Photo courtesy Love and lemons
In partnership with our friends from Grubhub
“We’re not chefs — we’re nerds,” says Adam Weiss, the company’s owner Honeybee Burger, a completely herbal fast food restaurant in Los Angeles. “We screwed up these things.” The other method of his team could be called meticulous or perfectionist. This results in incredible nonsense from cheeseburgers – they even have pickles all the way to science. And they take a dedicated, holistic approach to being a planet-friendly restaurant. They are committed to the continued application of more sustainable practices, such as the use of all non-wax boxes and manual stamping, so that they are fully compatible and coordinate with organizations that will take and use their used oil for fuel, rather than just throwing it away. Like most restaurants, Honeybee had to rely on delivery partners during the pandemic, and Grubhub stood out from the rest because it gave priority to sustainability – especially with this year’s partner for his Donate Changes initiative: For April, you can donate change from your Grubhub account for Green Restaurant Association, a group whose goal is to help restaurants become more sustainable. GrubHub has also joined the #CutOutCutlery campaign to reduce single-use plastic and plans to automatically run default settings to select zero dishes and napkins with each order. For restaurants, these efforts can cost money, and they are certainly more work. It’s worth it, says Weiss.
Weiss hopes to expand Honeybee Burger into the first national plant-based fast food chain, to prove that plant foods can be delicious and affordable, and that running a sustainable food business is something that can be successfully scaled and replicated. If you’re in LA, there are two locations (Silver Lake and Santa Monica) where you can grab burgers, french fries, ham and milkshakes. For now, those who aren’t from LA can use Weis ’tips to optimize their own vegetable burger at home.
8 BASIC BEES
Start with a really good bun
Good buns are crucial, says Weiss, because that’s the first thing you touch and taste when you bite a hamburger. That first impression is important. Toast to your bun – a step that many home chefs skip. The Honeybee Burger uses cultivated vegan butter without nuts and toasts flatbreads: This creates a kind of seal that prevents the buns from getting wet after you pour them over them.
Use a super aromatic burger sauce
Instead of adding a bunch of different spices (another cause of sour buns), make one delicious sauce that hits all the notes – creamy, astringent, sweet and salty, with a little heat. Try the one we developed for our approach a Big-ish herbal Mac.
Add the umami to your burger
The honey bee uses outside meat and impossible meat (which are our favorite vegetable meats) as the base of its burgers, but does a lot to elevate them to a higher level. In addition to seasoning and hand-shaping each burger, honey bee cooks also use which – an edible mold that comes from fermented rice widely used in Japanese cuisine – on each burger while cooking on a flat top. Which gives an intense umami flavor that gives the hamburger a deep, meaty taste. Which you can find in some Asian markets, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can get a similar effect from plant-based ingredients full of umami like mushroom powder, soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce, miso, nutritional yeast, or sea vegetables like algae .
In the Honeybee Burger, it’s a must – Weiss says he won’t sell a burger without cheese: “Even if you don’t think you like cheese, it adds the necessary richness and creaminess.” After testing countless vegan options, Honeybee landed on Violife (another favorite goop) because it melts so nicely. It’s also one of the few vegan options made without nuts, which helps keep the menu completely nut-free and available to people with allergies. When they add the cheese, the chefs spray a little water on a flat top near the burger to create steam, then cover the burger and cheese until they reach melted perfection.
The pickles at Honeybee Burger are home-made – something you can rarely see in fast food restaurants – and they’re great. Not too sweet, adding just as much salt, tango and crunchiness. Pickles are also placed thoughtfully. There are four per patty, so you get the right amount in each bite. And pickles protrude a little from the bun to let you know they’re there. (We are also very pro-homemade pickles.)
Onions in two ways
The contrasting textures and temperatures of the raw and cooked ingredients are one of the things that makes a burger so great. Honeybee Burger uses raw and cooked onions on its burgers – a thin strip of raw red onion for a little sharpness and onion jam that is a little sweet and adds moisture.
The local tomato is the best, but it is difficult to find a good one in the off-season – another challenge that can arise when a sustainable source is a priority. When you can nail fresh tomatoes, it adds acidity, juiciness and an almost fleshy texture.
Finish with lettuce
Instead of a watery iceberg or a gentle butter salad, Weiss recommends a green salad called Better Burger Salad – it has the right texture, and the sharp edges look great on a bun. Perhaps most important of the salad itself is the placement: “We put the salad on the bottom,” says Weiss. And before you ask, yes, his team tested that too. The lettuce at the bottom allows the pate to strike the palate first, creating a more desirable eating experience. The only downside is that your burger can blur faster, so once you assemble the burger, don’t procrastinate.