REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche

Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche boasts big B-word buzz by bundling bankable blends between boring bread and beef.

You know what? Forget this.

Wendy’s used up all the B-related alliteration I can handle. No more B-words for the rest of the review. They are henceforth banished. Oops. Bungled it. Argh, bollocks! How do the Crips do it? They avoid saying words that start with B … Hmm, do Bloods favor Red Robin?

Gang-related fast food questions aside, Wendy’s trotted out the Bacon & Blue on Brioche for us. Knowing Wendy’s history with blue offerings, this seemed like it would be a treat. (I, however, never tried the old Bacon & Blue Burger from five years ago). How did it fare? It’s unique and bold, if not a little bit unbalanced, like a celebrity.

The first B is for bacon, and the strips in this burger definitely delivered on the crispy texture and smoky flavor. The bacon seems to be a popular item here. The person ahead of me in line and the person behind me both ordered Baconators. They then both high-fived over my head and stared me down while shaking their heads slowly.

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche 2

Which brings me to the second B, the blue cheese flavors. The item sports both blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese aioli, and that might have been too much. The blue cheese combo has a back-of-the-throat coating quality that is interesting and hits immediately upon first bite. While the aioli does a good job of melding the flavors together, the combo also displays a minor, pungent blue cheese stink. This proves to be particularly powerful and overwhelms the flashes of bacon taste. It spins the entire thing a little out of whack, although the occasional balanced bites were pretty decent. The spring mix is slightly bitter and does a very good job of breaking up the monotony.

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche 3

The beef in my burger was the weak point. Next to the great, pretty flavors of the eponymous “B & B,” the ground beef was mostly flavorless, which is sad because I think the blue cheese’s smooth flavor would’ve shined if consumed with better tasting beef.

Again, there were a few bites that seemed to balance everything well, including the beef, but the planets did not align as much as I would have liked. The third B in the name, brioche, is fine. It’s shiny and has a slight crisp on the outside, which adds a nice textural flair to the entire meal.

This item is definitely not going to have universal appeal and for that fast food version of bravery, Wendy’s gets a high five from me. High five, guys.

Oh, everybody leaving me hanging?

What, nobody else in this Wendy’s is ordering the same thing as me?

I’m not putting it down until someone slaps five with me. I refuse to use a word that starts with B until someone high fives me. See? It’s easy. I could be a Crip. Unless that means I can never go to Red Robin again.

In that case, bye bye, bros.

(Nutrition Facts – 650 calories, 39 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 1290 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 34 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche
Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good flavors in some bites. Unique flavors.
Cons: Blue cheese is a little overwhelming. Bacon gets lost. Burger meat flavorless.

REVIEW: McDonald’s CBO (Canada)

McDonalds CBO (Canada)

McDonald’s Canada is pushing the CBO pretty hard. Where I live, at least, there are billboards all over town proudly proclaiming this sandwich to be “the next legend.” Obviously, McDonald’s has high hopes.

I should probably note that the Canadian CBO is, oddly enough, different than the CBO introduced in the States a couple of years ago. This one is a chicken sandwich, topped with CBO sauce, lettuce, bacon, and crispy onions, served on an onion bun.

The most noteworthy thing about this sandwich is probably the weirdly hard time I had ordering one.

At the first McDonald’s I visited (yes, there was more than one), I ordered it, sat down, opened the box, and found that a few of the crispy onions had fallen out of the sandwich. They were green, which I found odd; even odder was how spicy they were. Clearly, these were not crispy onions at all, but crispy jalapeños.

I brought this to the attention of the confused-looking girl behind the register. A manager emerged from the back. Eventually, he told me that they ran out of crispy onions and decided to sub in the jalapeños instead.

That strikes me as an odd decision, since crispy onions and jalapeños taste completely different, but hey, I don’t run a McDonald’s. What do I know?

He offered to make me another sandwich without the jalapeños. I told him no, I needed to try the sandwich as it’s supposed to be. He stared at me plaintively. “Man, I’m going to have to throw it out!” Though I was tempted to ask him how, exactly, that was my problem, I instead politely apologized and eventually wound up with some cash in my pocket, on my way to a second McDonald’s.

McDonalds CBO (Canada) 2

Thankfully, there were no jalapeño shenanigans to be found at the second location, so I was able to try the real, non-adulterated CBO. The End.

Oh wait, I guess not The End, this is a review, isn’t it? I still have to tell you about the actual sandwich.

It’s fine, if a bit boring. Honestly, my jalapeño-related mishaps were probably more interesting than the sandwich itself.

