Archive | McDonald’s RSS feed for this category

REVIEW: McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger

Written by | March 21, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald's Bacon Clubhouse Burger

Ronald McDonald clicked his pen. It was the first sound that caught his attention, even though the third quarter numbers had been flying around the conference room for half an hour. A uni-ball Jetstream. Click. The muffled adult-Peanuts voices chorused into a wave of nonsense. Click. Outside the window he could see a hawk. Click. He swallowed, his Adam’s apple knocked against his tie knot. Click. Ronald darkened his previously doodled Stussy “S” on his notepad. Click. Ronald gave a tiny nod. Click.

So another McDonald’s burger finally has special sauce. The Bacon Clubhouse Burger sports a new bun, bacon, and caramelized onions on top of the special sauce. That seems like it should be a bigger deal that McDonald’s put their formerly exclusive Big Mac topping on another thing. Maybe it’s not because customers can ask for it literally any time as a condiment and put it on any sandwich. Or even things that aren’t sandwiches. Bring it home. Put it on some Brussels sprouts. Put it on your cat. Put it on as a facemask, Mrs. Doubtfire style (Hellooo!). Or maybe freeing the sauce is not a big deal because it’s flanked by so many other new components that work together to make a pretty damn good fast food burger. Teamwork, guys. But f’reals, on this Miami Heat of a burger the special sauce is LeBron*.

The bun. Oh, the bun. So soft, so buttery. It sets the tone for the entire sandwich and is probably the softest roll in recent fast food memory. The bun of a burger is like a mattress. You want to have a good one if you’re gonna spend most of your time sleeping on/eating it. Though if the bun is the bed, there’s one hell of a mating ritual going on inside. The special sauce lends a light tang, never overpowering.

McDonald's Bacon Clubhouse Burger Topless

The caramelized onions are sweet and deepen the flavor of the sauce, combining with the slice of creamy white cheddar to coat the burger in a very full taste. The pieces of bacon show up every once in a while too, crispy and adding a bit of a salt kick. The sweetness of the sauce-onion combo overshadows the potential smoke and sugar power of the bacon a bit, but the pig also serves as a good textural change of pace. The tomato is fine. The lettuce is fine. Sorry, you guys don’t get in on the mattress fun, but you can watch if you like.

The actual burger patty is tricky. McDonald’s is using their Quarter Pounder patty here, and as any frequent McDonald’s patron knows, sometimes the meat can be a crapshoot. I ate two Bacon Clubhouse Burgers for this review and the first time I was treated to a rubbery, dry disc that really highlighted a problem. With this burger, McDonald’s is setting itself up to compete with other “fancy” burgers, and while the toppings elevate the Bacon Clubhouse in taste, it left me desiring some decent beef. It was like putting lipstick on a pig. I guess that’s a bit confusing, considering there’s actual swine on this. It was like putting lipstick on Robin Williams (It was a run by fruiting!).

The second time I had the burger it was leagues better. The meat was moist and served as a nice base for the meal. The problem remained, though. The star was most definitely the melded combination of toppings and the bun and not the flimsy, thin protein. Nothing like some so-so cow to remind us we’re still eating McDonald’s. That being said, both times I was very impressed by the depth of flavors in the sandwich and I think that it might be the best burger on the menu in a long time, if not ever.

*LeBron James is special sauce. Erik Spoelstra is the bun. Dwyane Wade is bacon. Chris Bosh is caramelized onions. Shane Battier is white cheddar. Ray Allen is tomato. The beef is Mario Chalmers. Lettuce is Norris Cole.

(Nutrition Facts – 720 calories, 360 calories from fat, 40 grams of fat, 15 grams saturated fat, 1.5 grams trans fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1470 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 39 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger
Purchased Price: $4.69
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great flavors. Cheese, special sauce, onions combine to elevate burger to next level. Burger bun is so soft.
Cons: Burger patty is unimproved.

Permalink | 19 Comments

REVIEW: McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe

Written by | February 17, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe

I believe you hit a certain age when you want a milkshake but you’re an adult now and unless it’s swilling an espresso with milk, that’s not going to go well with the senior partners. Hiding behind that tattered copy of the WSJ or the Financial Times is not an option either. I mean, look at yourself:

You have a dark blazer from Brooks Brothers that screams prep school chic but conservative enough for a Southern highball soiree.

