Honest Burgers: An ode to the plant-based burger

Credit to the founders of Honest Burgers – a now 20+ outlet mini-chain in London and beyond – for being ahead of its time. Originally founded in Brixton in 2011, the concept of ‘honesty’ is an important one, particularly for Millennials and those in Generation-Z. Consumer tastes in the western world are shifting from mass-produced brands towards healthier and more unique products; people care about provenance and authenticity. The philosophy behind Honest is making its patties in its own butchery while its chips are handmade, on a daily basis. Furthermore, each restaurant consciously chooses to partner with local food and drink suppliers. This is all well and good, but how does the product taste? Your reviewer may not be the best person to answer this question since he is not a huge fan of burger and chips and would be reluctant to enter such a venue through choice, unless severely hungover. However, in the interests of research, I visited the Marylebone branch of Honest with a willing colleague last week and a very specific purpose in mind – to sample the vegan burger they have recently launched. Full disclosure: neither my comrade nor I is vegan nor has plans to become so. Nonetheless, the burger was damn good and would convince many a sceptic. Veganism is all the rage (while only 2% of the UK population describes itself as being so, some 34% of Brits say they have consciously reduced their meat consumption in the last year, per the Vegan Society) and it seems fitting that Honest should include such a product in its range. Produced by Californian company Beyond Meat, the offering is a plant-based patty (comprising primarily pea and lentil) combined with vegan smoked Gouda cheese, a chipotle ‘mayo’ mustard and many of the other usual adornments. Per the photo, it certainly looked like a more traditional burger, with a pink patty. Had I been served this blind, then both its smell and texture were remarkably – some may say disquietingly – like beef. Each bite brought the fatty mouthfeel I would more normally associate with a meat burger. Savour it and you can get notes of umami and smoke too. Priced at £13.50, diners are paying a notable premium for the privilege (Honest’s traditional beef burger is just £9). Sure, you feel good, but whether everyone will be convinced to stump up the extra remains to be seen. It’s good that the option exists though. More broadly, Honest clearly must be doing something right – since the place was full when we visited and our neighbouring diners seemed happy. Time to make that visit.