Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Battle" of the Veggie Burgers (but equally good desserts)

Zed and I stopped at High Level Diner Monday night for a quick bite to eat on our way home. There seemed to be a couple larger groups occupying the restaurant, but we were quickly seated by the window.

After Zed ordered a coffee and I an Earl Grey tea (I love how the milk is served in tiny milk bottles; it always makes me happy), we perused our menus. After a brief glance at the menu, Zed chose the Ural Burger, but looking at High Level's menu is a pointless gesture for me, as I cannot seem to leave their Veggie Burger. Made with oats, sunflower seeds, rice and other good things, it is crispy and slightly dryer than any other veggie burger I've had - topped with lettuce and bean sprouts, and encased in a whole wheat bun - it's delicious. Plus it comes with their fun and eternally good condiments, including homemade corn relish, beet relish, Dijon mustard and a home made ketchup with lots of horseradish in it (Zed doesn't appreciate any of these condiments, but that means more for me!).

Although I always enjoy the High Level veggie burger, I can't help but compare it to the Blue Plate Diner's. Full of beets, zucchini, carrots, sunflower seeds and rice, Blue Plate's burger is lovely and moist with a much richer texture than the High Level option. Topped with cheese, a herb mayo, and a very well done pickle and red onion to burger ratio, it holds it own as far as veggie burgers in Edmonton go.

I'm not sure there will ever be a clear winner. When at High Level I will always enjoy their version, and the same goes for Blue Plate. Both are made in house, and to me that means you can never really lose with either... there are far too many restaurants serving frozen, tasteless patties masquerading as veggie burgers (Watch for "Garden Patties/Burgers" or those in the "Healthy" section of menus). So I suppose the battle will rage on... but for now, I think it's a tie.

I also have to mention the desserts at both these establishments. High Level Diner with its bread pudding made of their own cinnamon buns, topped with a brown butter Bourbon sauce, it is, and was, the perfect treat during a really cold evening. Blue Plate has also created their own dessert of homey comfort - the daily crumble. Full of whatever fruit they've decided on that day (usually apple and something... our favourite is apple and sour cherry), then topped with a crispy layer of butter and oats, baked until bubbling and served with a nice scoop of Pinocchio vanilla bean, it is a killer combo. There is really no rivalry here... it all seems to depend what your sweet tooth is up to on a particular day. If you are craving something rich and sweet, head to High Level, but for a more laid back dish full of fruit, Blue Plate is the way to go.

In the end, I suppose there really isn't a "battle". If you are looking for a good veggie burger (or any burger for that matter, as Zed commented he would recommend the beef burgers at either location), and a good satisfying dessert, you really can't go wrong whether you choose High Level or Blue Plate as your destination.

High Level Diner
10912 - 88 Avenue
M-Th (8am-10pm) F (8am-11pm) S (9am-11pm) Su (9am-10pm)

Blue Plate Diner
10145 - 104 Street
M-F (11am-10pm) S (9am-10pm; brunch 9am-1pm) Su (9am-10pm; brunch 9am-2pm)

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