The chicken was good enough to fool us; the burger not so much.
I was dining with a colleague at Humbl, a new restaurant next to Windermere High School on Winter Garden Vineland Road. It’s a fast fooder that looks like many other quick-bite eateries but for one major twist, spelled out on the sign out front just below the misspelled name: plant based eats.
That means that it’s entirely meat free. So the chicken that my lunch companion chose as an add-on to the Humbl Bowl of rice, cauliflower and crushed pistachios, should have been listed as “chicken” on the menu. Or it could have been spelled chickun, you know, like sushi bars spell krab when it’s really surimi.
But even surimi wouldn’t fly here, or swim, if you will. So I was pretty sure the chicken wasn’t chicken. But I have to say the look and taste were legit even if the texture was the tell. Still, it was a good add-on, though honestly the bowl would have been filling enough with the tandoori spiced cauliflower, nutty brown rice and cool yogurt sauce.
The Humbl Burger that I chose for my entree wouldn’t have fooled anyone. It was mealy-textured and overwhelmed by the bun. The menu claims that it’s comprised of 17 ingredients, nothing that resembles the taste of ground beef.
But if you’re going plant-based in your diet – vegan, essentially – do you want your food to mimic animal flesh? I suppose some people do or else the Impossible Burger and other imitators wouldn’t be in such high demand.
Whatever. I won’t argue the benefits of eating a more vegetarian diet. It’s more healthful for the planet as well as the eater. And plant based has become a term du jour for aficionados of the diet.
Humbl is, ahem, the seed of an idea for a concept that looks franchise-able. The menu is designed by Matthew Kenney, a Food + Wine Magazine Best New Chef designee and, according to the website, “one of the world’s leading plant based chefs,” although judging from the accompanying picture he is actually meat based. He is involved in 25 restaurants worldwide, though this is the first Humbl. (Kenney had also been attached to Cafe 118 Degrees, a now-closed raw food restaurant that opened off Park Avenue in 2008.)
It’s a counter service operation and even though we were asked if the food was to go or to eat there, our dine-in order was served as if we had asked for takeaway. Still, all of the staff were friendly and cheerful.
Just don’t ask them, “Where’s the beef.”
Humbl is at 5845 Winter Garden Vineland Road, Windermere. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-349-8800.