Impossible! The 'bleeding' meatless veggie burger arrives at Burgatory

It’s now possible to buy the Impossible Burger in Pittsburgh — the lab-created, tech-endorsed, alt-meat patty that “bleeds” — with standalone Burgatory locations serving it for lunch and dinner.

It’s the first location in Pennsylvania to serve the Impossible Burger that first debuted in New York at Momofuku Nishi last year.

While it may not fool a burger aficionado, the Impossible Burger is a fine alternative. What looks like a ground beef patty is salty and savory, with a little of the Maillard char like a burger from the Smashburger chain — a loose, craggy patty with a few crispy ends.

At Burgatory, the Impossible Burger is layered with American cheese, roasted garlic mayonnaise, lettuce and pickles for a somewhat strange though satisfying experience: After all, the patty contains no animal fat, yet the flavor profile mimics that of 80/20 ground beef. Before it’s seasoned and layered with toppings, a nearly three-ounce patty clocks in at 220 calories and costs $13. (Compare that to a McDonald’s beef burger, a 3.5-ounce patty for 240 calories.)

When it launched at lunchtime on Monday at Burgatory’s North Shore location, a manager manned the door next to the host stand, where the restaurant kept postcards explaining the Impossible Burger. A bartender, who is vegetarian, said she was skeptical before she tried it, saying she didn’t want to eat a vegetarian meal that looked like meat. 

But lots of people are interested: It’s why Impossible Foods secured $80 million over five years to develop the product that was later backed by Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures. Developed in 2011, the Impossible Burger has garnered attention for its rosy hue of raw ground beef, quite a feat when the ingredients are mostly derived from plants. They include wheat and potato proteins, coconut oil, xanthan gum and heme — what Impossible Foods calls “a molecule found in all living things that gives meat its unmistakably meaty flavor.”

In response to a The New York Times’ article that questioned whether consumption of heme — also known as soy leghemoglobin — is safe, Impossible Foods spokeswoman Rachel Konrad says “Impossible Foods fully complies with all federal food safety regulations in the United States and has done so since 2014.” Following the August article, the company issued an open letter regarding what the company called “a dangerously deceptive article.” Heme contains yeast that has been genetically modified, a point of concern for some GMO opponents.

It’s available at all Burgatory locations except for PPG Paints Arena and Heinz Field.

Melissa McCart:


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