A vegan burger that looks, smells and tastes just like beef? A meatless burger that will fool even the most hardcore meat eaters? That’s what the Bill Gates-backed, San Francisco-developed Impossible Burger has been touted as by many. I’d seen many Instagram photos and blog posts by people who had eaten the burger. Photos of bloody, medium rare patties that contained no beef followed by comments like ‘tastes just like the real thing’ and ‘my other half hates veggie burgers and he loved it’. The hype surrounding the Impossible Burger is quite unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before and I couldn’t wait to try it for myself.
As someone who has adopted a plant-based diet several times in the past, I’ve had my fair share of bad veggie burgers, rubbery faux meat products and awful vegan ‘cheese’, but I was ready for the Impossible Burger to blow my mind.
Let’s be clear: the Impossible Burger is a scientific marvel. It’s only available at certain restaurants throughout the US and for our taste-test, we went to Bare Burger. As standard, the burger comes served with American cheese, lettuce, stout onions, dill pickles and burger sauce on a brioche bun. I was in awe of it as soon as it arrived at our table. It looked like a real, beefy, juicy burger sitting in front of me and I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t actually meat. I sliced it in half and yes, it was actually bloody on the inside just as I’d seen so many times on Instagram. It smelled incredible too – like a real burger. And the addition of all of the other toppings like the sauce and onions really added to the experience. Before taking my first bite, I asked myself: was this the end of meat burgers? Is the Impossible Burger going to change the world? That is how fantastic this thing looked and smelled. I was convinced that this was amazing before I’d even taken a bite.
But then I did take a bite.
Right away, the burger sauce, onions, cheese and salad made this a very familiar burger experience – but something felt off. The toppings all made for a nice combination, but where was the ‘beef’? I was struggling to taste much of anything other than sauce, onions and bread. I thought that maybe there was too much on the burger so I decided to slice a bit of the patty off and try it on its own. On its own the patty just tasted very bland. It was strange – wheat-y, overly salty. To be honest, it tasted like a really crappy burger patty – and not even a ‘real’ one at that. I got the impression that the best way to hide the fact that this doesn’t taste all that good is to just smother it with sauce, cheese and other toppings – but even then, with all of the toppings I struggled to taste the patty at all.
I felt that I should have loved this burger – almost like I was supposed to. I’d read so much about it and bought into lots of the hype before even trying it that I almost talked myself into the burger being good before I’d even tasted it. With each bite and the more I picked at the burger and put the hype to one side – still amazed by how real, beefy and bloody it looked, I started to wonder what the hell I was actually eating. The burger is made from potato protein, soy protein isolate, konjac gum, leghemoglobin, coconut oil and a few other things that give it that incredible texture and bloody appearance. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all a bit unnecessary. I was left wishing I’d went to By Chloe on Bleecker Street or Superiority Burger for a proper veggie burger. Just a couple of days prior to trying the Impossible Burger, I ate two veggie burgers in the city that completely wipe the floor with this one. One was only $6 and BOTH were made from beans, vegetables, grains and other good stuff. In fact, one of them was easily the best veggie burger I’ve ever eaten and this Impossible Burger paled in comparison.
I know what you’re thinking. “The burger guy slates the vegan burger, what a shocker”. Despite what you may think, I do love vegan food and wanted to love this burger too. It’s easy to say that I’m biased or that I have an agenda. I was even recently called “morally repugnant” on Instagram by an angry follower who was upset that I dared to post a photo of a salmon katsu curry just days after I’d enjoyed a tofu hot dog. But that’s not the case. I love veggie burgers and sometimes I’ll choose them over a meat option. We could all stand to eat less meat – but give me a good old fashioned bean and vegetable burger over this any day of the week.
Price: $13.95. Sides extra.
THE JUICY BITS
+ Looks incredible. A scientific marvel.
– Bland flavour
– Too salty
– Leghemoglobin? Just give me a good bean burger, please.
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