Just a few short years ago, eating a "veggie burger" usually meant just that: eating a burger made from vegetables, mushrooms, beans, perhaps quinoa, and some spices thrown in for good measure. Then came the era of the "bleeding" plant-based burger which, given the popularity and growth of both the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger, is an era we are living squarely in the middle of right at this moment. The goal of both brands of meat substitute has been twofold: 1) reduce the environmental impact and waste caused by meat production and 2) become a ubiquitous alternative to beef. With yesterday's announcement and today's rollout of the Impossible Slider at White Castle, that second goal is taking shape as the bloody, no-beef revolution officially takes over the ultimate target: a mainstream fast food burger chain.
We tried the new Impossible Slider, which is a collaboration between Ohio-based White Castle and California-based Impossible Foods, the latter of which has garnered attention for not only its adoption by chefs like David Chang and chains like Umami Burger, but also for its ability raise tens of millions of dollars in investment capital. It's no wonder, then, that the launch of the slider was celebrated with celebrity-studded bash. Hosted by comedian/director/vintner Eric Wareheim, with a DJ set by The Roots' Questlove, and a performance by Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna of the Wu-Tang Clan, White Castle overhauled its Myrtle Avenue location in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood to give food industry insiders and influencers the first taste. Here's what we thought.
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If you're a fan of White Castle, you know that the chain's usual beef sliders are a relatively simple production: meat griddled with onions, served on fluffy rolls with ketchup, a pickle and, if you wish, cheese. The Impossible Slider is basically the same construction, with the patty being replaced with the Impossible Foods product. (For some reason it comes with cheese as a default, making this more of a vegetarian than vegan option without altering the order.) The result, however, is remarkably the same. In this application—a two-by-two-inch square patty about a quarter of an inch thick, prepared and dressed identically to the beef version—the beef-to-Impossible swap succeeds. Melding with the Impossible patty's slightly rusty, iron-y flavor, the ground texture absorbs enough of the onion and oil from the grill and holds together enough like beef to make you not even think twice that you're eating something that didn't come from a cow. And when you're typically housing a bagful of burgers from White Castle, thinking twice isn't going to be an issue. Except, perhaps, when it comes the price.
The Impossible Slider sells for $1.99 a la carte—double the price of a beef cheeseburger slider—andcan also be purchased as part of a combo with a side and a drink. Curious to try the Impossible Slider yourself? The burger is available in 140 White Castle stores across three states—New York, New Jersey, and some Chicago-area restaurants—starting today. A statement from Impossible Foods says the White Castle could "potentially" roll out the product to stores nationwide.