The meatless 'Impossible Burger' is proving a huge hit at Hell's Kitchen – and it's not even on the menu yet

We went to the Minneapolis restaurant to try it out.
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We went to the Minneapolis restaurant to try it out.

Hell's Kitchen this week became the first restaurant in Minnesota to start serving the "Impossible Burger," which has wowed diners in New York, Chicago and California since its launch in 2016.

The brainchild of Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods, the meatless patty is made entirely from plants, but contains a flavoring – heme – that makes it tastes of meat.

Hell's Kitchen heavily lobbied Impossible Foods to become the first Minnesota restaurant to serve the burger, and started initially offering it as an off-menu item to customers last week.

It won't appear on menus until late January when Hell's Kitchen's new menus arrive, but that hasn't stopped them from serving up hundreds of burgers already.

Chef/owner Steve Meyer says they've been selling between 50-70 Impossible Burgers a day, making it the best selling burger at Hell's Kitchen on most days, surpassing even its Juicy Lucy.

Spot the difference: One's a regular beef burger, the other is meatless.

Spot the difference: One's a regular beef burger, the other is meatless.

Despite being meatless and vegan-friendly, Hell's Kitchen doesn't sell it as a vegan dish owing to the chipotle mayo and egg buns it's served with.

Instead, it's being marketed towards burger lovers who want to enjoy the taste of meat, but are growing increasingly conscious of the environmental cost of beef production.

Impossible Foods says its burger is created with 87 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a beef burger.

As for the taste, the addition of the heme molecule that is present in all living things but is particularly abundant in meat is designed to give the burger a meaty taste with none of the guilt.

Meyer, who has been a cook for 34 years, is a fan of its adaptability, saying: "Anything I can do with burger meat I can do with the Impossible Burger. I have not come across any other meat substitute like it."

We gave it a try

I'm a big fan of burgers and a fan of big burgers, but if I hadn't known I was doing this taste test beforehand, I probably wouldn't have noticed the Impossible Burger didn't contain meat.

There are differences, sure. It's a little less juicy than a typical burger, you won't find it red in the middle, and the texture is slightly drier, but there is a definite meaty taste there that proves satisfying.

But whether it's meat-filled or meatless, the most important takeaway from the burger is that it's tasty.

It looks like meat to me.

It looks like meat to me.

I'm among those finding it hard to reconcile their love of a good burger with knowing the environmental impact of beef production, not to mention the health implications of eating too much red meat.

And while I would usually opt for chicken or turkey alternatives as I try to cut down my red meat consumption, I'd have no hesitation ordering the Impossible Burger.

You'll only find it at Hell's Kitchen for now, costing $14.95 with your choice of toppings and fries on the side.

But given it's spread to almost 300 locations nationwide since being introduced two years ago, don't be surprised to see it spring up at other Minnesota eateries soon enough.

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