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Vina Enoteca to serve first 'Impossible burger' in Silicon Valley

Uploaded: Mar 22, 2017
A burger made entirely from plants at a Redwood City startup has been making waves at select restaurants in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York — and now, in Palo Alto.

The Impossible Foods burger will make its debut today at Vina Enoteca, the first Silicon Valley restaurant to serve the scientifically engineered veggie burgers.


Vina Enoteca's take on the Impossible burger, served with sun-dried tomatoes, cavolo nero (or lacinato kale) and a sun-dried tomatoes mayonnaise on a poppy seed bun. Photo courtesy Impossible Foods.

Impossible Foods announced Wednesday that Vina Enoteca is among three new restaurants who will now serve the popular meatless burger. The other two are in San Francisco and Oakland, where the company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for its first large-scale manufacturing site.

The facility promises a significant increase of production. When "fully ramped up," a press release states, the facility will be able to produce 1 million pounds of the Impossible Foods burgers per month — enough to supply 1,000 restaurants, compared to the 11 eateries that currently serve the burger.

Impossible Foods, which was started by a Stanford University biologist in 2011, makes its burgers from water, wheat, coconut oil, potato protein and heme protein, which makes blood red and mimics the "bleeding" of a juicy, perfectly medium rare beef burger. Glycogen, a carbohydrate; konjac, also known as Japanese yam; and xanthan gum are added to help hold the ground beef together. (Read more about the science behind the burger here.)


Meatless burgers made by Impossible Foods sizzle on the grill at a media open house at the company's headquarters in Redwood City in October. Photo by Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Online.

The goal is to not only make a veggie burger that tastes good, but one that is environmentally sustainable and ultimately will change the way we consume meat. Impossible Foods says its burger uses 75 percent less water and generates 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases than conventional ground beef from cows. It also has no hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors and requires 95 percent less land to make than ground beef, according to the company. (The burger does, however, reportedly have high levels of saturated fat given the coconut oil.)

Each restaurant gets to develop its own spin on the Impossible burger. At Vina Enoteca, an Italian restaurant that opened on Welch Road in the Stanford Barn in November, it's served with sun-dried tomatoes, cavolo nero (or lacinato kale) and a sun-dried tomatoes mayonnaise on a poppy seed bun. It will be available as a slider at the restaurant's bar, Monday through Saturday from 5-9 p.m.

Owner Rocco Scordella called the Impossible Foods burger a "revolutionary product."

"We decided to work with Impossible Foods because I strongly believe in their mission and I love their product," he wrote in an email. "I believe this to be the future of food — (a) delicious plant-based burger that is good for the environment."

An Impossible Foods spokesperson said the company chose Vina Enoteca for the quality of its food and location (in that order).

"We were definitely looking for a place in the region where our investors, vendors, business partners, job recruits and other local supporters could go to try the Impossible Burger 'in the wild' — and we wanted to be in a place with total culinary credibility, lots of foot traffic and a diverse clientele," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

In the future, Impossible Foods hopes to serve its burger in a range of restaurants, from high-end to diners and takeout eateries. Eventually, the company also wants to sell it in retail stores.

Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by Poke Lover, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 22, 2017 at 11:13 am

Awesome! Can't wait to try it.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by big question, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 22, 2017 at 3:41 pm

How do the burgers taste??


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 9:11 am

@big question (resident of Barron Park):

"How do the burgers taste??"

Apparently, the burger's flavor largely depends on how it is cooked. Both the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger vegan patties were reviewed by Serious Eats:

Web Link

Basically, they are tasty if cooked medium rare but turn into tasteless cardboard if cooked well done.

One thing that isn't often discussed about the Impossible Burger is that is *LOADED* with sodium. Maybe not a big deal if these patties are an infrequent treat, but not something you'd probably want to consume on a regular basis.