A messenger bag/briefcase from Jack Spade.

That J. Crew navy blue and red striped banker’s tie.

Cashmere red socks from Banana Republic (Heritage edition, of course).

You also use words like “furthermore” or “paradigm” and “synergy” in normal conversations.

Furthermore, a milkshake could rupture that carefully put together image and how is Muffy going to react with you being caught slurping a milkshake and reading (gasp)The Atlantic? (Don’t worry I ain’t going to tell nobody.)

Enter the frappe, which according to Wikipedia (but old sport, you better not admit to looking up anything on there, lest you’ll be laughed off at your next squash match), is a foamed covered iced coffee drink that hails from the land of money strapped Greece.

Like Americans, we soar in taking something from elsewhere and make it, if not always better, patently ours. Just take a look at all the mango sauce/Sriracha reduction/flecks of truffles/sushi rolls that are made to have us believe that’s what the Japanese eat over in Tokyo. Canadians aren’t even safe with the eye-rolling varieties of poutine being ferreted by so called “hot” chefs. Anybody want to argue the merits of the Americanized Let Me In? Poor Swedes, we should have stopped at Ikea and that Swedish Chef from the Muppets.

Yet, the Mcdonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe here serves its purpose as a coffee drink and a “sorta” milkshake. Of course old boy, a coffee drink sounds much more sophisticated than a milkshake wouldn’t you say?

Normally I’m not a fan of foods that are literally named what they are. I mean would you eat a “hind leg of the pig that has been cured and topped with cheese” sandwich? Not me. A hind leg sounds too close to the butt and with the word cheese…it just creates an illustration best left in the dark recesses of your mind where forgotten embarrassments live.

However, this works here because McDonald’s is not only telling you that “hey, you can drink the luscious headiness of chocolate covered strawberries,” but they are making it sound way more ravishing than it is. And you will be tricked like me.

Besides, at $3.19 for a medium, that’s a bit way too pricey when you have to walk around with a plastic cup that has a McCafe logo seared on it. Remember image is everything sport. The point is, regarding the high price, you’re better off going to a Starbucks who do Frappucinos way better.

McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe  Topping

At first sight, there is the standard and inviting whipped cream on top and if you dislike whipped cream, you’re an evil person who probably breaks fertilized chicken eggs. The whipped cream is lovingly glazed with streams of strawberry syrup and it tastes like the strawberry sundae topping with hints of some kind of delightful berries. It’s actually not as sweet as I was expecting and that is a good thing.

This is where everything goes pear-shaped. First, the chocolate flavor is muddled and bland which is not helped by the even blander coffee taste. The chocolate chips residing in the drink are nice and bittersweet but do little, except to convince you that maybe you should have ordered a coffee flavored milkshake.

Although the strawberry syrup was slightly intense in the berry flavor, when drank with the chocolate coffee, it just fades away like internet sensations (anybody remember Little Superstar?). Even worse, the ice bits mixed in the chocolate chips create something that made me want to turn to the camera and have a tear roll down my cheek 1970’s public service announcement Native American style.

The McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe tasted like a watery cement mix of sadness and despair. The tiny ice crystals did nothing but dilute an already boring coffee drink. The concoction was so soupy and awful, I threw it out with the other incriminating documents.

To hell with wondering if you’re going to be invited to the annual partners’ dinner or if that preppy cowlick on the back of your head is just right. If you want a coffee, order a coffee. If you a want a milkshake, order a milkshake. If you want a combination, go elsewhere (like maybe Starbucks) and avoid this dreadful offering that will only confirm that all of us are going to hell in a spiffy bow-tie.

(Nutrition Facts – Medium – 630 calories, 240 calories from fat, 30 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 107 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 98 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: Medium/16 oz.
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: The strawberry syrup has hints of berries and is not as sweet as one would think. American Psycho. Who doesn’t love whipped cream? When a senior partner tells you a joke and you laugh. The chocolate chips are bittersweet. Wearing one of those suits from The Great Gatsby.
Cons: Bland coffee flavor. Psycho IV: The Beginning. Too many ice crystals mixed in that diluted an already bland coffee. When a senior partner tells you a joke and you have to laugh. Watery and sad. Speaking like you’re from The Great Gatsby.

