New burger op­tions go be­yond just meat

Best Eats Gail John­son

The Georgia Straight - - Food -

Juicy news for burger lovers: there are new op­tions in Metro Van­cou­ver, and that goes for ve­g­ans and meat lovers alike.

Be­yond Meat burg­ers—years in the mak­ing by a Socal com­pany and backed by the likes of Bill Gates and Leonardo Dicaprio—have made their way to Van­cou­ver, thanks to Meet restau­rants be­ing first in line for Cana­dian dis­tri­bu­tion.

What makes th­ese plant­based pat­ties stand out from other veg­gie burg­ers on the mar­ket is that they mimic beef in ap­pear­ance, tex­ture, and taste.

And even though a few mis­lead­ing me­dia sto­ries have led to an as­sump­tion that they “bleed” like real meat—which might be cool­sound­ing, un­less you hap­pen to be the kind of ve­gan or veg­e­tar­ian who is com­pletely creeped out by it—it’s not the case. The choles­terol-free pat­ties con­tain beet ex­tract, so they do have a pink­ish, medium-rare kind of look, but there’s no ooz­ing or drip­ping of any red juices.

There’s no soy or gluten, ei­ther. Peas make up the burger’s pro­tein source (20 grams per patty), while co­conut oil and potato starch help give it its moist chewi­ness.

Al­though not all ve­g­ans want to bite into some­thing that brings to mind real meat, Meet’s newly in­tro­duced menu item has largely been a hit.

“Most ve­g­ans love it. Most om­ni­vores love it,” says Meet co-owner Ja­son Antony in a phone in­ter­view. “That’s re­ally our goal, to make it easy for peo­ple to have a restau­rant ex­pe­ri­ence that has plant-based op­tions and they don’t have to think about it be­ing a ve­gan or non­ve­gan place—it’s just food.

“It’s a great tran­si­tion prod­uct, a great choice for peo­ple who are meat eaters but want to have a veg­gie burger from time to time or for the per­son who wants to ex­plore ve­g­an­ism,” adds Antony, who has been ve­gan for 14 years. “It’s meaty in taste and tex­ture, and that sat­is­fies a lot of peo­ple who want that. Th­ese types of choices are trans­for­ma­tional when it comes to our food sys­tem.”

At Meet’s three lo­ca­tions, the Be­yond Meat patty is served sim­ply on a kaiser bun with let­tuce, tomato, and pickle, along with fries and leafy-green salad topped with shred­ded car­rot and beet (about $15). Melted co­conut-based Chao “cheese” adds a creamy, fe­ta­like flavour.

If the Be­yond Meat burger doesn’t do it for you, Meet’s house-made and -smoked burg­ers don’t dis­ap­point. A wheat-and-veg-based patty can be given the same clas­sic treat­ment as above (the Main) or in­dul­gently amped up: beer-bat­tered, tossed in buf­falo sauce, and topped with gua­camole and ranch dress­ing (An­gry Burg), among other vari­a­tions. A mar­i­nated and grilled por­to­bello mush­room makes a pure, starch-free veg­gie burger, while black beans form the base of the Mu­cho Gusto, loaded with gua­camole, pico de gallo, let­tuce, chipo­tle mayo, house-made queso, and taco strips.

If, on the other hand, you’re a meat eater who seeks out high-qual­ity, ethically sourced, and sus­tain­ably raised beef, chances are you’ve heard of Two Rivers Spe­cialty Meats. Some of Van­cou­ver’s best restau­rants—in­clud­ing Fa­ble, Royal Dinette, and Hawksworth—rely on the lo­cal com­pany’s prod­ucts, which are free of an­tibi­otics, ad­di­tives, and hor­mones.

With the open­ing of North Van­cou­ver’s Two Rivers Spe­cialty Meats (180 Don­aghy Av­enue) late last year, you can now or­der a dryaged beef burger, which, as far as burg­ers go, is pretty much the ul­ti­mate. Hus­band-and-wife team Ja­son Pleym and Mar­got Millerd-pleym run Two Rivers, part­ner­ing with small farms in B.C. and Al­berta, where they can stop in and see for them­selves how an­i­mals are fed, raised, and treated. For their burg­ers, they source meat from Cache Creek Nat­u­ral Beef.

Most meat is wet-aged in plas­tic wrap, ac­cord­ing to the shop’s head butcher, Pasqual St­u­fano. Dry-aged beef, on the other hand, is ex­posed to air un­der tightly con­trolled tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity lev­els. If the space is too hu­mid, bac­te­ria can grow; too dry, and the meat loses mois­ture too quickly and tough­ens. Proper dry-ag­ing al­lows en­zymes to break down and cre­ate nat­u­ral amino acids that en­hance and deepen flavour.

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