This is a tale of a restaurant that does almost everything right. Built in a resurrected old theater, Mohawk Bend prides itself on good drinks and locally sourced, organic bar food. The menu is built to please everyone. Gluten-free? No problem. Vegan? No worries. Dairy free? They got you. They’ve got munchies that suit any dietary need. Why? Because their pride and joy is the bar and they want you to hang out as long as possible. Mohawk Bend was built on fiery strong concoctions that will part your hair neatly down the middle and singe the ends. Even their homemade ginger beer will light a fire in your belly.
That being said, I should have known. I really should have known. Despite assurances to the contrary, any time a restaurant has a special notation for the NON-Vegan (N/V) things on the menu the burger isn’t going to be the highlight. It’s just not. Even if the description on paper is gorgeous, and on paper the Mohawk Burger is a supermodel: a respectable sized beef patty with arugula, parmesan, crispy pancetta, red onion, pickled chili, roasted peppers, and rosemary-garlic aioli with the option of adding gruyere, sharp cheddar, bacon or vegan cheddar (although why you would add vegan cheese to a burger is beyond me. Lactose intolerance?) on a brioche bun. Sounds fantastic right? Wrong.
Okay, okay that’s unfair. It was more like online dating. You get all psyched up to meet someone in person and you do…and you realize…this is not what you had in mind. The garlic aioli isn’t very strong, there’s no pancetta that you can discern, and there is far too much arugula. The only really fascinating part is the spicy pickled chilies and that alone does not make a sandwich. I mean, you’re not sorry you ate it, but you’re not going to call it again.
No, the lesson learned here is if you’re at a restaurant that has (N/V) on its menu I offer these four words of advice: Get The Veggie Burger. Trust me. If the establishment you’re at is tip toeing around the very mention of meat, get the veggie burger. That’s where they’re putting all of their love and affection. The vegan burger at Mohawk Bend is scrumptious. It’s not very showy. Just a black bean, corn, and brown rice patty, with a thick layer of avocado, tomato, lettuce, and chipotle aioli on a whole wheat bun, but all the proportions are right, the textures are very gratifying, and the aioli is downright sassy, pulling everything together.
Wait, two lessons learned. I’m tacking another one on here. If you’re going to a place with 72 taps of beer running at one time: get the fries. Whether your bag is the comforting cheesy, gravy goodness of poutine (which they carry in vegan and non) or sweet potato fries with their transcendent maple chipotle aioli or even just regular fries which they offer seasoned with togarashi or rosemary gremolata, you will not be sorry. Whatever you do, do not settle for the coleslaw. The coleslaw is a disgrace. I can’t believe they put it on the side of every burger. Watered down cabbage with no spices to speak of? Mohawk, you can do better! How can you put such love and energy into your fries and ignore your other sides? I think your chefs need to go visit Golden State and get a lesson in how great cabbage can truly be. Nobody puts coleslaw in the corner.
– Molly Bergen