I’ll freely admit that I’m a sucker for internet hype. Internet hype is what led me to buy things such as my original Pebble Time. Internet hype is what made me go out of my way to track down a neck pillow that looked like a shrimp.
The whole concept of the Impossible Burger intrigued me as soon as I heard about it. I’d never particularly liked the variations of vegetarian meat I’ve tried, so I was understandably curious about this plant-based patty that promised to taste, and “bleed”, like beef.
If you’d like to learn more about how that works, Wired has an article that can explain it better than I ever could.
So when I saw that it was on the menu of a restaurant I was going to visit, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to feed my curiosity.
Is it immediately obvious as an imitator?
No, not really. Part of this is down to the restaurant’s preparation, but more on that later. Sandwiched between two buns, a slice of cheese and the standard trimmings was a bumpy brown disk that didn’t look any more different than your run of the mill beef patty.
What about when you take a bite?
Yeah, the illusion is broken, but far less than I expected. The flavor is surprisingly close to a classic cheeseburger, and it’s fairly juicy, too.
The thing that stood out to me the most, however, was the crust. It’s not something that most of us think about when we eat burgers, but this was an exception.
What the crust offered was a nuance in both flavor and texture that goes a long way in helping this patty feel like a real burger. You get the smokiness of a nice char, and a satisfying crispiness to offset the softness of the patty.
Combine that with the actual taste of the patty, this could almost pass for a normal, beef-based burger, if not for one aspect.
The thing that really threw me off was the texture. In terms of structural integrity, it’s a bit mushier than a beef burger. It breaks up a little easier in your mouth, which is kind of reminiscent of an under-cooked burger. Some of the little particles that make up the patty were also a bit spongy.
It’s a noticeable enough difference that in a blind taste test I could probably point it out, but in all honesty it would take me a minute while I tried to work out what was so “off” about it.
I’ve recently become a vegetarian. Will this fill the cheeseburger shaped hole in my heart?
I struggled a bit to find an answer to this, but in the end, it probably will.
While the texture might throw you off (especially if you try the patty on its own), pair it with the classic lettuce, tomato, onion and quality bun, and the Impossible Burger will do the job.
In my mouth, and in my hands, this plant-based patty didn’t deviate too far from its beef-based cousin. Texture aside, it just tastes like a burger, and at no point did I find myself wishing I’d ordered a “real burger” instead.
Who is this for?
My take is that this is for long-time carnivores who are going vegetarian, or for normal carnivores just looking for a plant-based meal. For some people, such as myself, being able to taste a good piece of meat is part of what makes transitioning to a plant-based diet such a difficult choice.
Is this just a novelty driven hype train?
The cynic in me is inclined to say yes, but I sincerely hope that it isn’t the case. The fact of the matter is that I would order this again if given the opportunity, and if more and more products like this come to the market, it could incentivize the switch to a vegetarian diet for a lot of individuals.
Hey, thanks for reading! This is my first attempt at doing longer-form food writing, and I’m thinking about doing some more food/restaurant pieces in the future. Feel free to let me know what you think by dropping me a line on Twitter!