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REVIEW: McDonald’s Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich

Written by | March 27, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald's Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich

For years, I believed the “special sauce” on the McDonald’s Big Mac deserved better.

It deserved a better name because “special sauce” doesn’t sound so…um, special. Let’s be honest, Grimace Snot Sauce would’ve been a better name. I also believed the tangy sauce deserved to be sauce-gunned on sandwiches other than the Big Mac.

Well, almost 50 years since the introduction of the Big Mac, we’re finally get Grimace Snot Sauce on sandwiches that aren’t a Big Mac and don’t have beef. (Although, hardcore fast food aficionados would wipe the Grimace Snot Sauce from their mouths and then point out that there’s been Chicken Big Macs in other countries.) Why hasn’t it happened sooner? Fear of a special sauce shortage, cannibalization of Big Mac sales, or will Ray Kroc’s ghost appear and warn us that the end of the world is nigh? I dunno.

What I do know is that I’m glad it happened, even though it could mean the end of the world, because McDonald’s new line of Bacon Clubhouse sandwiches are damn tasty, especially the Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich.

As you can see in the pictures above, there’s a lot going on with this sandwich. Along with the secret sauce, the sandwich is also made up of lettuce, tomatoes, a crispy chicken breast filet, a slice of white cheddar, Applewood smoked bacon, and caramelized onion on an artisan bun.

McDonald's Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich Bun

Let’s start off with that bun. The first thing I noticed about it was how shiny it was. The top glistens like the skin of a liar on the witness stand, but it isn’t greasy. The two halves are toasted, which help prevent the bun from falling apart. While eating the sandwich, I could’ve sworn the bun had a slight sweet bread vibe to it, but whatever the bun has, it’s good, I want it available with every McDonald’s sandwich, and it makes the other McDonald’s buns taste like what they give with water to prisoners.

McDonald's Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich Top

Let’s move on to the bacon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, McDonald’s Applewood smoked bacon is quite good for fast food bacon. It’s thick, has a wonderful salty porky flavor, and there’s a crispiness to them along the edges, which was absent in the previous pork strips McDonald’s called “bacon.” My sandwich came with four strips, which, after reading other reviews, seems to be an anomaly. (Also, an anomaly, the two tomato slices that came with my sandwich.)

The special sauce’s sweet and tangy flavor goes extremely well with the somewhat thick crispy chicken breast filet, which is the same chicken in McDonald’s other premium chicken sandwiches. So well that I still can’t believe McDonald’s didn’t go sauce gun trigger happy on their other sandwiches sooner. The crispy chicken breast filet was for the most part crispy on the edges and wasn’t dried out. The slice of white cheddar didn’t make an impact with this sandwich. Its flavor got lost among the sauce and caramelized grilled onions.

Speaking of the caramelized grilled onions, a part of me wishes they weren’t included because they took away some of the secret sauce’s flavor. But that can easily be fixed by asking for extra sauce or holding the onions. I mean, the sandwich has so much going on that I don’t think the onions would be missed.

The McDonald’s Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich is the best tasting chicken sandwich on the McDonald’s menu. Some of you may scoff at its premium price, which is in the $4.50-$6 range, but I think it’s worth the price and possible special sauce shortage, cannibalization of Big Mac sales, or the end of the world.

(Nutrition Facts – 750 calories, 340 calories from fat, 38 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1750 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 36 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.89*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Best tasting McDonald’s chicken sandwich. The artisan bun is better than any other bun McDonald’s offers. Meaty, thick, and slightly crispy Applewood smoked bacon strips. Secret sauce goes wonderfully with the crispy chicken filet. Green lettuce.
Cons: Caramelized grilled onions seem unnecessary and they take away some of the secret sauce’s flavor. McDonald’s not sauce-gunning their secret sauce on other sandwiches sooner. Will be pricey to some.

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

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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.

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REVIEW: KFC Big Boss (Canada)

Written by | March 19, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Fast Food, KFC

KFC The BIg Boss 2

When it comes to fast food gimmicks, few items can claim to be quite as successful as KFC’s Double Down, the cheese and bacon sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken as a bun. That thing hit the cultural zeitgeist like nobody’s business, and for a while there it seemed like everyone was talking about it.

It was with that in mind, I’m sure, that KFC Canada introduced the Big Boss, which is essentially a Big Mac, but with fried chicken patties instead of beef. It’s a tantalizing proposition that sounds just crazy enough to be delicious.

If you’ve had a Big Mac, then you know exactly what to expect: the shredded lettuce, pickles, onions, Thousand Island-esque special sauce, the three layers of bun, and the single slice of cheese. It’s literally a Big Mac with fried chicken instead of beef; KFC has done nothing to shake up the flavours to make it more chicken-appropriate.

I was actually pretty excited to try the Big Boss. I like excessive novelty sandwiches more than I should probably admit. You wanna replace the bun in a hamburger with grilled cheese sandwiches? Yeah, I’ll eat that! Wanna add more patties than any reasonable burger should contain? Sure, I’ll try it. Replace the bun with fried chicken? I’m all over that.

So it is with no small amount of sadness that I must report that the Big Boss is not particularly good.

KFC The Big Boss

The first thing I noticed was that this was maybe the most haphazardly-assembled sandwich I’ve ever been served at a fast food joint. I was planning on cutting it in half so I could get a picture of the midsection, but the whole thing was so precarious that I was honestly afraid that it would crumble into pieces if I messed with it too much. But of course, you can’t expect anything too pristine from a place like KFC; what really matters is the taste.

