taste test

Is the New Impossible Burger Any Good?

It certainly looks like the real thing. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

The veggie burger boom shows no signs of slowing down. One of the biggest names in the field is, of course, the Impossible Burger from Silicon Valley start-up Impossible Foods, which last week rolled out version 2.0 of its high-tech patty. (At the Consumer Electronics Show, no less!) And this week, that upgraded burger became available at partner restaurants around the country, so Team Grub — including New York restaurant critic Adam Platt — gave it a try. Here’s what we thought of the start-up’s latest model.

The burger itself certainly gets a ten out of ten for presentation.
If you’re going to come for real burgers, you have to look like a real burger. And so the first question we asked of the Impossible Burger 2.0 was: did it look good enough to eat? At our test lunch at an Umami Burger, the fixings definitely helped: think thick buns, tomatoes, cheese, pickles, Bibb lettuce, that coral-toned “special” sauce, and it had the heft of the real thing. Platt put it this way: “It actually looks quite beautiful. Like all food these days, it is designed for its reveal, and for Instagram it passes that test.”

Your results may differ depending on where you eat one.
Right now, you can’t buy an Impossible Burger in grocery stores, so the company relies on partner restaurants to make burgers as they usually would using Impossible Burger patties, which leaves the company vulnerable to quality-control issues

In the case of the Umami Burger version we tried, the bun, though it looked nice, did not actually help the burger-eating experience, giving it a dense, overly bready texture. It wasn’t a complete deal-breaker, but you might be better off trying the new burger at another restaurant, like Saxon and Parole, Mission Chinese Food, or Bareburger.

The rumor is that this patty tastes like real meat — and that rumor is mostly true.
Our first impression of the patty on its own was that it seems to have lost the “bleeding” quality, which was one of the big selling points of the Impossible Burger 1.0. (Impossible Foods told us that Umami tends to prepare its burgers further down on the doneness scale and that anyone could ask for a “bloodier” burger. But still, “bloodiness” isn’t a huge part of the advertising campaign for 2.0.) Impossible Foods seems to have really shifted its focus instead to creating a patty that is texturally on-point and doesn’t crumble like the old version, and which gets a little closer to approximating the taste of actual beef.

Alas, it was still possible for these meat-eaters to detect a difference. ”It tastes like 2-to-5 percent cat food,” Platt said. Nevertheless, the burger had the salty char and filling qualities you’d hope for from a beef burger, and it mostly tasted like the real thing.

The ever-important cross-section reveals a patty that approximates the look of a well-done fast-food burger. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

You’d better like it, because the Impossible Burger 1.0 is officially dead.
If you liked the old Impossible Burger, the one made with wheat protein, then you’re out of luck. As of February 4, it will have gone the way of the iPod Nano. But is that all that bad? As we mentioned before, Team Grub thought the old version was unusually crumbly. And no matter how good it tastes, no one wants a crumbly burger. It was also a one-trick pony: just a burger patty. These Impossible Burgers, made from the company’s new “ground beef” product, will supposedly make it good for tacos, casseroles, and more. Change is hard, but this doesn’t necessarily seem (or taste) like a bad change.

The Impossible Burger is better than most fast-food burgers and makes a strong case for ditching other veggie burgers.
The big question: Is this new Impossible burger the best-ever veggie burger? Probably not — that title still belongs to Brooks Headley’s accurately named Superiority Burger — but while Headley’s burger is only available at a single shop in the East Village, this new Impossible Burger is built to scale, which means you’ll have a much easier time tracking one down. When you do, Grub Street suggests giving it a try.

Is the New Impossible Burger Any Good?