I’m not sure if the chicken patty is the same one they use in the McChicken; I suspect that it isn’t (it looks a little different, at least), but it tastes very similar. As far as reconstituted chicken sandwiches go, I’ve certainly had worse, but there really isn’t much that pops out about it. It’s pretty bland.

I will say, however, that chicken in my sandwich was piping hot, and clearly freshly cooked. That’s basically the McDonald’s equivalent of finding a four-leaf clover, so that was fun.

McDonalds CBO (Canada) 3

McDonald’s describes the CBO sauce as a “creamy pepper sauce,” and it basically just tastes like regular mayo with flecks of pepper in it. If you told me it was McChicken sauce, I’d have no reason not to believe you.

As for the bacon, it’s actually bacon pieces instead of actual slices of bacon, which was probably not a great idea — the soft little bits get lost among the other elements of the CBO, and add almost nothing to the sandwich, other than a vague saltiness.

Happily, the crispy onions that I worked so hard to try suited the sandwich pretty well, and were probably the CBO’s most assertive flavour. Between that and the onion bun, this sandwich definitely earns the O in CBO.

McDonalds CBO (Canada) 4

That pretty much sums this sandwich up, in fact — it tastes like an oniony McChicken. But I guess Oniony McChicken doesn’t quite have the same ring as CBO, so here we are.

I’m honestly a little bit baffled that McDonald’s is giving a sandwich as boring as the CBO such a strong marketing push. It isn’t bad, but there’s just nothing about it that’s particularly memorable.

(Nutrition Facts – 680 calories, 36 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.4 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1160 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 10 grams of sugar, and 27 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s CBO (Canada)
Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tasty crispy onions. Decent quality chicken.
Cons: Boring sandwich. Soft, pointless bacon bits. Plain sauce. McDonald’s running out of ingredients and making random substitutions.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Buttery Jack (Classic and Bacon & Swiss)

Jack in the Box Classic Buttery Jack

A Buttery Jack sounds like one of those things you shouldn’t look up on Urban Dictionary, but they are also burgers you should look up whenever you’re near a Jack in the Box.

Jack in the Box’s Buttery Jack comes in two varieties — Classic and Bacon & Swiss.

Both feature a new signature 1/4 lb beef patty that’s topped with melted garlic herb butter and a new toasted gourmet bun. The Classic is also topped with provolone cheese, a creamy tomato sauce, green leaf lettuce, and tomato slices. The Bacon & Swiss also has strips of hickory-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, and a creamy bacon mayo.

If you’re trying to decide which one to try first, go with the Classic.

The beef patty in my Classic Buttery Jack had, I swear, a homemade beef patty flavor to them. It was slightly peppery with a strong beefy flavor. The garlic herb butter sounds like it could overwhelm the entire burger, but it didn’t. It’s mild enough that it enhances the flavor of the beef patty.

Jack in the Box Classic Buttery Jack Closeup

But the ingredient I believe makes the burger stand out is the creamy tomato sauce. It’s sweet, tangy, and tastes somewhat like French dressing. And just like the garlic herb butter, it doesn’t overwhelm the burger.

I also liked the new gourmet bun. It’s dense with a little sweetness, and, even with all the smashing I did while handling it, it ended up being quite sturdy. The provolone, which has been used in Jack’s deli sandwiches, didn’t do much in this burger, except keep the tomato slices from falling out. And the green leaf lettuce was more like yellow-green leaf lettuce. Although, to be fair, yellow-green is better than Jack’s usual white-green lettuce.

The Classic Buttery Jack has a lot of flavor and it’s the best burger I’ve ever had from Jack in the Box.

Jack in the Box Bacon & Swiss Buttery Jack

While I think the Classic is great, the Bacon & Swiss is a step down, but it’s still good.

The creamy bacon mayo has tiny bits of bacon, which help accentuate the six strips of bacon under the bun. Yes, SIX strips. I don’t know if I received bonus bacon by accident, because six seems like a lot, but they gave the burger a bold salty, porky flavor. I do enjoy Jack in the Box’s bacon (it’s definitely better than the bacon they used to have), but in the big chain fast food world, I do prefer McDonald’s Applewood-smoked bacon which is thick and usually crispy on the edges.

Jack in the Box Bacon & Swiss Buttery Jack Closeup

The beef patty in my Bacon & Swiss didn’t taste as good as the one in the Classic. It was a bit overcooked, but the garlic herb butter helped cover the patty’s dryness. The melted Swiss cheese does give the burger a little creaminess and cheesy goodness, but it’s really the bacon, beef, and butter show. With all of that said, even with the garlic herb butter, it doesn’t taste vastly different than other bacon cheeseburgers.

