Photo courtesy Love & Lemons
In partnership with our friends at Grubhub
“We’re not cooks – we’re geeky,” says Adam Weiss, owner of Honeybee Burger, a plant-based fast food restaurant in Los Angeles. “We’re making fun of this stuff.” Others may describe his team’s method as meticulous or perfectionist. The result is an incredible cheeseburger scam – they even reduced the cucumber placement to a science. And they take a dedicated, holistic approach to being an eco-friendly restaurant. You commit to continuously implementing more sustainable practices, such as: B. Using all non-waxed cardboard boxes and hand stamping them to be fully compostable and coordinating with organizations that use their used cooking oil to fuel vehicles instead of just throwing it away. Like most restaurants, Honeybee had to rely on delivery partners during the pandemic, and Grubhub stood out because it made sustainability a priority – especially with this month’s partner for its Donate the Change initiative: For the month of April you can donate the change from your Grubhub order to the Green Restaurant Association, a group dedicated to making restaurants more sustainable. GrubHub has also joined the #CutOutCutlery campaign to reduce single-use plastics and plans to automatically select zero utensils and napkins by default with every order. For restaurants, these efforts can be costly and certainly more work. It’s worth it, says Weiss.
Weiss hopes to grow Honeybee Burger into the first national plant-based fast food chain, proving that plant-based foods can be delicious and accessible, and that running a sustainable grocery store can be successfully scaled and replicated. When in LA there are two places (Silver Lake and Santa Monica) that go for burgers, fries, tots, and milkshakes. For now, those of you outside of LA can use Weiss’ tips to tweak your own plant-based burger at home.
THE 8 ESSENTIAL HONEYBEE
Start with a really good bun
Good buns are crucial, says Weiss, because they’re the first thing you touch and taste when you bite into your burger. That first impression is important. Toasting your bun – a step that many home cooks skip. Honeybee Burger uses a nut-free, cultivated vegan butter and roasts the buns on the flat top: This creates a kind of seal that prevents the buns from becoming damp after being sucked up.
Use a super flavorful burger sauce
Instead of adding a few different spices (another cause of moist buns), make a delicious sauce that hits all the notes – creamy, flavorful, sweet and salty, with a little heat. Try the one we made for a plant-based Big-ish Mac.
Add umami to your patty
Honeybee uses Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat (which happen to be our favorite plant-based meats) as the bases for its burgers, but does a lot to take them to the next level. Not only does the Honeybee chefs season and shape each patty by hand, but they also use koji – an edible shape made from fermenting rice that is widely used in Japanese cuisine – for each patty as it cooks on the flat top. The koji has an intense umami flavor that gives the burger a deep, meaty taste. You can find koji in some Asian markets, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can get a similar effect from umami-wrapped plant-based ingredients like porcini mushroom powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire vegan sauce, miso and nutritional yeast, or sea vegetables like seaweed.
At Honeybee Burger, it’s mandatory – Weiss says they won’t sell a burger without cheese: “Even if you think you don’t like cheese, it adds the richness and creaminess it needs.” After Honeybee tried countless vegan options , she landed on Violife (another Goop favorite) because it melts so nicely. It’s also one of the few vegan options made without nuts, which keeps the menu completely nut-free and accessible to allergy sufferers. As the cheese is added, the chefs splash a little water on the flat top near the patty to create steam, then cover the patty and cheese until melting perfection is achieved.
The pickles in the Honeybee Burger are homemade – something rarely seen in fast food restaurants – and they’re excellent. Not too sweet, just add enough salt, seaweed and crunch. The cucumbers are also thoughtfully placed. There are four per patty so you get the right amount of every bite. And the cucumbers stick out a little from the bun to let you know they’re there. (We’re also very homemade pickles.)
Onions in two ways
The contrasting textures and temperatures of raw and cooked ingredients are one of the things that make a burger so great. Honeybee Burger uses raw and cooked onions for its burgers – a thin band of raw red onions for a bit of spiciness and an onion jam that is a little sweet and adds moisture.
Local tomatoes are the best, but finding good ones is difficult in the off-season – another challenge that can arise when sustainable sourcing is a priority. If you can nail the fresh tomato on, it adds acidity, juiciness, and an almost fleshy texture.
Finish with a salad
Instead of a watery iceberg or tender butter salad, Weiss recommends a green leafy salad called Better Burger Lettuce – it’s just the right texture and the frilled edges look good on a bun. Placement is perhaps more important than the lettuce itself: “We put the lettuce on the floor,” says Weiss. And before you ask, yes, his team tested this too. Salad on the bottom allows the patty to hit your palate first, making for a more desirable dining experience. The only downside is that your burger may get soaked quicker. So when you have your burger put together, don’t hesitate.