This story is about the much ballyhooed and perhaps somewhat overhyped Impossible Burger; the burger that’s not a burger but promises to taste like a burger.
The folks at Impossible Foods (yup, their real name) wanted to find a way to make a non-meat product that tastes like the real thing from cows.
A lot of the hype is around the fact that it also allegedly “bleeds” to give the appearance of undercooked (and potentially dangerous to eat) hamburgers, as we know from outbreaks of E. coli infections linked to ground beef.
To me, this is the product’s gimmick — and perhaps a way to lure a lifelong meat-eating companion to give it a try.
What should really matter is: Does it taste good? And how close does it in fact come to mimicking the real deal?
To answer the first question, with which I have a fair amount of experience as “mostly vegetarian,” I’d say it’s more tasty than a Gardenburger. A true taste test would require side-by-side sampling.
Now to the second question: Is it a poseur or a true rival to a hamburger? For the answer, I turned to two meat-eating colleagues.
“A blind test could have fooled me,” reporter Evan Thompson said. “Unlike other vegetarian burgers I’ve had, this one has a straight-off-the-grill taste and was surprisingly delicious.”
Judge No. 2 was business reporter Janice Podsada, who previously lived in Omaha (by some tellings, the beef capital of the nation).
Every couple of months, she said, she gets a craving for a hamburger — usually a fast-food type — that pairs pickles, a slice of tomato and a thick layer of ketchup.
So when asked to try a vegan burger, she said she was glad to go but wasn’t sure she would leave satisfied.
“I haven’t eaten a hamburger since July — and I was due,” she said.
“First, and this is important, the patty had that nice gray-brown hue that says cover me in condiments,” she said. “I tried a bit of bare burger and discovered it tasted pretty darn good. Even the texture was true to form, a combination of chewy and crunchy but with no gristle. The bun was good, too.
“When I added the lettuce, tomato, pickles and a big dose of ketchup, I couldn’t tell that I wasn’t eating a hamburger.”
Janice’s conclusion: If you’re vegan/vegetarian curious but don’t think you could give up fast-food burgers, the Impossible Burger may be the answer.
And now, on to what it’s made of: leghemoglobin, or legume hemoglobin found in soy, according to Impossible Foods.
The company says that the plant-based hemoglobin carries heme, an iron-containing molecule that “makes meat taste like meat.” Thus, its burgers have a meaty flavor.
The burger is available at more than 5,000 restaurants around the world. Locally, these include Anthony’s Woodfire Grill and Sol Food in Everett, Ram Restaurant & Brewery in Marysville and the Baked Cafe on Camano Island.
The burgers all three of us tried came from Everett’s Evergreen Lanes, where they have been on the menu about six months and “have been pretty popular,” our server said.
At Evergreen Lanes, look for it under the “gourmet burgers” section of the menu. It comes with lettuce, tomato, pickles and eggless mayonnaise ($14.99 with fries). Evergreen might want to consider offering it on a whole grain bun, but that’s a small aside.
Fortunately for me, it was well-cooked, so it came without the aforementioned faux “blood,” which to my eyes would have been very unappetizing.
The nutritional information provided by the company says that when served it has 290 calories, 27 grams of protein, 14 grams of saturated fat and 580 milligrams of sodium (the recommended daily allowance is less than 2,300 milligrams per day).
For comparison, Burger King reports its hamburger has 240 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 380 milligrams of sodium and 13 grams of protein.
|Nutritional information||Impossible Burger||Burger King hamburger|
|Grams of protein||27||13|
|Grams of saturated fat||14||3.5|
|Sodium||580 milligrams||380 milligrams|
The company notes that every place it’s served at will have a different variations on condiments and other add-ons, which will modify the nutritional information. Anthony’s Woodfire Grill, for example, has it on its lunch menu fixed with mayo, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, balsamic reduction and Cougar Gold cheese and served with sweet potato fries for $16.
So all in all: An interesting addition to local restaurant menus. My votes: Worthy of all the hype? Maybe. Worth a try? Why not? At least two hard-to-impress meat-eaters were impressed.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
Evergreen Lanes & Restaurant is at 5111 Claremont Way, Everett. The restaurant opens daily at 8 a.m. and closes at 11:30 p.m. Monday, at 11 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, at 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 9 p.m. on Sundays. Its menu is available at www.evergreenbowling.com/restaurant-n-lounge. Call 425-259-7206.