We’re not going to name names, but we’re pretty sure most veggie burger chefs working today have never tasted real beef. Our evidence: Almost every veggie patty we’ve ever had has been about as flavorful as wet cardboard with the moisture level and texture to match. Since the recent introduction of the Impossible Burger to a variety of locations around the country, we’ve been dying to sink our teeth into the lauded meat substitute. With a heavy dose of skepticism, we sought out the Impossible Burger during a weekend staycation at The Duniway Portland Hotel‘s Jackrabbit Restaurant, a meat-centric eatery in Portland, Oregon, where you can get a whole-cooked rabbit in addition to the meat-like, meatless burger.
Jackrabbit itself is an elegantly appointed restaurant with dark wood paneling, bar-to-ceiling liquor shelves, semi-circular banquette booths with leather upholstery, and a series of architecturally compelling chandeliers that look more akin to steampunk Edison lighting than traditional chandeliers. Antique globe lights cast just the amount of yellow light to make the menu visible, but not enough to feel like you’re sitting in a spotlight.
The menu at Jackrabbit is a tour de force of meat and seafood where you can get a bateau (aka “boat”) filled with charcuterie, oysters, and clams; a whole braised rabbit; or even a pig’s head; along with a jamon sampling entitled “Around the World in 8 Hams,” which is an absolute must-try for pork people. But we weren’t there for any of that, so we sadly passed on the rabbit and pig’s head and opted for the Impossible Burger instead.
After a 10-minute wait, it arrived perfectly plated and looking every bit like a regular beef burger. With no hesitation, we dugin, noting immediately that it was super moist with a texture similar to that of ground beef, but just slightly off. If you’ve ever had Indian samosas, the filling is the closest comparison I can make with the consistency of the Impossible Burger. So far, so good!
Now, for the taste: Honestly, we could have easily believed the Impossible Burger to be a regular burger had we not known what we were getting ourselves into. There is a truly meaty flavor to the burger that we had never previously experienced with a veggie patty. The team at Impossible Burger chalks this up to their use of a unique ingredient: heme.
According to Impossible Foods, the maker of the Impossible Burger, heme is “responsible for the characteristic of taste and aroma of meat, it catalyzes all the flavors when meat is cooked. Heme is exceptionally abundant in animal muscle — and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants.” The good people at Impossible Foods, “discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation — similar to the method that’s been used to make Belgian beer for nearly a thousand years. Adding heme to the Impossible Burger makes it a carnivore’s delight.”
Compared to the beef industry, production of the Impossible Burger uses 95 percent less land, 74 percent less water, and creates 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s not only delicious, but good for the environment and practically guilt-free. Even though we’re huge meat-lovers at The Manual, we highly recommend the Impossible Burger as a meatless alternative to beef.
If you can’t make it to Portland to try the Impossible Burger at Jackrabbit, you can see all locations where the burger is served here. And for more information about the Duniway Hotel and Jackrabbit, check out the official website.