The Buttery Jacks come wrapped in paper and I highly recommend you keep them on while eating the burger…unless you want to slide down poles faster, because the melted garlic herb butter will get all over your hands.

You don’t want that garlic herb butter on your hands. You want to keep it on these Buttery Jacks because it makes them taste really good.

(Nutrition Facts – Classic – 816 calories, 52 grams of fat, 23 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat, 128 milligrams of cholesterol, 1148 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein. Bacon & Swiss – 887 calories, 59 grams of fat, 25 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat, 1346 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 42 grams of protein.)

Item: Jack in the Box Buttery Jack (Classic and Bacon & Swiss)
Purchased Price: $4.99* (Classic)
Purchased Price: $5.39* (Bacon & Swiss)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Classic)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Bacon & Swiss)
Pros: Classic is the best Jack in the Box burger I’ve ever had. Garlic herb butter and creamy tomato sauce. Nice sturdy bun with little sweetness. Bacon & Swiss came with SIX bacon strips. Bacon mayo has tiny bits of bacon in it.
Cons: Expect to get garlic herb butter on your hands if you take it out of its paper wrapper. Provolone didn’t provide much flavor in the Classic Buttery Jack. Bacon & Swiss doesn’t taste vastly different than other bacon cheeseburgers.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich

I know few things about Hawaii. I do know the most famous celebrity is that Hawaiian Punch guy with that crazy hat. I also know that Hawaiian luxury resorts will kindly let you sleep for free when you go through a bad breakup (thanks Sarah Marshall). And I know that King’s Hawaiian bread is the best I’ve stuffed in my mouth since challah with its eggy pleasures.

Intrigued by the small four packs sitting harmlessly by the supermarket deli, they sat there engulfed in the smells of fried chicken and briny olives. The first time I picked them up was a lark but when the slightly sweet, rich taste seduced me, I was forever captive. I rarely leave the supermarket without buying a 4-pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls or sandwich buns.

I also have a strong penchant for fried fish sandwiches. While most gravitate towards Quarter Pounders or Big Macs, I go for the Filet-O-Fish. Even though it contains a lifeless fried rectangle with a flaky nondescript soylent green kind of protein, I love the Filet-O-Fish.

So imagine my fervor when I discovered the Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe sandwich? Too many apostrophes aside, I was so excited that I immediately drove to the nearest Arby’s.

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich 2

The sandwich was almost four and a half inches in diameter and the bun was similar to the King’s Hawaiian sandwich rolls. There was no mistaking that the roll made an impact visually because that slight sheen demanded that I pay fucking attention. I sank my partially brushed teeth into the softly toasted bun and into the crispy and flaky “wild caught Alaskan Pollock.” I can hear you scoffing. I am too. Regardless, if the fish was wild, I was impressed because it was not greasy.

Also, the rolls did not disappoint. They were slightly sweet, soft, and rich. They delivered, but that, surprisingly, contributed to the problem.

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich 3

The sweet bread combined with the sweeter tartar sauce overwhelmed the sandwich. I couldn’t even taste the pickled chunks in the tartar sauce and it just killed the Alaskan pollock. There was too much tartar sauce on my tomato and lettuce.

The textures were pleasant enough but the slightly sweet bread on top of the sweeter sauce just shoved the fish aside like my Mom does when I try to hug her. Worse, the cheddar cheese was gloppy and lifeless. It wasn’t melted enough and it made no impression on the fish or the prized King’s Hawaiian roll.

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich 4

I was a bit sad the Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe didn’t live up to my expectation. Additionally, the $4.25 price tag is a bit too pricey and makes the term “Deluxe” really seem like an overstatement. The sandwich doesn’t balance as well as McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. In fact, I’ve had government cafeteria fish sandwiches that tasted better. It’s a tolerable sandwich if you ignore that “deluxe” price, but otherwise I don’t think it’s really worth it.

(Nutrition Facts – 790 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 1140 milligrams of sodium, 89 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein.)

Item: Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Arby’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Wild caught Alaskan Pollock was crispy and flaky. The King’s Hawaiian roll was sweet and rich.
Cons: Too much tartar sauce. The lifeless cheese slice. Deluxe price.

REVIEW: Burger King Pepperoni Bacon Whopper (Canada)

Burger King Pepperoni Bacon Whopper (Canada)

If nothing else, I’ll say this about the Burger King location I visited: they’re super efficient.

I visited around noon, and they were quite busy. After I ordered, I walked about three steps to the left, to the area where they bring the food. There was a burger sitting on a tray. Since I had literally just finished ordering my burger seconds ago, it didn’t even occur to me that it was mine.

