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Monday, June 29, 2009

City of Burgers: The Scream-Free Plant Burger

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Come here expecting some sturdy simulacrum of the BOCA, and you're likely to leave pissed. The Embarcadero branch of the Plant opened last Thursday in Pier Three, a stunning, leafy Cass Calder Smith-designed space that brings together the treehugger and the modernist over fresh plates of California café cooking. Sit at one of the teak tables fronting the murky, bottle-green bay, in view of the trucks lazily making their way across the bridge in the distance, and you can feel like a genuine tourist in your own city.

Back to that burger. Like its cousin at the original Plant at Steiner and Chestnut, it's a concoction of lentils, ground mushrooms, beets, cashews, and bulgur, patted into a soft, friable disc, as darkly pink as red velvet cake. In other words, a burger in gesture only (it's even slapped between sliced bread, not a bun) and clammy and a tad mushy to boot. But in classic veggie-burger style, it's the everything else that makes a passable simulacrum out of even the miserable BOCA. In this case, avo slices, cheese (we went for white cheddar), and vividly sweet roasted onion did more than merely suggest burger-ness. And we have to admit it made us feel virtuous, in spite of - or maybe because of -- its diffuse vegetal flavors and rusky fibers. At least nothing died to produce it, or audibly screamed, anyway. There's something to be said for that.

The Plant Cafe Organic Pier Three, The Embarcadero, 984-1962.

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