Tony's Market serves up Qrunch burgers for vegetarian palates

The bistro at the Tony's Market at 950 Broadway is a sweet little restaurant tucked inside a busy gourmet grocery store. You might not expect such a place to cater to vegetarian and vegan needs -- but you'd be wrong. The staff is well-versed in food preferences -- and they even have the ability to denote allergies on their POS system to insure that potential allergens don't cross-contaminate your food.

Lunchtime is the busiest time in the bistro; you might need to wait for a while before you find a table in the midst of the suited and heeled businesspeople seeking a quick bite before heading back to the daily grind. Seats closer to the window offer a front-row view of the passing Broadway scene, but there's also a cozy back room for small meetings, and the tables lining the wall are placed far enough apart for an intimate one-on-one conversation.

The Qrunch burger is a fairly new addition to the menu (which also lists a grilled portabello sandwich if you prefer mushrooms). Made from quinoa, millet and assorted vegetables, the patty is dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, corn-free, gluten-free -- but doesn't taste like it's lacking anything. A little time on the grill gives the burger the phonetic "crunch" in its name, and this sample didn't need any more dressing up than the addition of some fresh lettuce, tomato and red onion.

You can get fries or a salad on the side (the bistro's great onion rings are extra), and since it is early January, we went with a salad. This being Tony's, all the ingredients were fresh and delicious. But vegans will want to nix the goat cheese and listen carefully to the assortment of dressings, because there are some really spectacular options (apple vinaigrette, for example).

The bistro is open starting at 11 a.m. for lunch; visit www.tonysmarket.com for information.

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