At brunch with the super smart, funny, talented and all around good person, Stacy Michelson we dove headfirst into this relaunched, 100% vegan, pub in Downtown LA. Easily agreeing on two cocktails to share, we sat back to enjoy good conversation and me accidentally smashing a glass candle holder. After the candle mishap, we shared the Accidental Guru ($13)—a blend of Jameson with forward notes of peach liquor, tempered with ginger, lime, and hefeweizen, served on the rocks—and the Trinidad Sour ($13)—a boozy crush of Redemption rye, angostura bitters, orgreat, and lemon served Snoopy sno-cone cute with a polkadot paper straw.
I’m about to let you in on a secret: I am a suckers for tater tots. This innovation of waste management grip my heartstrings in its crisp chunky nugs. And so Beelman’s Tachos ($10) were an absolute outcome of brunch. The pan comes loaded with fried tots topped with soyrizo, cashew cheese, salsa, gochujang crema (although we had a hard time singling out this element of the mountain), housemade pickled jalapenos, bird’s eye chili pinto beans, and a toupee of cilantro. Carby and warm, with just a hit of spice, this is exactly what what I crave in pub food.
The appetizer portion of any menu is usually the best part. It is because apps are designed as small flavor packets meant to satisfy in one or two bites—such as these, the Wonton Mee Bites ($6). Golden arms of deep fried wonton wrapper reach up and around domino-sized cuts of smoked tofu. A sweet and tart balsamic reduction glistens over a base of sriracha aioli, all under a confetti of green onions.
The least successful dish of my brunch was the only actual brunch dish we ordered: Harissa Says It All ($15). Slivers of fried grits and seared tofu with togarashi—a japanese chili pepper—atop roasted potatoes with rainbow carrots and kale tossed in a mild house-made harissa. This dish simply didn’t live up to the complexity and kick that harissa promises. As for the fried grits, I would pay for just a plateful of these deep fried, sweet corn filled, shards.
We debated this choice. Neither Stacy nor I had yet tried the Impossible burger. Unsure if Beelman was where we should rip the hyman of this darling-of-mainstream-hype, our eyes locked and we decided: No, this would not be the one.
While ordering we mentioned that we had never tried the Impossible Burger.
“But you must! ” Vance said.
Apparently that was all it took because as you can see, we order a Classic Impossible Burger ($16). Slathered with chipotle aioli, a fat red tomato slice, spring greens, pickles, and spicy ketchup which is was thankfully not very ketchupy because ketchup is a garbage condiment and yes you should be ashamed of liking it. The burger party was thinner then I expected (have we all been spoiled by the girth of the Beyond Burger?) and… umm, well—OK, let me acknowledge here that it’s been at least 25 years since I’ve eaten cow. But, like many of us, I have vivid memories of the flavors of youth which in my case did include cowburgers. So, to my self-assessed strong sense of food recollection, this did not taste “just like meat.”
For me, this burger confirmed what I’ve suspected about the Impossible Burger—that it’s a high quality product benefiting from awesome PR and the sudden societal interest in WFPB “healthy” eating. This burger got lucky. Riding on the What the Health tailwind, there is a strong desires by vegans and omnis alike to believe it is a near undetectable substitute for cow. Personally, I don’t think it is. This burger’s miracle of science story and the corroboration of “non-bias” (aka not vegan) media has coddled hordes of omnivores into finally feeling it is OK to say a veggie burger tastes good. So I am very happy to complicity nod and smile when omnis tell me how much they love this vegan burger*.
But I think the real issue here is form. Because since this meal I’ve had Impossible meat in a shepherds pie—and there, there it tasted like eerily of beef. Without the palate numbing loaf of bread, and the 3:1 ratio of vegetables to meat, the irony tang of heme stands at the forefront of each bite.
Because we are gluttons, after all this food we went on to share an Ice Cream Sundae ($8). Scoops of Vanilla and Honeycomb Van Leeuwen ice cream drizzled in guava sauce, topped in coconut whip cream and eared with deep fried, wonton wrapped, sweet plantains. While I think ice cream is a weak dining-in vegan dessert (dear restaurants: please stop serving sorbet as a vegan, gluten-free, healthy catch-all. It is boring as f***) this was a light yet flavorful finale.
600 S Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
*Yes, I am away of the vegan paradox surrounding this product. I absolutely respect everyone’s opinion on this matter and am personally choosing to call the Impossible Burger vegan.