Oh, Hey, I Had an Impossible Burger Finally
I had it when I was in California. It was fine! And I would eat another one.
For those of you unawares of what an “Impossible Burger” is, it’s a burger made with plant-based “meat” made by Impossible Foods. It’s mostly soy and a few other ingredients, including “heme,” which is what gives it that meaty, vaguely bloody taste. The company is on iteration 2.0 of its product, which is supposed to be even meatier than the original, and various places which serve burgers are beginning to put it on the menu, most notably Burger Kings, which tested it in St. Louis earlier this year and plans to go wide with the burgers later in 2019.
Where I live is not exactly close to anyplace currently serving Impossible Burgers, but when I was in LA, I went to lunch with friends and the bistro we went to had them on the menu. So I tried it.
My verdict: on a scale of 1 to 100, where 1 was “White Castle at 1am” and 100 was “That Aussie burger I had in Melbourne that almost made me cry with its deliciousness,” this burger was a solid 45-to-50, i.e., a perfectly cromulent burger that was not particularly distinguishable from the general mass of foodstuffs that are understood to be “a burger.” It was slightly dry but not horribly so, and could have used a little more seasoning on the patty. But as part of the whole burger (including cheese lettuce, tomato and condiments), it was… perfectly fine! If I had not known it was not beef, I wouldn’t have thought it wasn’t beef. It was unremarkable in terms of a burger experience, and I suspect will get better as cooks learn how to cook the patties better.
Which I think is the whole point. At this point in time a patty made with Impossible Meat (or the fake meat from Beyond, another producer) probably isn’t going to replace your high-end angus burger made by a chef who knows what they are doing, but in a high-volume, fast-food context — say, Burger King — this is an absolutely serviceable variation. I would totally buy an Impossible Whopper without hesitation, or get an Impossible Burger when I was at Red Robin or some similar casual dining chain.
I’m not someone who is planning to go vegetarian any time soon, but I also wouldn’t have any problem switching a substantial portion of the meat I do eat to plant-based substitutes, particularly when the plant-based substitute is largely indistinguishable from the stuff made from animals. On the “ground meat” level of things, it looks like we’re mostly there already. It’s just a matter at this point of widening production and distribution.
So, yeah: I had an Impossible Burger. It was fine, and I would eat another. And I’m looking forward to them (and other similar options) becoming widespread soon.