Today, I tried my first Impossible Burger. If you're not familiar with Impossible foods, you can click on the link there or spend some time watching videos about it on YouTube. In short, it's a plant-based burger that boasts a more meat-like taste and texture than any other meatless burger on the market.
And I guess they aren't wrong about that. Austin's much-loved burger chain Hopdoddy sells the Impossible burger along with their usual selection of high-end beef, lamb, and veggie options. At $14 a pop, it sits nicely in their menu of expensive specialty burgers, and as a plant-based burger goes, it definitely tastes more like a regular old beef burger than anything else I've tried.
But it doesn't taste like a gourmet beef burger. As I bit into it, I was pleasantly surprised by the texture but I couldn't figure out why it tasted so familiar and then it hit me. It tastes like a cafeteria burger. Now, it's been a long time since I've had one, but those overly-processed, homogeneously gray patties are hard to forget. If you've ever had a cheap hamburger out of a microwavable bag, you know what I'm talking about. The Impossible burger tasted like that.
Which is not to say that it was bad. I enjoyed it, and the folks working the Hopdoddy grill got a nice crust on it so that it didn't feel exactly like a burger from a bag or a steam bin. But make no mistake, the Impossible Burger doesn't eat like a $14 gourmet beef patty.
I really like what the Impossible Foods crew is trying to do. If they can get the price on these things down to commodity ground beef levels, I could see the Impossible burger in its current form replacing fast food patties and school cafeteria burgers. But there's a huge gap right now between the price of a luxury, novelty burger and the taste. I suspect that most folks who want a veggie burger are going to be perfectly content with a black bean patty or something made with more grains and mushrooms and less science for half the price.
I'm curious to see how this turns into a product for use as a real ground beef replacement. Can you make meatloaf or tacos with it at home? I'd love to find out.