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McDonald’s on a Silver Platter

April 30, 2015

All the weeks seems busy these days now that I have Yelp responsibilities on top of my rigorous blogging schedule. It sounds funny, but I’m serious.

Just to give you a peek under the hood, this week I’ve been finalizing a sponsorship with Tulip Fest, scheduling a date for a Yelp oyster tasting at fin – your fishmonger, giving away tickets to the Derby Day Chowda Challenge on Saturday, looking for sponsors of The Weekly Yelp, taking face to face meetings (which brought me to Slidin’ Dirty for avocado fries, Psychedelicatessen for bagels, and Civitello’s for eggplant and tomato pie) and filling the ROTD queue.

The blog is taking a bit of a back seat. I need to get in touch with the FarmOn people, because they are awesome. I was asked about doing the Food Stamp Challenge, which I totally want to try. There’s a book that I have in my hot little hands that I’m dying to give away (tomorrow, perhaps). And I dare not even look how long it’s been since an Ask the Profussor.

But the FLB continues to march on. The Tour de Soft Serve got a fair bit of attention locally. Thrillist cited the blog alongside All Over Albany in its crowning of DeFazio’s as one of the best pizzas in New York outside of NYC. And then quite unexpectedly, I had my picture in the paper eating a McDonald’s burger.

That last one might require a bit of explaining.

It’s true, I did have my first Big Mac in over a decade recently, and it wasn’t bad. I could see the good in it, and I can totally understand why one of my friends orders it without the beef. But for the most part when I’m compelled to go to McDonald’s I tend to opt for the foods served whole versus ground.

Heck, more often than not I’ll simply make a meal out of the largest sized container of french fries I can buy, and maybe finish that off with a hot caramel sundae.

But I was given a rare opportunity to be one of the first to try McDonald’s newest creation, and I just couldn’t resist. That said, I was approaching the tasting with more than a little bit of dread. Perhaps it was because my expectations were so low that I enjoyed the burger as much as I did.

Of course, the burgers that were sampled were clearly given special attention. The final verdict will have to wait until I can buy another one anonymously from another location.

Yes, there will be another.

I hate describing things by listing what they are not. But some fast food burgers are so spongy in texture and actively unpleasant in flavor that I’m compelled to mention that this is neither. This still isn’t a Five Guys burger, but the steakhouse version I tried was surprisingly tasty.

The cheese was the weakest link. It didn’t contribute much, despite having two slices.

Perhaps I would have chosen a different bun. It’s toasted, which is nice, but given the restrained use of toppings, I think the burger could have improved from a less stiff specimen and taken the sandwich in a different direction.

The burger was fine. Maybe it was great for a fast food patty. I really wish we had a standard quarter pounder to taste side by side for comparison, because that would help put it in context. There were notes of actual beefiness, and the occasional presence of juiciness.

Mushrooms were solid. They still had texture, but were soft and meaty. Caramelized onions actually had char and some needed contrasting bitterness. But it was the black peppercorn sauce that stole the show with its notes of thyme and balancing acidity.

I never had the opportunity to ask, “How is this different than from the Arch Deluxe?”

That was a line of more adult flavored burgers the chain launched sometime back in the early 1990s. Launched might be the wrong word for it. The Arch Deluxe kind of flopped. Hopefully the same fate won’t befall these sirloin burgers, but positioning a line extension between the base brand and its more upscale competition is a significant marketing challenge. I’m curious to see how it will work out.

McDonald’s also has a few new initiatives that were highlighted during the tasting. These, however, require further research on my part. For example, the new grilled chicken is going to be “raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine.” The emphasis added is mine, because that’s a phrase I’m not used to seeing in the conversation about meat and antibiotic use.

And it’s either totally brilliant, or terribly misguided. I just don’t know, because I know nothing about ionophores. Those are apparently the antibiotics McDonald’s chicken farmers will be using to keep their birds healthy.

I recognize that part of this is the size and scale of McDonald’s as a system. It’s huge. And change is hard. And change comes slowly. The upside is that because of its size and scale when the brand makes small changes, it has big impacts.

Like how McD’s is now backing away from milk treated with synthetic rbST growth hormones. That was news to me, but it’s great news. Perhaps even better news than Chipotle going GMO-Free (which it’s not given how much profit Chipotle will earn from the soda fountain).

There’s probably some joke to be made here about taking baby steps in clown shoes.

Don’t forget to try and snag some of those free Yelp tickets, and hopefully I’ll see you at the Chowda Challenge on Saturday. In the meantime, come back tomorrow for a FLB Giveaway of our very own.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2015 11:28 am

    man……..that description of the burger waters my mouth……

  2. April 30, 2015 3:37 pm

    A few years ago McDonalds did the same kind of thing. They introduced a 1/3 lb burger, with different toppings. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was called. I was on the road, starving, and decided to try it. I wasn’t impressed. The thing that sticks in my mind to this day is how over seasoned it was. The seasoning tasted processed and artificial.

    I’m game for trying these new burgers. But I need to try the new Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich first. That thing is right up my alley. And one can only eat so many fast food sandwiches you know.

    • April 30, 2015 3:49 pm

      I think it was the “Angus Burger”.

      From Wikipedia, “Since 2006, McDonald’s has test-marketed its own version of the [Angus Burger] in several markets, including Chicago, Illinois and upstate New York. The test sandwich was offered in three varieties…”

      They’ve since dropped it and trust me, it wasn’t very good.

      • April 30, 2015 5:41 pm

        I remember the “Angus 1/3 Pounder.” I remember it because of the advertising. I think the ‘1/3’ was a different color or smaller or something. So it looked like the signs just said “Angus Pounder.” Take away that ‘g’ and you got some comedy going. I remember my wife yelling at me for noticing this…

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