Hungry for some good gluten, Gothamist booked it to the three-month-old Kate’s Brooklyn Joint in Williamsburg, an outpost of the East Village mainstay.
Despite its vibrant grafitti façade, Kate’s is a dismal sort of place. The restaurant’s gloomy flooring and rhythmically flickering lights recall the lesser charms of an auto body shop. It’s aggressively without frills but that’s fine by us—the food, for Billyburg vegans anyway, makes decent work of picking up the slack.
There are seldom few items that don’t find their way onto Kate’s extensive menu. There are Beefless Jamaican Patties, Hummus and Disco Fries, garlicky pastas, whole grain pizzas, Tofu Teriaki, Fake Steak au Poivre and ‘Vegi’ hotdogs and hamburgers of every conceivable variety. It’s the sort of place we might have exalted so many years ago when our taste for meat was, however briefly, stemmed by a wayward PETA video of cows to the slaughter. And though our blood thirst has long since been reinstated, we’d never turn down a fine plate of seitan, if only for the sheer amazement at the strides in flavor and texture taken within the vegan/vegetarian realm.
Still, what impressed us most at Kate’s wasn’t our “Ranch Burger,” though we were pleased to detect actual vegetables cooked into the patty rather than the textureless paste to which so many veggie burgers surrender. And it certainly wasn’t the accompanying French fries or onion rings, under- and overdone respectively. It was the bread—dense slabs of wheat foccacia paired with a small pot of oil flavored with garlic and red chili flakes, or a perfectly proportioned wheat hamburger roll, lightly toasted and dotted with sesame seeds. Naturally we feel a bit of a cad doting on bread at a place that, in terms of veggie options, likely prides itself on a departure there-from. But washed down with an icy Eliada (fresh lemonade finished with raspberry puree) that bread very nearly compensated for the thick, inexorable and ultimately damning scent of fryer grease that hung enormous in the air.
Kate’s is a solid concept with little to lose in a vegan stomping ground like Williamsburg. But she’s not the only game in town. Next time, we’ll bring our yen for soy protein to one of these spots:
295 Grand Street, Brooklyn, 718-388-1919
Fast food vegan at its best, Foodswings, opened in 2004 continues to reel in neighborhood diners with succulent Southern Fried ‘chicken,’ No Meatball Parmigiana and meatless burgers that would make this chap blush. Not to be missed is the Peanut Butter Bomb, a towering vegan dessert that could easily contend with milk-based bakery fare.
212 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-218-8828
Opened in November, Wild Ginger’s pan-Asian vegan menu includes highlights like Sweet Citrus Soy Protein with kale and almonds and Zaru Soba paired with a mild wasabi dipping sauce.
191 Bedford Avenue, 718-599-2547
With its almost righteously healthy menu (featuring items like the Bliss Bowl with steamed vegetables, organic sea vegetables, sweet potatoes, a bean of the day and a choice of tofu, tempeh or soba noodles), Bliss has been faulted for being among the more uninspired options for local vegetarians. Still the ambiance—hardwood floors, exposed brick and the requisite local art—makes Bliss a more visually appealing spot for veggie fare in the neighborhood. Stick to hummus and coffee and you should come out the other side.
Now back to pulling our pork.
Kate's Brooklyn Joint
295 Berry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211