Two Grandview Heights-area restaurants are using mushrooms as a vehicle for flavor and texture -- and sustainability.
Preston's: A Burger Joint at Woodlands Backyard and Watershed Kitchen & Bar are participating in the James Beard Foundation Blended Burger Project by using mushrooms to conserve the use of beef.
Both Preston's and Watershed are trying to earn a best-burger title in the Blended Burger Project, which will be determined by a panel of judges who will consider the best five of 20 burgers that received the most online votes.
People can vote on their favorite burger through July 31 at jamesbeard.org/blendedburgerproject.
Preston's is sourcing its beef from Chardon’s New Creation Farm, via Butcher & Grocer in Grandview Heights, and shiitakes from Tiger Mushroom Farms in Blacklick.
Matt Heaggans, who owns Preston's with Cathie Randazzo, said he's been fiddling with mushroom "bacon," as he calls it, for about six years.
He uses the shiitakes for vegetarian potato skins at Preston's, which runs the kitchen for Woodlands Backyard, 668 Grandview Ave.
The blend is 75 percent beef and 25 percent ground, dehydrated and fried mushrooms. It is garnished with American cheese, red onion, lettuce, house-cured pickles, roma tomatoes and a tangy, spicy sauce.
The result ($6 for a single patty, $10 for a double) is wholly delicious, Heaggans said, and helps with Preston's mission of sustainability and using good products.
"We're doing our best to feel as good as we can about the food," he said. "It's a solid mission to figure out ways to consume less meat. That's a smart thing to do."
At Watershed, 1145 Chesapeake Ave., chef Jack Moore said Dee-Jay's Custom Butchering in Fredericktown is grinding beef and raw king oyster mushrooms together.
Moore said his "smash burger" ($18) uses two square-cut patties. It is additionally garnished with caramelized onions and fennel, taleggio "whiz" and chili-crisp aioli. The dish also is furnished with house-prepared bread-and-butter pickles and fresh-cut fries with a tangy rosemary dipping sauce.
"I think it just really works," Moore said. "The goal we were going for was a patty melt. It isn't a patty melt, but I think we nailed the flavor profile and it really works for us."