Impossible Burger Comes to Portland

I have heard so many good things about Impossible Burger, which is a genetically engineered burger patty that is completely vegan – basically “meat” from plants, and been curious for quite a while. With vegetarian F, I’ve tasted many a vegetarian burger, and it is usually a sad, mushy, dry, not much flavor state of affairs. Impossible Burger though, is different – it’s supported by multiple fine dining restaurants in food meccas like New York, Las Vegas, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and even Texas at high caliber restaurants like Momofuku, Saxon + Parole, Umami Burger, and more. And now Impossible Burger has comes to Portland. Here’s a list of where and my thoughts on the Impossible Burger

Impossible Burger - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat Impossible Burger - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat

Through a collaboration with scientists, engineers, chefs, farmers, foodies, and more in a Silicon Valley startup lab, Impossible Foods has been exploring how to create healthy, sustainable foods using only plants while still delivering on the experience with the original (in this case, beef). The Impossible Burger, Impossible Foods’ first product, promises the meat burger experience but uses about 95% less land, 74% less water, and produces 87% the greenhouse gas emissions.

I went to the launch party of Impossible Burgers – I wasn’t paid to write this post, I just have had this conversation multiple times at this point and might as well share it with all of you on the web too. Of the 5 burgers I tried, I did notice the texture on the outside is improved in that it can get that firmness on the outside of the burger similar to what you would get from a griddle a meat patty. It’s not going to be as extra crispy of a dark crust as you can get from those thin burger/smash burgers, but it can get some of that texture, and even get some craggy edges while still being juicy. This makes it visually appear pretty much like meat.
Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat. Imperial will serve the burger with smoked mushrooms, beer cheese sauce, bread & butter pickles, tomato, and Imperial secret sauce on a housemade brioche bun. Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat. Imperial will serve the burger with smoked mushrooms, beer cheese sauce, bread & butter pickles, tomato, and Imperial secret sauce on a housemade brioche bun.

The inside is slightly softer then that of a hand formed beef burger which we have been spoiled with in Portland as there are so many great burgers available in PDX. But, the texture is comparable to a normal burger cooked medium well, and better then you would get from the fast food chain burger or any restaurant that doesn’t make it’s own patty.

Uncooked, it looks pretty much like a meat burger with it’s pinkness, so depending on how you cook it you can still get a little bit of pink inside visually or completely brown it as much as you want when cooking.

Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat

Ignore all the marketing spin or media references to it bleeding – it doesn’t, just like regular burgers don’t bleed. What it does have though is similar to how in beef there are iron containing molecules (myoglobin), the lab has literally engineered for the Impossible Burger a version of it (soy leghemoglobin). This is what they say differentiates Impossible Burger from vegan or vegetarian versions and makes Impossible Burger seem meatier in terms of texture, aroma, even the sizzle when it cooks.
Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat

The way when you are cooking meat and juices come out? Which by the way is not blood, even though it may appear red colored early on? That’s the myoglobin. The Impossible Burger also sweats some juice when cooking. Well as you can deduct, that’s the soy leghemoglobin. This is also is why the burger itself is more juicy then other vegan and vegetarian burgers. So we’re talking about iron-containing molecules that can have a red color, not actual blood.
Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat

If you are looking for a super juicy medium rare burger, when it comes down to it, Impossible Burger is not meat and won’t taste 100% like meat. But, besides being better for the environment, consider that it has zero cholesterol, and less calories. Admittedly though, because it is processed and has preservatives, the burger does have more saturated fat and sodium. But, it also doesn’t have the risk of red meat. So overall, Impossible Burger is the better for the world and better healthwise for you way to enjoy a fancy burger.

Here in Portland, you can now find Impossible Burger at multiple restaurants in PDX, and the list of restaurants is impressive. There are currently 7 restaurants as of this post, but see the Impossible Burger Find Us list for the most updated roster.

  • James Beard winning chef Vitaly Paley will have the Impossible Burger at 3 of his locations
    • Imperial will serve the burger with smoked mushrooms, beer cheese sauce, bread & butter pickles, tomato, and Imperial secret sauce on a housemade brioche bun. This was my personal favorite, but I love the slather of beer cheese sauce and the smoked mushrooms, though this is a pretty messy sandwich.
      Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat. Imperial will serve the burger with smoked mushrooms, beer cheese sauce, bread & butter pickles, tomato, and Imperial secret sauce on a housemade brioche bun.
    • Headwaters will serve the burger with sweet soy glaze, house kimchi, pickled carrot and cucumber, and yuzu kosho aïoli on a black sesame bun. The banh mi inspired toppings gives a refreshing bite to this burger.
      Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat. Headwaters will serve the burger with sweet soy glaze, house kimchi, pickled carrot and cucumber, and yuzu kosho aïoli on a black sesame bun.
    • Paley’s Place will serve the burger with pickled vegetables, mustard aïoli, caramelized onions, and house ketchup on a housemade brioche bun. That housemade brioche button has lots and lots of butter and is rich even though it sounds simple.
      Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat. Paley’s Place will serve the burger with pickled vegetables, mustard aïoli, caramelized onions, and house ketchup on a housemade brioche bun.
  • At SuperBite, the acclaimed restaurant from 2017 James Beard Award winners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, you can find the Impossible Burger on a homemade sesame seed bun with “Fancy Sauce,” shredded iceberg lettuce, Grandma Agnes’ pickles, minced onion, and cheddar and fontina cheeses with a side of French fries. This is possibly a limited time offer – Superbite will be closing and replaced with their new concept Bistro Agnes after New Year’s Eve. However, perhaps the burger will still remain since it does have Grandma Agnes’ pickles already

    Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat. At Superbite / Bistro Agnes you can find the Impossible Burger on a homemade sesame seed bun with “Fancy Sauce,” shredded iceberg lettuce, Grandma Agnes’ pickles, minced onion, and cheddar and fontina cheeses with a side of French fries
  • Sarah Schafer’s Irving Street Kitchen the burger will be presented on all menus (brunch/lunch, dinner and happy hour) as a Double Stack Impossible Cheeseburger with shaved sour pickles, Iceberg lettuce, Russian-aise, Cajun fries & whiskey ketchup.

  • Chef Chris Cosentino’s Jackrabbit burger will be served on a ciabatta bun, aioli, iceberg, pickles, dijon, gruyere, and caramelized onions, and is served with a salad with lemon vinaigrette. Cosentino was one of the first to serve the Impossible Burger, which debuted at his San Francisco restaurant Cockscomb one year ago. Of all the 5 burgers F and I tried, this was F’s favorite because it didn’t have so many toppings that it overwhelmed the burger. I thought the bun was too much, but this burger also had the best texture with the way they griddled it and hid some of the “softer then real meat” texture well because of the caramelized onions.
    Impossible Burger comes to Portland - meat from plants, a vegan plant based burger to replace meat. Chef Chris Cosentino's Jackrabbit burger will be served on a ciabatta bun, aioli, iceberg, pickles, dijon, gruyere, and caramelized onions, and is served with a salad with lemon vinaigrette.
  • At The Original Dinerant, try the Impossible Burger in the form of the OG! Patty Melt.

If you are a vegetarian or omnivore, you should try the burger and decide on your own. If you are vegan, as you probably noticed the burgers being served by the restaurants are not vegan, even though the patty is, so you will have to request that they make it vegan for you (most will). Do be aware that Impossible Foods did do some testing with rats in testing their soy leghemoglobin, so that may be a dealbreaker for some of you. Ultimately, I believe the goal is to try to convert more regular omnivores to try a meat alternative and that you can enjoy a good burger without it being meat. It’s about trying to reduce though not necessarily completely replace meat consumption and raise awareness.

Now if only Impossible Foods could work on a vegetarian version of a steak, that would be great.

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Comments

  1. I was so sad I had to miss this! The burgers from Imperial and Irving Street Kitchen look soooo yummy. They all do. I must try them all!

  2. Their vegan burger looks delicious. Maybe I could even get my husband to eat one on his meat-free Friday.

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful review. I’m afraid I have to take issue with the statement that the Impossible product is “better for the environment”. A lab made product may be better for the environment than commodity beef, but the best thing we can actually do for the environment is to support ranchers practicing regenerative agricultural practices. You can find many of those folks suppying pasture raised meats and grassfed beef in Oregon. By tending to they’re land they’re actually improving the environment, creating carbon stores and producing a healthy product. The very act of keeping them in business means you’re contributing to the health of your community and environment. I should also point out that the redness in these burgers is the result of a GMO process that has only been deemed “generally regarded as safe” so we don’t know what long term effects it has on our bodies. Thanks for reading & sharing your experience!

    • I agree that the better for the environment statement is specifically in reference to comparing with industrial beef sourcing and not local sustainable ranchers.

  4. Oh my GOSH! I have been so curious about this and I didn’t realize so many restaurants in Portland had added this to their menus! I think I will have to start with Imperial’s burger first, it just sounds delicious, and beer cheese *drool*!

  5. Wow that sounds pretty good! You have a lot of great information in this post, thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  6. OH wow- this burger looks so good. I’m a big burger fan and so is Drew. We may have to give this place a try.

  7. Those are some good restaurants, bet their versions are delicious!

  8. I’ve heard great things about the Impossible Burger too – You give such an in depth review of the patty itself and I appreciate that Pech! Can’t wait to try it for myself.

  9. I replied on Twitter but will comment here, too. It will be interesting to see how this catches on in a town that is veg/vegan friendly, and how meat-like that cohort likes their veggie burger. I’m definitely curious, even as a happy omnivore. I appreciate your assessment of the Impossible Burger, Pech!

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