Ask a vegetarian about their favorite non-meat burger, and (outside of a possible eye roll) you’ll probably get some upscale concoction made with sprouted beans and beet glue for binding. But ask a meat-eater about their favorite veggie burger, and you’re more than likely to get a confused, head-scratching look. But now there is the Impossible Burger, a meatless (but very meaty) burger alternative, and you can try it for yourself at Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose.
Ostensibly, the idea behind the Impossible Burger (yes, proper name and all) was to recreate the look, cook, and texture of a beef burger, right down to the salty, fatty sear on the outside when it hits the griddle. That way, meat eaters could have an animal-free option to try should they so choose, and vegetarians would be able to easily replicate the sort of burgers they may well have grown up eating — or at least not find themselves the butt of a few unnecessary jokes at the next cookout when showing up with a portobello mushroom cap.
In practice, the burger looks and feels just like you’d expect meat to behave, and even retains some juiciness and coloration when cooked off properly. There’s the salty, iron-rich flavor to back it all up as well, which is a pretty incredible scientific feat that apparently took five years to lock in.
Right now, the Impossible Burger — already used by David Chang in New York and, more recently, Chris Cosentino in San Francisco — can only be found at chef Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads Kitchen, a vegan restaurant on Melrose. For $14, about the price of some quality grass fed beef burger offered for lunch at a sit down restaurant, guests can tuck into an Impossible Burger and a side of truffle fries to check the thing out for themselves. While there is no cheeseburger option at the moment, Ronnen says one is likely coming, given his penchant for creating dairy-free cheeses.
There are other specialties coming down the line as well, be they "beef tartare" preparations, or meatballs or any other formerly meaty form the kitchen staff can dream up. But for now there’s only the burger, an impossible bit of science with an equally Impossible name, available daytime at one of the nation’s most important meatless restaurants.