There was a smiling man standing behind the counter. We locked eyes. Why was this guy staring at me? Didn’t he have anything better to do? Was my fly down? The man pointed to the tray and told me it was mine. I don’t know if the words just didn’t compute, or if he wasn’t speaking loudly enough, but I asked him to repeat it. He did.

This still made no sense to me. Even if the burger was pre-made, how did he get it from under the heat lamp and over to my tray so quickly? There was maybe two seconds between me finishing up my order and walking over to where he was standing. So I clarified: “No, I ordered the Pepperoni Bacon Whopper.” His smile didn’t quite fade, but it wavered. He was clearly starting to lose his patience. “Yes sir, that’s yours.”

My eyes narrowed. I thanked the guy — more a question than a statement — then picked up the tray and took it to a table.

I unwrapped the burger, half expecting to find a regular Whopper. Glancing at the sad-looking burger in front of me, flattened and misshapen, I initially thought I was right. But what’s this? Is that a piece of bacon poking out from the bun? I took a peek inside, and yep, there was the pepperoni.

You’re probably wondering, “Why are you dwelling on this? It’s a fast food place; of course the food came fast.” Fair enough. Maybe you had to be there, but it was a startling display of efficiency. I honestly wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or horrified.

Anyway: the burger. The Pepperoni Bacon Whopper is, as the title implies, a Whopper with pepperoni and bacon on it. It’s also got a couple of slices of American cheese, because, yeah, why not?

My conundrum as to whether or not to be impressed or horrified was quickly answered after I took my first bite: horrified. Because not only was this burger not hot, it wasn’t even warm -– it was room temperature. I don’t know exactly how long it was sitting out, but I’m going to say a while.

I will charitably call it lukewarm, but in reality, it was leaning more towards cold. I considered asking them to make me a new one, but by the time this thought occurred to me, I was already two or three bites in, and the idea of losing my progress and starting over from scratch with a brand new burger was too much for me to handle. I earned those bites; no one was going to take them from me.

The patty itself was easily the burger’s worst offender. It was unpleasantly bitter, with that distinctively acrid, stayed-on-the-grill-for-a-couple-of-minutes-too-long flavor that characterizes pretty much any hamburger you get from Burger King these days.

It was also insanely dry. And I don’t just mean dry in that fairly typical way that characterizes most fast food burgers. No, this wasn’t that. This was capital-D Dry. I’ve had a pretty ridiculous amount of hamburgers in my lifetime, and this was probably one of the driest ones I’ve ever had.

Burger King Pepperoni Bacon Whopper (Canada) 2

It was tough, with a pebbly texture and a slightly gamy, vaguely off flavour that peeked through whenever you weren’t tasting the charred bitterness. It’s a flavour that announces in no uncertain terms that this is shoddy beef that has doubtless been sitting in a drawer for a disturbingly long period of time.

The pepperoni was pretty good, at least. It was standard-issue pepperoni, with that very familiar flavour that you’ve no doubt tasted on hundreds of pizza slices over your lifetime. On a better burger it would have been a bit overwhelming, but here I was very happy for the flavour of the patty to be overwhelmed; my arms were wide open. It wasn’t overwhelming enough, in fact. The taste of that patty still managed to muscle its way through and go straight for my gag reflex.

The thin slices of bacon, however, never had a chance. I knew they were there because I saw them, but I couldn’t taste them. At all.

The cheese, though it added some creaminess, also got lost among the burger’s more assertive flavours.

The other toppings (the standard Whopper veggies, ketchup, and mayo) were fine. The tomato slices weren’t mealy and the lettuce had some vague crunchiness, so I’m going to call that a win. The bun was a little bit clammy, but otherwise okay.

As a parting gift, the burger left an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste that lingered for most of the afternoon.

So no, sorry Burger King — you continue to be the Andy Dick of fast food chains. You were okay in the ’90s, but no one wants you around any more. The sad thing is, putting pepperoni on a burger is a decent enough idea, but to quote Switch from the Matrix: not like this. Not like this.

(Nutrition Facts – 860 calories, 56 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 2.5 grams of trans fat, 145 milligrams of cholesterol, 1590 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of sugar, and 40 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Pepperoni Bacon Whopper (Canada)
Purchased Price: $5.99 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: A burger that’s ready mere seconds after ordering it, as if by wizardry. Tasty pepperoni. Fresh condiments.
Cons: Apparently even a wizard cannot conjure up a burger and make it taste hot and fresh. Bitter, over-charred, absurdly dry burger patty. Pointless bacon. Terrible aftertaste.