Meatless at the Barbecue Place

Most of the vegetarians at Shamus T Bones (1911 Truesdale St., Eureka) are on the walls — the taxidermied heads of deer, elk and buffalo looming in all directions. And yet the much-discussed Beyond Beef burger ($13.99 with a side) has landed here with its “bleeding” patty of coconut oil, proteins from soy, potato and wheat, and the weirdly meat-like soy leghemoglobin. That last one doesn’t sound like blood by accident. It’s a feat of science and food engineering that finally creates a narrative link between the menu and the shining and occasionally crackling Tesla coil towering in the dining room.

The presentation at Shamus isn’t as convincing to the eye, only lightly browned outside and looking more like a salmon patty. But the interior looks a hell of a lot like the crumble and fatty juiciness (thank the dots of coconut fat for that) of a medium burger. With the classic accompaniments of a sesame seed bun, a plank of dill pickle, red onion, tomato, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese (which would be improved by melting) and a little chipotle-lime mayonnaise, a bite with eyes closed is very much like a standard burger indeed. On its own, the flavor of the patty is closer to grilled chicken thigh than beef but the thing is it tastes good, particularly with the added smoke and char of Shamus’ grill.
Much has been made of the bloody color but it’s the texture that delivers satisfaction and the umami flavor that provides a base for those elements (pickle, tomato, onion) that make up a lot of what we think of as a burger experience. Will it fool anyone into thinking it’s the ground Angus offered two spots above on the menu? No. But it’s genuinely tasty and might go down a little easier under the glassy stare of that thoughtful-looking elk’s head.…

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