Sauce on Hampton

Continuing our comparison shopping for veggie burgers, we visited Sauce on Hampton (259 Hampton Dr., on Rose, one block east of Main Street in Venice). As with Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers (see June 13 review), the menu offers a variety of preparation options that correspond to the choices for the various meat patties; we chose Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms for one, grilled zucchini and avocado for the other. Both were served on a toasted but soft whole-grain roll with tomato, spinach, red onions, house-made aioli, and Dijon mustard, as well as a too-sweet Thousand Island-style dressing on the side. Sad to say, in both cases the unexceptional Gardenburger patty was so heavily charred on the grill that all the other flavors shrank into the background. The carrot-ginger soup, a seasonal special, was strangely bland, in desperate need of some salt. The roasted Yukon potatoes, at least, were delicious, golden on the outside and tender on the inside. More striking still was our appetizer, pizzadilla, a spinach flour tortilla baked to create the thinnest, lightest, crispest pizza crust we have ever had, one that still managed to maintain its chewiness. It was topped with a savory, slightly spicy layer of chimichurri, a green sauce made of chopped parsley, garlic, and chili flakes; sautéed mushrooms; Parmesan; and (invisible?) mozzarella (we’re going by the menu here). If only our burgers had lived up to that promising beginning. The dessert was another disappointment, a couple of insanely rich chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies sandwiching two scoops of lackluster vanilla ice cream, not difficult to finish but hardly worth the calories. The memorable pizzadilla left us thinking that, when he tries, the chef at Sauce can astonish, but for vegetarians this promising eatery is still a work in progress.

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