Less than a football field away from the closest McDonald’s to my apartment is a Wendy’s. Said Wendy’s has a sign touting fresher is better. Said sign corresponds to a commercial Wendy’s runs about their fresh never frozen beef. Said frozen beef is a reference to the McDonald’s 90 yards away.
In case you haven’t heard, McDonald’s is making the great leap forward. And, apparently, that leap to fresh beef starts with the rollout of the Signature Crafted Garlic White Cheddar Burger.
Which is convenient because if the moon is made out of cheese, and the cow jumps over the moon, it really is one small leap for mookind. But I digress.
Say what you will about fast food burgers in general, but McDonald’s burgers have (had?) a specific taste and texture that some people happened to like in a kind of lowbrow comfort fast food sort of way.
The new patties are definitely a step away from that. With visible surface browning and what appeared to be sea salt on the patty, the beef looked like something I could have made at home. And the taste is altogether beefy —- more nuanced, rounded, and meaty than I remember. But the patty, aside from tasting drier than the average Quarter Pounder I’ve had in the past, didn’t taste well-seasoned or particularly succulent. As someone who grills a lot of burgers myself, I’d compare it to ground sirloin. Beefier, yes, but noticeably leaner and less flavorful.
The good news is the burger construction is engineered for what my friend calls the executive bight. Carefully placed lettuce and tomato, as well as the slightly sweet bun, do wonders to round out the taste. Meanwhile, the garlic chips and aioli leave a distinct and savory garlic flavor that brings together all the flavors and makes your breath smell like the equivalent of three roasted heads of garlic.
While I wanted to love (and I mean LOVE) the sharp white cheddar cheese, its flavor on the burger is less impressive than its flavor on its own. Unlike past McDonald’s “cheddar” cheeses, the slice actually has a bit of funk, but within the burger it gets lost amidst the beef and the garlic aioli and chips. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s sort of a waste of an otherwise perfectly good slice of cheese.
There was a time when I might have said $5.19 is too much for a burger. Well, that time was in college and considering I’m about to be 30 and no longer use “adult” as a verb, I’m willing to pay $5.19 for a good fast food burger. And make no mistake about it, the Signature Crafted Garlic White Cheddar Burger is a good burger by fast food standards.
Just be prepared to eat a Tic-Tac afterwards.
(Nutrition Facts – 620 calories, 300 calories from fat, 33 grams of total fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, and 31 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $5.19
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Beefier fresh beef patty than traditional McDonald’s burgers. Excellent double whammy of garlic taste. High quality ingredients make $5.19 price tag a bargain.
Cons: Leaner-tasting patty lacks juiciness and richness. Quality of cheese is lost against garlic flavor.