Friday, December 02
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Impossibly Good Burger

Just in time for summer, the great American burger experience has gotten even better for East Enders.

Thanks to science and the California-based Impossible Foods, there’s now a meatless burger option that tastes good, is good for you and also good for the planet. It’s called the “Impossible Burger™” and it’s a 100-percent plant-based vegetarian alternative that “bleeds” like beef.

Made from natural ingredients, including soy, wheat protein, coconut oil and potatoes, the burger gets its real bite from heme, an iron compound typically found in meat but taken from plants in this instance. In this case, the component, which gives hemoglobin in blood its distinctive color, is found in the roots of the soybean plant. It’s this “magic” ingredient that gives this patty its savory taste and drip-down-your-chin juiciness.

Created as an alternative to the use of animals in food—which produces greenhouse gasses and currently necessitates using nearly half of the Earth’s land mass for cattle grazing, as well as enormous water consumption and planetary pollution—the Impossible Burger™ was made “for people who love meat,” according to Impossible Foods Founder and CEO Pat O. Brown.

“We spent the past five years researching what makes meat unique: the sizzle, the smell, the juicy first bite,” the company’s website reports. “Then we set out to find precisely the right ingredients from the plant kingdom to recreate the experience meat lovers crave. You’ve never tasted plants like this.”

It’s true. Having girded by courage, and my gut, I went in search of this infeasible-seeming food unicorn. The result: Yes, Virginia, there is an incredible tasting hamburger made of plants that would fool even the most discriminating carnivore. Better yet, I double-dog-dare every single last meat-eater to try it and not love it.

Currently there are two restaurants out here on the East End, that we know of so far, that serve this delectable delicacy: Industry Standard in Greenport and Rowdy Hall in East Hampton. Expect this list to grow as consumers get their hands on the aptly named menu item.

At Greg Ling’s North Fork eatery, the $14 Impossible Burger™ is served up on a traditional bun and topped with cheese (American or vegan) lettuce, tomato, onion and “2000 Island” dressing, plus hand-cut French fries. Side note—even if you don’t usually enjoy creamy sauces on sandwiches, make sure to not skip this one; it catapults the flavor into the stratosphere.

“It’s geared toward meat-eaters,” says Ling. “And it’s pretty mind-blowing.”

At Honest Man Restaurant Group’s Rowdy Hall on the South Fork, the $19 Impossible Burger™ is sandwiched on a sesame bun and comes with a choice of American, Swiss, Cheddar or Blue cheese, plus lettuce, tomato, onion (or fried onions, yum!) and served with hand-cut fries. 

“I have never been a fan of veggie burgers but when I started looking for a lighter alternative to meat, this was the way to go and I find it to be very delicious,” says Honest Man partner and chef Joe Realmuto. “There is a lot of excitement about it, particularly with people who can no longer eat meat but now have something that they can eat that tastes like beef.”

For those looking for additional veggie-based burger alternatives, there’s Bay Burger in Sag Harbor, which offers a Beyond Burger, and Sabrosa Mexican Grill in Water Mill, serving Beyond Beef. These plant-based proteins differ in taste and makeup from the Impossible Burger™, but they are built upon similar principles, health- and planet-wise. And, after all, it’s nice to know that those who want to get off meat on the East End have a growing number of not-so-impossible choices.