Just something to take into consideration.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chris DiBona, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 11:25 am

I've had these, they're pretty tasty. They sort of have a longer 'fiber' than ground beef, which is different. So they're worth trying even if you like a good burger. They didn't taste especially salty though when I had one, doesn't mean 'reader' is wrong at all.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by eater, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Sodium levels are definitely high, but not insane. Pretty comparable to other restaurant foods. Web Link


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Saltiness is not an accurate barometer of sodium content, nor is table salt (sodium chloride) the only source of dietary sodium.

Sodium can come from multiple sources and is a naturally occuring mineral present in items (celery, beets, milk are three). There are plenty of documents about sodium

Web Link

Web Link

Common other sources of sodium in consumer food include MSG (monosodium glutamate), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium nitrate (a preservative).

I'm not saying that all sodium is evil, just pointing out that the Impossible Burger product does have high sodium content to start with. And that's before you adding on condiments, sauces, etc.

Remember that just because a food product is manufactured with a bunch of plants doesn't automatically make it healthy or good for you. This is an artificially fabricated item with very little understanding by the general public. As the article points out, the Impossible Burger patty does have a lot of saturated fat in it, but that's not the only thing to look at.

Just do your research very carefully to see if these newly developed products will work well in your diet before adding them as regular fare.

That said, I hope to try one of these myself in the not too distant future.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Impossible Burger, 85 g patty (about 3 oz.) has 380 g of sodium
ground beef (75% lean meat, 25% fat), 100 g serving (about 3.5 oz) has 67 g of sodium

If you do the math and make a 100 g Impossible Burger patty, it will provide 447 g of sodium.

The recommended daily intake limit for sodium (2,000 calorie diet) is 2400 g, so a 100 g Impossible Burger would be providing 18% of your recommended daily value. The natural beef burger patty of the same size? 2.8% the recommended daily value.

The saturated fat thing is even more eyepopping

Impossible Burger, 85 g patty, 11 g saturated fat, 55% of recommended daily limit.
Beef burger (75/25%), 100 g serving, 8 g saturated fat, 40% of recommended daily limit.

Again, doing the math and making a 100 g Impossible Burger patty results in 13 g saturated fat, 65% of recommended daily limit.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Eater, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

I wonder about the underlying idea. Lifelong or principled vegetarians, to whom meat foods have long been unappetizing, don't seek their imitations. Carnivores genuinely thoughtful about their own health have always had the profound timeless option of moderation. That seems to leave, as a potential market, people intrigued by sheer novelty, and those (a sizeable population) animated by have-it-both-ways impulses (health without moderation; meat without killing; boastfully saving some greenhouse gases, while generating far more of them, motoring to a special restaurant to do it). Am I missing something else? I *have* seen and tasted realistic-looking "meatless meats" since well before this blog's worthy author was born; they always generate expansive hype, before settling down to a niche in supermarket freezers and health-food stores.

Reader from another community raised excellent food-science points, but there are more. Dietary MSG (more precisely its distinctive "G" ion, glutamate aka glutamic acid) occurs vastly more in natural foods than as an additive (it's part of how many foods taste as they do: Web Link) and note the table of natural concentrations); for that matter, it pervades your own body's cells. Sodium nitrate is mainly not a manmade preservative, but naturally widespread in vegetables, especially leafy green ones like lettuce and celery Web Link and in foods like beets that are parts of leafy plants Web Link -- vegetables long common in natural human diets that were perfectly healthy, thanks to other components in the same plant foods. That has all been public for decades, yet many people retain misconceptions that these food components don't occur naturally. Don't get me going about the confusing label "saturated fat," whose old simplistic stigma is belatedly dissipating after decades when it was used to rationalize the sale and misleading "nutritional" labeling of synthetically hardened (but non-"saturated") fats with good industrial keeping qualities, but high in the trans-fatty acids rare in natural foods, and already medically suspect by the 1950s.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Eater, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 2:39 pm

This website garbled my first link above, to the WP entry on "Glutamic_acid_(flavor)" so here it is again, by itself:

Web Link)


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Scotty, a resident of Green Acres,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Is it appropriate to call an argument between two vegans a "beef"?


