How does Impossible Burger 2.0 taste?
Before I flew to Vegas to get a taste of the new Impossible (note to self: trademark sick phrase “The New Impossible” ASAP) at Border Grill, I spoke to co-owner and Top Chef Masters vet Mary Sue Milliken about how including the burger on her menus is one way to counteract the downsides of meat production and consumption.
“The vision and the mission of [Impossible] is really great because they’ve been able to mimic a lot of the same flavors, textures, and most importantly, the satisfying quality of meat through science,” she said. “And to me that shines a light on a possible wide-scale solution to one of the biggest threats we’re facing as a planet in terms of sustainability.”
Sustainability aside, because Milliken’s still an (occasional) meat eater and chef, the taste of the new burger is of utmost importance as well. She thinks the new version has a better chew, and that it gets closer to that satisfying umami flavor you get from beef. She feels that she has a duty to her customers to serve them healthy food, so It also doesn’t hurt that it has a third lower sodium and saturated fat than its predecessor. Her restaurants have served Impossible meat atop nachos, in empanadas, and as a burger.
Border Grill Vegas’ executive chef Mike Minor whipped up a few Burger 2.0 courses for my visit (all these dishes are available through January as part of a vegan menu): Argentinian beef empanadas, a vegan chile relleno, and a burger. I was sold after my first bite of the empanada with Impossible beef, black beans, and charred masa that’d been painted with an aji amarillo cream. My conscious mind knew it wasn’t real beef, but my subconscious could not have given a shit either way. This tasted exactly like beef. The chile relleno was intensely spicy for a wuss like me, but I loved the meat all the same.
Minor’s medium-rare burger sold me completely on 2.0. Topped with salsa fresca, avocado, and a vegan secret sauce, it hit all the same pleasure centers in my body as when I eat a well-made burger at a restaurant. Milliken was right -- the chew and umami were on point. I thought the original Impossible was great, but this exceeded my expectations. It even looked like the real thing. Is this fake beef so convincing you could trick a meat eater into believing it’s real? Sure. But if we assume people love burgers simply because they taste good, no trickery is needed.
Impossible Burger 2.0 is now available in 20+ restaurants across the country, and beginning in February, it’ll be served at all restaurants currently carrying version 1.0. Later in 2019, grocery stores will stock it for the first time. It has a solid chance at being a crossover hit -- not just with conscious carnivores and vegans who still crave burgers.
“The cool thing about the Impossible burger is that it’s a good fit for everybody,” Minor said. “It doesn’t have to only be for vegans who want a product made for them. This [meat] is vegan, but it’s made for everyone. It’s just delicious.”