Permalink | 6 Comments

REVIEW: McDonald’s Poutine (Canada)

Written by | January 7, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald's Poutine

Is there anything more Canadian than eating a poutine? Watching hockey, maybe. Or drinking coffee from Tim Horton’s. I’ve got a confession to make, though: I don’t particularly like hockey or Tim Horton’s. I know! I know! I’m pretty sure the only thing keeping me from being deported is my abiding love of poutine.

Seriously, what’s not to love? Fries. Check. Delicious. Cheese curds. Yep, delicious. Gravy. You know that’s delicious. So it’s no surprise that when you combine those elements, you (usually) wind up with a delicious final product.

Oddly enough, McDonald’s only recently started serving poutine in Canada (they’ve had it in Quebec for a while, but the rest of the country has been sadly poutine-free). This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize that McDonald’s was the last poutine hold-out among the big burger chains. That omission has finally been rectified.

It costs $3.99, which isn’t crazy expensive, nor is it a particularly great value for the amount of food you’re getting.

The biggest obstacle in McDonald’s quest to bring a great poutine to the masses: their very thinly-cut fries. Though McDonald’s fries are some of the better fast food fries out there, a poutine really requires a more substantial fry to hold up to the onslaught of gravy. And how does McDonald’s solve this issue? By doing nothing at all; sadly, the thin fries are just as problematic as you’d think.

To be fair, the idea of McD’s creating a separate type of fries just for their poutine is pretty much a pipe dream. It would be nice, but it’s never going to happen.

McDonald's Poutine Closeup

So yes, the fries sog up. In fact, they were soggy right from the first bite (though spending a couple of minutes taking pictures before I started eating probably didn’t help in that regard — but I suspect that this was a lost cause either way).

The gravy is a fairly generic chicken gravy; it tastes fine and gets the job done, but it’s nothing that anyone is going to get too excited over. If you’ve ever had a middling canned gravy from a supermarket, you know what to expect.

It also wasn’t quite hot enough. The heat level in a poutine is a bit of a balancing act; you don’t want it to be so hot that the curds completely liquefy, but they do need to soften a bit more than the curds did here.

The curds, however, are pretty good. The biggest test of a good cheese curd is whether or not it squeaks when you bite into it, and these had a decent amount of squeak.

And of course, kudos must go to McDonald’s for avoiding the cardinal sin of poutinedom — substituting shredded mozzarella for the cheese curds, or, even worse, shredded cheddar (the horror… the horror). Any restaurant that serves poutine with shredded cheese is basically announcing to the the world: “Hey, guess what? We’re garbage and we serve garbage!” Harsh? Maybe. True? You know it.

(Nutrition Facts – 510 calories, 30 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 1010 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fibre, 1 gram of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Poutine (Canada)
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: A passable poutine that doesn’t get anything horrifically wrong. Squeaky curds. Will satisfy a poutine craving in a pinch.
Cons: Thin fries that immediately sog up. Boring gravy. Not hot enough. A little overpriced for what you’re getting.

Permalink | 5 Comments

QUICK REVIEW: McDonald’s McCafe White Chocolate Mocha

Written by | December 12, 2013

Topics: 6 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald's White Chocolate Mocha

Purchased Price: $3.60
Size: Large
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Chocolatey, milky, and coffee flavor equally balanced. Available with nonfat milk, which will make the nutritional numbers below less eye-popping. Comes topped with whipped cream. Gave me a nice caffeine jolt, but that could’ve been due to the fact that I drank a large one. Made using espresso from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.
Cons: Couldn’t taste white chocolate; it’s tastes more like a regular mocha. Might not have enough coffee flavor for some. Whipped cream melts quickly when lid is placed on top. Holy crap! I drank a large one! I drank 9 grams of saturated fat!

McDonald's White Chocolate Mocha Closeup

Nutrition Facts: Large (w/whole milk) – 480 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 70 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber 65 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

Permalink | 1 Comment

REVIEW: McDonald’s Jalapeño Kicker Quarter Pounder

Written by | December 3, 2013

Topics: 8 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald’s Jalapen?o Kicker Quarter Pounder

Having lived in test markets for both Wendy’s (Salt Lake City) and McDonald’s (Baltimore), I’ve come to develop something of an ambivalent attitude towards newly developed menu items. On one hand, the intrepid explorer within me loves the idea of being one of the first people to experience what might be the next great innovation in fast food. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than falling in love with a new burger or sandwich concept, only to see it disappear and never go national.

