A convincing burger substitute

Story Cole Cahill

Photograph Matt Scholtz

My relationship with meat is complicated. I feel severe guilt for eating meat, but I am too selfish to fully commit to a vegetarian diet—so I settled to give up eating mammals. So when I heard about the Impossible Burger—a vegan burger claiming to taste identical to beef—being served at Crossroads Kitchen in West Hollywood, I saw an opportunity to satiate my cravings for animal products.

The Impossible Burger is a completely vegan burger patty that mimics the smell, appearance, and textures of beef. The burger uses heme, a blood-carrying compound found in mammals, sourced from yeast. Photos and videos of the patty online showed a burger near-identical to beef without any of the guilt that comes from contributing to a dangerously unsustainable industry.

Crossroads Kitchen seemed a bit bougie for my taste. Nevertheless, I rounded up some intrigued friends and made the trek to the alien land of West LA. Our party of three teens was no doubt out of place, but the wait staff kindly lead us to a booth along the wall of the well-lit, wood panelled room. We ordered fingerling potato slices and breakfast sausages: both vegan, both pricey. But the main event was the burger, which was accompanied by truffle fries.

Finally, I had it in front of me. The solution to my yearning for beef; the scientific solution to America’s infatuation with cattle. I could finally have a burger without sacrificing my principles!

It was pretty good.

First of all, the patty was small for conventional burger standards; around the size of a fast food hamburger. It was also fairly well-done, rather than the coveted medium-rare that makes other sandwiches so tasty. But the signature beef taste and tender, meaty flavor was there. The burger, for the most part, delivered.

Crossroads Kitchen’s other dishes kept up the positive trend. The truffle fries were savory and distinguished, the potato wedges expertly cooked, and the vegan breakfast sausages smokey and unique. Renowned vegan chef Tal Ronnen truly crafted an ambiance and menu that elevates vegan cuisine to the level of conventional dining.

Don’t expect a clone of a hamburger when ordering the Impossible Burger. Science is simply not at a point where soy and potatoes can pass flawlessly for meat. However, the sandwich is thoroughly impressive and gives us a glimpse into a future in which animal-free products look and taste just like meat.

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