Not one, but two SF restaurants are now selling “bio-engineered” plant meat burgers

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SFStation – Three restaurants in California have started selling Impossible Foods’ planted-based burger, with two of them located in San Francisco. French spot Jardinière in Hayes Valley and American eatery Cockscomb in SoMa have both elected to add the experimental food product to their menus.

Beginning today, the $19 burger at Cockscomb is available for lunch Monday through Friday and comes served with caramelized onions, lettuce, gruyere cheese, grandma Helen’s pickles, dijon mustard and mixed greens.

Also available today is the $16 burger from Jardinière, which is available nightly after 7:30 pm in the bar and lounge. It comes with caramelized onion, avocado, special sauce, and a side of pommes frites.

Impossible Burgers are made from a handful of ingredients, including wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil. Textured wheat and potato proteins form the ground base with flecks of coconut oil mixed in. The flecks stay solid until it makes contact with the frying pan and begins to melt similar to beef fat.

The true differentiation of the Impossible Burger is its secret ingredient, an iron-containing molecule called leghemoglobin or “heme” for short. By genetically modifying yeast to produce heme, the company successfully created a “bloody” burger that’s pink when raw and turns brown when it’s cooked. The burger has been truly bio-engineered to mimic the taste, smell, and mouth-feel of beef.

“The goal is to turn plants into meat much more sustainably and efficiently,” said Impossible Foods founder and CEO Pat Brown.

“All the amino acids and the heme that come together in the taste, that’s what got me,” explained Cockscomb Restaurant chef Chris Cosentino when asked why his restaurant wants to sell the burger.

What’s most impressive about the Impossible burger is not the taste, but the light impact on the environment. Creating this burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% fewer greenhouse gas emissions when compared to cattle-raised beef. Eventually, the company’s burger will cost less than hamburger patties at the grocery store.

The Impossible burger made its official East Coast debut earlier this summer at chef David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi in New York City. Impossible Foods plans to launch in more restaurants later this year and is thinking beyond the burger. The company has created prototypes of other meat and dairy products.

Classic Silicon Valley story here. Someone took a terrible New York idea and doubled down on it in San Francisco to much hype and praise, so a year or two from now hopefully it all go down the tubes and only a select few profit from it. But tech comparisons aside, even for SF this seems a bit too Utopian Earth Cafe. I can see maybe trying it if someone else ordered it or if you really just wanted to fuck with a buddy you’re ordering for. But to order on a regular basis? Who does that?

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That’s the type of guy who orders it on a regular basis. You know how I know? Because he’ll probably tell you all the CO2 emissions and water he’s saving by eating this BioBurger (which has probably been doused with as much Lowry’s seasoning in the kitchen as possible). Plus, being a society man I have been to both restaurants and let me tell you, you would have to be a grade A dick to look at those menus and not order ANYTHING else. Jardiniere is one of the better dinner spots in the city (expensive, near the Opera, looks like Moulin Rogue inside) and if you picked a plant burger to eat from there, the waiter should be authorized to slap you.

Burgers need meet, even if it’s from a turkey because here in America, our burgers are made with meat. Unless you’re a veggie burger, but even then veggie burger people keep those patties in the freeze. Which is cool with me, if that’s what you gotta do. I have a real, “don’t ask, don’t eat” policy when it comes to veggie meals. Just don’t be flaunting it in my face and saying it’s better than my good ole fashion cheeseburger with real meat. Don’t put that on me.

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P.S. I went to Veggie Grille and ordered a Chikin sandwich once completely oblivious to the fact that everything on the menu was made from vegetables. Ate it all THEN found out what I had done. Top 10 low moment for me.

 

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