Whoever said, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” clearly didn’t eat fast food.

With that being the case, I’ve let my heart and stomach fall for the newest McDonald’s sandwich concept, the Jalapeño Kicker. With pickled jalapeño slices, crunchy jalapeño strips, and pepper jack cheese, the Jalapeño Kicker packs a triple threat of the piquant pepper, relying on a new cream cheese sauce for cooling relief. The toppings are currently being tested on Quarter Pounder and Premium Chicken sandwiches in Baltimore and Colorado, but if McDonald’s website is any indicator, they will be going national real soon. At least I hope so, because canceling the roll out of these now would push my jaded fast food love for test menu items into Taylor Swift album territory.

That’s a pretty significant statement coming from a guy who doesn’t exactly consider himself a heat-seeker. I think that’s why I like the new concept so much. For those of you worrying about this sandwich wimping out and providing the kind of kick from, say, your three year old sister, be not afraid. This thing kicks you like Adam Vinatieri from 52 yards out, but rather than being some mindless atomic heat without flavor or texture, the kick comes in multiple layers.

McDonald’s Jalapen?o Kicker Quarter Pounder Topless

The dominant heat comes from the pickled jalapeños, which build in intensity and leave a lasting but flavorful burn after each bite. The crispy jalapeños provide an initial crunch and zesty French fry like flavor right off the bat, while the pepper jack cheese gives a slightly milky note and additional spice before getting to the meat.

I realize there are some people who hate the taste of McDonald’s burgers, and while I’ll concede that they’re far from juicy, I find their seasoning and ‘meaty’ taste to be more enjoyable than Wendy’s and even Burger King’s burgers. It’s that meaty and slightly sweet taste which provides a good counterpoint to the acidic heat of the jalapeño, benefitting in turn from the cream cheese sauce.

McDonald’s Jalapen?o Kicker Quarter Pounder Crispy Jalapeno

Speaking of which, let me just say it’s about damn time a fast food chain put cream cheese on a burger. With a subtle sweetness and milky freshness that just tastes right on a burger, the sauce transforms the prerequisite tomato and lettuce into tasteful components, and helps to bind all the flavors of the burger together. The sauce is a bit looser than regular cream cheese but not nearly as gloopy as mayo, and amazingly, it doesn’t drown the crispy jalapeños.

The jalapeños have this zesty and fried corn flavor that reminded me a lot of one of my favorite snacks, Corn Nut Chips, while also having a strong aftertaste of French fries. I don’t know how they’re made or why it’s taken McDonald’s so long to develop them, but if you’re not adding them to every McDonald’s sandwich you buy from now on, there is something seriously wrong with your brain.

McDonald’s Jalapen?o Kicker Quarter Pounder Side shot

Unless you absolutely hate jalapeño, it should be apparent that this is a pretty good fast food burger. I can’t quite give it the ultimate score, however, mostly on account of the lack of baconage. Likewise, I found myself wanting something beneath to burger patty to distribute some of the flavor and heat. Already top-heavy, I have to wonder if moving the cream cheese and crispy jalapeños beneath the patty wouldn’t be a better construct. Finally, McDonald’s two main burger flaws, a dense bun and cheese that takes upwards of a century to melt, bring it back down to Earth and reminds you of the main differences between fast food and fast casual burgers.

These quips aside, this is my favorite Quarter Pounder. The crispy jalapeño strips and cream cheese sauce are great new additions and give the burger just the right combination of texture and flavor contrast to make it something work seeking out. I’m just hoping that the research and development powers that be see it the same way, and don’t take away another great test menu item from my grasp.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on McDonald’s website. Menu board lists 550 calories.)

Item: McDonald’s Jalapeño Kicker Quarter Pounder
Purchased Price: $4.19
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Crispy jalapeño strips might just be the best add-on McDonald’s has ever developed for a sandwich. Strong, but not kill-you-strong triple jalapeño kick. Cream cheese sauce has smooth and creamy taste which helps to cool the heat. New Quarter Pounder variety that’s not just repackaging other ingredients.
Cons: Burger is top-heavy. McDonald’s premium burger buns suck. Cheese that doesn’t melt unless you stick it against the heater in your car for an hour. Could seriously use bacon. Risking test menu item disillusionment.

Permalink | 6 Comments