Until last summer, veggie burgers would’ve gotten you laughed out of a cookout. But then vegan darling By Chloe started turning out tempeh-lentil and mushroom-seitan burgersthat have made it a growing franchise, a former chef at perpetual critics' favorite Del Posto went vegetarian fast-casual with Superiority Burger, and then pretty much everyone followed suit. Now, Cinnamon Snail,which went from food truck to its first brick-and-mortar restaurant at Penn Station’s food hallThe Pennsy, has its own entry.
There’s no witchcraft in the Smoked Sage Seitan Burger ($12 with tax), but there is plenty of chef Adam Sobel’s philosophy on vegan food, which is to make it flavorful and exciting to people who don’t yet care about vegan food. “To do that, the food I make has to speak to the part of someone’s appetite that innately wants to enjoy the food,” he says.
If that sounds like this burger might be his version of a gateway drug, well, it kind of is. But it’s also more than that. Unlike the impossibly delicious (and probably carcinogenic) on a grilled beef patty hot off the grill, Sobel’s burger is not trying to overwhelm your senses. The smoked sage doesn’t make everything taste like a hippie’s basement. What it does, with the help of smoked chili coconut bacon and roasted garlic aioli, is add depth of flavor to the texture play going on between the pretzel buns, pleasantly al dente baked ziti, crunchy marinated kale and the patty itself, as juicy as any beef patty. It’s a little bit silly, and a lot satisfying.
The Smoked Sage Seitan Burger, along with three new sandwiches on the Snail’s recently launched summer menu, is only available at The Pennsy. Grab it with a beer inside from the food hall’s bar, or take it to its outdoor patio with covered tables and bleacher seating.