'd been prepped to order the onion rings and were not disappointed. Until a few hours later, but that's another story. (And my own damned fault. When am I going to learn that as much as I love deep friend Vidalias, the feeling isn't mutual?) But we were there for the Bonnaroo Burger.
The burger selection at Pied Piper is extensive, though some permutations seem to have been invented just to satisfy another cute rock n' roll punny name. All of them are available as vegetarian options, so I opted for the Philadelphia Freedom Burger. Because what's not to love about Swiss cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms on a kaiser roll?
Visually, I have to admit the illusion was pretty striking. Cutting into the burger, I was confronted with what looked pretty much like a medium rare beef patty, and I ain't skeered of no medium rare beef no matter what those pansies at the FDA might say. The consistency of the rice, mushroom and beet concoction was a little mealier than a real hamburger,but still palatable. The beets added the pinkish color element to the meat mirage, but did not offer the binding characteristics or mouth feel that would have completed the disguise.
From a flavor standpoint, the Bonnaroo Burger held up fairly well. The ginger and soy glaze was pleasant and reminiscent of a teriyaki burger, but the slight metallic tang of Liquid Smoke left an aftertaste like there was a penny under my tongue. Still, it was a much better experience than the feeling of self-loathing that washes over me after a late night four-bagger of Krystals.
Was I fooled into thinking I was eating meat? No. But as an alternative to another artery-clogging gut bomb, Pied Piper Eatery is worth the drive across town. As I approach middle age and start hunting for a General Practitioner with dainty, slender fingers, every little beet helps.