The fake meat movement is not only fake moos: fake chicken is also squawking into the barnyard as demonstrated by Project Pollo, an outfit out of San Antonio led by Lucas Bradbury. Bradbury’s mission is to put people over profits and offer (fake) pollo with a purpose. He also sees the future of mass food production as plant based, hence his drive to promote plant-based chicken, called chickn without the e (and without the cluck).
As a scientist, I’m fascinated with the great leaps forward in fake meats and devour articles on this topic with dedication. As a foodie, I’ve only been mildly impressed so far. For example, the Impossible Burger is impressive in that if you fed me one, I wouldn’t know that it was fake. However, it only made for an adequate and therefore unimpressive (fakeness aside) burger. Fake chicken is in the same, if not more challenging, territory. With burgers, the beef is ground up, so it’s easier to match the texture. With chicken, non-parts-is-parts people expect meat and muscle, so the challenge is greater, akin to creating a steak instead of ground beef.
Visually, Project Pollo has it down. Their products appear as delicious, fried-chicken sandwiches. I tried the Nashville Hot (breaded chikn, spicy garlic buffalo sauce, house ranch, and pickled jalapeño; $7.5) while The Bride went with the Original Project (but dry with pickles and lettuce; $7.5). We also ordered fries ($2.5 each) and the Mac & Cheese (shells smothered in credo cashew queso; $2.5).
Similar to my hamburger experience, my chickn sammich probably would have faked me out if I didn’t know it was fake, but it also wasn’t memorable (outside of its fakeness). The Bride, ever the picky eater, especially with chicken, noted that Project Pollo somehow managed to reproduce the icky parts of real chicken, parts she picked out despite my hollering that it was all plants. The Mac & Cheese had the color of cashew and not the comforting atomic day-glo orange of traditional mac & cheese (and Pollo’s image of the dish on the menu).
Although we were not impressed as foodies, we also recognize that Project Pollo (and other fakers like it) are not intended for us meat-eaters (at least not at the moment). Vegans and vegetarians who miss hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and mac & cheese are prolly as happy as in situ clams to have these guilty pleasures back on their dinner tables, not to mention that this is a place they can order anything off the menu without a Spanish Inquisition of waitstaff and chefs.
It’s important to note that this low-carbon (but not low-carb…) stuff is getting better all the time. The scientist in me plans on checking back in from time to time to see how the chickn business is progressing with the hope of the chickn getting better with time; the foodie in me also honestly hopes the chickn gets better with time.
I wrote this review for the Allandale Neighbor.
web&where: interwebs; 2438 west anderson lane; (512) 358-4758
what’s the deal? fake chickn sammiches (fast casual with outdoor seating)
overall: * (food*; drink-; atmosphere-; service-; instagrammability**)
– meh [think twice]
* OK [it’ll get the job done]
** good [solid neighborhood joint]
*** damn good [we’ll definitely be back]
**** yippity-yikes that was amazeballs [fantastic; one of the best]
***** holy sh!t [transcendental; best of the best] each $ = $10; cost is based on a typical dinner entrée and appetizer (no drinks)
each $ = $10; cost is based on a typical dinner entrée and appetizer (no drinks)