The Pitcher and Piano in Tunbridge Wells is local to me, so I’ve tried most of the vegetarian items on the menu – including, of course, their veggie burger. This happens to be a tomato, houmous, and sweetcorn burger, served with (according to the menu) goat’s cheese rarebit, tomato, lettuce, and Russian dressing. On the occasion I’ll be describing here, I also had pan fried halloumi and chilli oil, as well as a delicious milkshake. The burger on its own costs £8.50, and is served with chunky fries, as you can see below.
We had quite a bit of problems with our order in the first place, but as these were put right by a manager who offered us a fully satisfying solution, I won’t go into them here. It is something to be wary of, simply because the staff turnover seems to be quite high. Of course, I can’t say if that’s the same at other Pitcher and Piano branches! The burger came in a brioche bun which was presented a bit shabbily – the yellow patch that you can see in the images is the place where the bun must have been connected to another, and the inside of the bun has been revealed where they were torn away. There is also a good amount of red onion and some straggly iceberg lettuce in the bun, as well as a gherkin and tomato slice which I removed before eating it. The portion of chips that comes with it is simply adequate, so in this case I was glad to have ordered the halloumi side. I was a little full before finishing the meal, but without the side I think I might not have been satisfied.
Onto the burger itself: to start with, I’ll say that I did enjoy it, although that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few things wrong with it. I’m telling you I enjoyed it right now so that you don’t think I only have negative views, which is something that you might think after reading what I’m about to say next. The burger itself was just alright, not spectacular, and I failed to really discern the elements which are described in the name on the menu. The brioche bun was very nice and went well with the overall flavours, as well as adding a nice crispy texture on the outside. The Russian dressing was really delicious, as it is quite similar to thousand island dressing, and also worked well in this combination. However… I really hate it when people put that awful shredded lettuce into burgers, because frankly, it’s just messy. What you want in a burger is something that won’t fall out of the sides every time that you try to take a bit. The goat’s cheese, I’m afraid, was completely non existent, at least in terms of taste; I didn’t see any physical evidence of it being there either, but I suppose they may have cooked it to the point where it was undetectable.
The chips were just normal chips, and the red paper that they use under their meals – including other dishes, such as the burrito – is a horrible choice. It shreds into tiny pieces when it gets the slightest bit wet, and tears at the slightest provocation, meaning that you will need to check while eating to ensure that you aren’t picking up bits of it on your fork. What’s more, the dishes they use are ridiculous: I couldn’t cut up my houmous on its plate because it was curved at the edges, and I actually even struggled to get my hands under the burger next to the rim of that plate. As you can see from the images they have a very basic and “vintage” style, but they are frankly just unnecessarily difficult to use.
The houmous was only evident in the barest traces, a problem that is found all too regularly with burgers like this. Generally speaking, the drink was the best part of the meal (I had two), and that’s not what I normally say when I’m eating a veggie burger. Again, don’t get me wrong – I liked eating it. I just don’t think it measured up to my expectations, and it could definitely be improved.
On the VegBurge scale, I give this…
Taste – 7/10
Price – 7/10
Rest of experience – 6/10