The patties are similar to what you’d find in a Big Crunch, but thinner. The breading is standard KFC fare, and it’s expectedly tasty. But man, the chicken itself is absurdly dry. It is surprisingly, unpleasantly dry. I’m not sure if it’s the thinness of the chicken or what, but it is considerably more dry than a standard KFC Big Crunch patty.

Compounding the dryness issue was the surfeit of bread which, like the chicken, was weirdly dry. I think it might have been a little bit stale, or maybe it was microwaved? I have a hard time accounting for how it got so dry. The lack of moisture from the sandwich itself certainly didn’t help matters.

My first few bites were just a punishing mass of dry chicken, bread, and unmelted cheese, not dissimilar in texture to trying to eat a handful of saltines. Things improved somewhat once I hit a pocket of sauce, onions, and pickles around the centre of the sandwich. Even then, this just made me long for the comparative magnificence of a Big Mac, as the sauce tasted almost identical to Mac sauce. I like Big Macs well enough, but it’s pretty much the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten compared to this ill-advised monstrosity of a sandwich.

I got unlucky, with a sandwich that appeared as though it had been assembled by an arthritic chimp. But even if it had been picture perfect, I still don’t think it would have been particularly good. The flavours just never cohere in any meaningful way. Beef and chicken are two very different things; just because something works with one, doesn’t mean it’s going to work with the other.

Sadly, the Big Boss is more conversation piece than viable sandwich. I’m sure a lot of people will try it, just out of sheer curiosity (the “LOLWTF a Big Mac with fried chicken patties!” factor), but I can’t imagine many will order it a second time. It’s pretty bad.

(Nutrition Facts – 600 calories, 30 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 grams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 7 grams of sugar, 29 grams of protein.)

Item: KFC Big Boss (Canada)
Purchased Price: $4.99 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tasty breading on the chicken patties. Sauce tastes a lot like a Big Mac’s.
Cons: Dry chicken. Dry bread. Dry overload. Unmelted cheese. Big Mac flavours taste incongruous with chicken. Messy if not assembled properly. Makes the ghost of Colonel Sanders cry.

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REVIEW: Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel

Written by | March 17, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Fast Food, Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel 1

I think I’ve mentioned before that, despite being a Canadian and thus being obligated to love Tim Hortons, I’m just not a big fan. That’s not to say that I hate the place, but I don’t drink coffee, and there are only a handful of their doughnuts that I actually enjoy (including the tragically departed Walnut Crunch — good night sweet prince; you were too beautiful for this world).

I won’t even go into their savoury foods, which I will charitably describe as hit-and-miss.

So it was with some trepidation that I tried their pretzel bagel. It seems like an odd idea, though soft pretzels are already somewhat bagel-like, so it’s actually not such a weird amalgamation. Pretzels and bagels are even prepared in a similar way; in each case, the dough is boiled before baking.

I tried it a couple of ways. The signage for the bagel says to try it with their new mustard spread (described on the bill, oddly, as “Mustard Butter”). So I ate the first one in the store, toasted and spread with the mustard.

Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel 2

I also took a couple home to try plain; this is where the bagel really shined. Fresh, with a lightly crisp exterior and a chewy interior, it is addictive. I tore off a piece of one in the car just to see what it tasted like plain, and it was so good that I wound up eating the entire thing right there and then. It basically tastes like a really good soft pretzel, but with a bit more heft.

The toasted bagel didn’t fare quite as well. The toasting turns the lightly crisp exterior full-out crunchy, and makes the bagel’s interior less chewy and more fluffy. It becomes a different beast altogether, and one I didn’t enjoy nearly as much. I also think all the rock salt fell off in the toaster; the untoasted ones had quite a bit on top (which added a welcome punch of flavour), but the toasted one was pretty much naked.

As for the mustard spread, it had a buttery, weakly mustardy flavour that was far too mild to make much of an impact. Maybe it would have worked if there had been about double the amount, but as it was it was pretty useless.

If you’re a fan of soft pretzels, this is a complete no-brainer. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll like it. Skip the mustard and skip the toasting; just order the bagel as-is and take a bite. You’ll thank me later. It’s basically like a pretzel and a bagel had a baby in the best way possible, and it’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever had from Tim Hortons.

(Nutrition Facts – Bagel – 310 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 780 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 4 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein. Mustard Spread (12 grams) – 60 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, and 0.2 grams of protein,.)

Item: Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel
Purchased Price: $1.19 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Tim Hortons
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Lightly crisp exterior. Delightfully chewy, flavourful interior. Tastes like a really good soft pretzel.
Cons: Toasting kind of ruins it. Mustard spread has a weak flavour and is completely superfluous. The Walnut Crunch is gone (this has nothing to do with this bagel, it’s more of a general life con).

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QUICK REVIEW: Taco Bell XXL Steak Crispy Taco

Written by | March 14, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, Fast Food, Taco Bell

Taco Bell XXL Crispy Steak Taco

Purchased Price: $3.89*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Holy cow there’s a lot of steak in this taco. Steak is easy to chew; no tough parts. Taco shell seemed sturdier than Taco Bell’s regular taco shell. It’s noticeably larger than a regular Taco Bell Crunchy Taco. Surprisingly filling. To be honest, it kind of makes me wish there was a XXL Doritos Locos Taco.
Cons: Reduced fat sour cream dampens the avocado ranch sauce’s flavor, making the whole taco taste a bit boring. Steak itself didn’t have much flavor. Because of its size, it needed two Taco Bell sauce packets to give it better flavor. Like with the Taco Supreme, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese fall out too easily.

*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.

Taco Bell XXL Crispy Steak Taco Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 430 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 680 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 24 grams of protein.

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