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 4:09 pm

@ Eater - I understand what you're saying. One of my sisters doesn't like to eat meat. She isn't a vegan or even a vegetarian. She simply finds the idea of eating meat revolting (although her husband and little boys eat meat). She doesn't eat red meat at all, dislikes seafood and frowns at the thought of eating poultry. She can't stand "veggie burgers" because she said that she doesn't like the thought of beef in the first place.

On the other hand, most of my family gladly eats meat. My husband likes a good burger and he tried the "Impossible Burger" somewhere (but I forget where he tried it). He said that it tasted pretty good; however, he said that it still didn't think that it tasted like beef. In fact, he said that it tasted like a very good vegetable-based burger that had beef stock or flavoring injected into it.

I don't know if this will catch on. It does sound innovative. However, if someone drinks fancy beers or wine and decides that they don't want to drink alcohol during lunch, do they go for non-alcoholic beer or wine? No. They usually drink a soda, water, tea or some other soft drink.

Still, if you're environmentally-conscious and want to promote and/or support something that you believe will "help the cause," then this might very well be a good option. My husband said that it tasted good enough to try it again.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Whocares, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I have been wanting to try this since I first heard of Impossible Burger a while back, and I love Vina Enoteca.

I'm curious, will it be served as a burger (a bit odd for an Italian restaurant) or ground up like in a bolognese sauce (which seems like it would lose some of its benefits over other veggie products).

Do anyone know how it will be served?


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 7:30 pm

@Whocares:

Look at the picture and re-read the article.

That's how Vina Enoteca plans on serving this vegan patty.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2017 at 8:08 pm

For those of us watching carbohydrates due to Type 2 Diabetes, I wonder what the carb content is of these burgers? Seems like it would be pretty high, unfortunately.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:47 pm

The saturated fat content looks pretty high for a vegetable-based product, which seems to offset some of the health benefits of avoiding meat. Is that from the coconut oil?
For celiacs or gluten-intolerant folks, wheat is a problem, even though they skip the buns.
It doesn't look all that healthy, to me, & the dedicated vegans I know don't eat foods which present as fake meats.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by john_alderman, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

Impossible burger is more of a cow substitute than a meat substitute. It would be targeted to someone concerned about cow welfare, and cow gas, not their health. Though, the saturated fat does come coconut oil, which some believe have health benefits (lauric acid). Sodium isn't bad for you, and makes things taste good, so who care about that.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Mar 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Nobody mentioned the price! I might invest in this if it costs half as much as it's beef equivalent.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Mar 24, 2017 at 7:17 pm

@Jack Hickey (resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills):

First of all, it's not an "investment" [sic]. It's an expense.

Secondly, for a restaurant of this type, the highest portion of its expenses is labor. Then add things like rent, utilities, insurance, etc. Food costs are relatively smaller portion of their expenses and the Impossible Burger patty will not make a $10 burger into a $5 burger. Plus, even if this were a relative cheap replacement to a beef patty (which it currently is not), there are still all those other things like buns, lettuce, sauces, tomatoes, condiments, etc. that all cost the same regardless of the patty.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 24, 2017 at 9:10 pm

@Jack, I've done fine investing in McDonalds, though you may be inclined to own some "Jack".


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Mar 25, 2017 at 10:06 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

My MCD investments have served me well, also. As for "Jack", if asked, I might do a commercial for them. I'll hold off on the newbie for now.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Kris, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Mar 26, 2017 at 12:24 am

I went to Vina to try it. It tasted absolutely delicious. I particularly recommend it to people who are new Vegans like me. I usually suppress my cravings for meat by watching Cowspiracy , a documentary about the destruction meat and dairy production causes on the environment, or watch slaughterhouse videos on YouTube. Now I don't have to. Impossible Burger tastes awesome.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by More choice, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Mar 27, 2017 at 9:36 am

Yes, some farming and ranching practices are like the one's in Cowspiracy, but luckily, not all.
I'm glad there are more choices for people committed to being vegetarian but who still crave delicious flavorful beef.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Mar 28, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Does it cost more than a guacamole burger at Dutch Goose?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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