Towards the end of 2017 I agreed to a two-week vegan challenge with my friend. She had just watched ‘Cowspiracy’ on Netflix and was experiencing the after effects of having a perspective of reality slap her across the face. It was decided, she was going vegan and I was joining her in the quest. Months later, our vegan days well and truly behind us (she couldn’t help it, she just really wanted that lamb roast) I decided this weekend to check out ‘Temple of Seitan’ in Hackney.
I’d heard rumblings about it for some time, the vegan chicken burger joint that had taken over a butchery, to much hype and queues out the door. During my two weeks of veganism I’d planned to go, and now many months later, after hearing about them opening a new sit-down space in Camden, I finally decided to bite the proverbial bullet and check it out.
The Hackney shop is a small space with a long queue, the queue moves quickly though. When it’s my turn I order the Temple burger (£6) – Crispy fillet, bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickles with ranch mayo, and upgrade to the meal deal of chips and cola (£2). I’m pleased to see the chips are chips (what else would they be I guess), but disappointed to see that the cola is well, Cola, ‘the coke alternative for conscious people that want to drink bad things but stick it to the man’. I’d choose old-fashioned teeth rotting, corporate conglomerate Coca Cola any day, but that’s just me.
First impressions – the packaging is cute, I like the little crosses, snakes and skulls on the paper, and while I really don’t like the taste of Cola, I am somewhat excited by the fact that it’s a miniature can. (I’m one of those people that get excited by the mini booze and mixer bottles on the airplane).
The chips are good, hot, fresh and crunchy, though I’m sitting outside, so the icy wind quickly changes that. The thing that I’m not sure about, is the one thing I want to like. Unfortunately, there is something depressingly underwhelming about eating a chicken burger that isn’t chicken, with bacon that isn’t bacon and cheese that isn’t cheese. I do like the pickle and the ranch dressing adds a nice tang. It’s not that it’s bad per se, so much as I struggle to come to terms in my mind with what it is. Literally, what am I eating? The bacon I find the most confounding, not being a bacon eater in the first place. I really wonder the necessity of having ‘I don’t know what’ masquerading as fake bacon that I don’t generally crave to eat in the first place. The crispy fillet is genuinely crispy though, I like something with crunch, I’ll give them that.
To be fair, I’m not their demographic. I’m not a vegan, not even vegetarian, and I don’t deal with the daily frustrations of not eating half the food on the planet.
If I were to choose not to eat chicken though, I don’t think I would choose fake chicken as the alternative. I think I’d have a field mushroom instead.
What do you think?
Temple of Camden
103a Camley Street
N1C 4PF, UK
Temple of Hackney
10 Morning Lane
E9 6NA, UK