Summer at McDonald’s
Somehow, I got on McDonald’s good side. The fast food chain does not get a free pass in these pages. But I’m admittedly not ideologically opposed to its existence either. There are things the chain does well, like cracking eggs behind the line to make each Egg McMuffin. And there are things that I’d like to see improved, like the heavy reliance on high fructose corn syrup in its ketchup and sauces.
Of course, when a large enterprise like McDonald’s makes small improvements, the changes can have huge effects. Like when it switched to MSC certified fish back in 2013.
I’ll take my kids to McDonald’s as an occasional treat a few times per year. It usually works out to about once every couple of months. Maybe in the summer we’ll go more. But recently, I’ve been frustrated about finding options that fit my new diet and are fun to eat. Thankfully, they serve breakfast all day, so my go to order has been a bowl of oatmeal—no cream and no dried fruit—and an Egg McMuffin, hold the meat. That combination, perhaps with a cup of coffee, feels like real food.
Well, yesterday, I was invited to come into the Clifton Park outpost and taste the newest offering. And I’m quite pleased because now, provided the supply keeps up with the demand, I’ve got a fighting chance of having something besides breakfast.
Meet the McDonald’s lobster roll.
I know that for some people that seems like an oxymoron. For one reason or another, those two terms just don’t seem to go together. But I’ve seen it. I’ve eaten it. And it doesn’t suck.
It’s actually better than that. It’s pretty darn good, all things considered.
That’s a sandwich full of mashed up claw meat with a little bit of mayonnaise. And it’s topped with a solid piece of claw. That one big solid chunk of meat not only adds visual appeal, but helps to contextualize how much lobster is actually in the sandwich. All told it’s just shy of a quarter pound of meat.
What I appreciate is that while it may be bound together with mayonnaise, there aren’t any bits thrown in like diced peppers, or pieces of celery. To me, that would make it a lobster salad roll, which is decidedly different.
The whole thing is advertised for $9 (some locations—like those on the interstate—might price it higher) which is expensive for something from McDonald’s but inexpensive in the world of lobster rolls.
Troy Lobster sells its lobster roll for about $18. And there’s no question Troy Lobster makes the better sandwich. I’d argue that Troy Lobster’s Connecticut-style lobster roll is at least twice as good, if not more, than the McDonald’s entry in the category. And if you asked me if I would rather have a half sandwich from Troy Lobster or a whole one from McDonald’s, the answer would be obvious.
However, the next time I’m stuck at McDonald’s with the kids? I’m totally getting the lobster roll.
If they have it. The lobster roll will be rolling out around the region this week. Yesterday, it went on the menu in Ballston Spa and sold out that day. It takes 36 hours to thaw out a new batch of lobster claw meat. Then it has to be drained, before it’s mixed with mayonnaise, and portioned out for sandwiches. So if the management doesn’t accurately predict demand, you may find no lobster awaiting you.
Although, I suppose, you could hop on over to any other McDonald’s in the Capital Region and beyond. Lobster is available as far south as Hudson and as far north as Plattsburgh.
At the end of our tasting, the McDonald’s crew gave me a $15 gift card so I could go back and try the lobster roll again, incognito. One thing I’ve learned about these media tastings is that the staff takes extra care to make sure everything is perfect about the sandwich. So the real test will happen in the weeks to come.
I’m actually tempted to try and combine my favorite things at McDonald’s into a fast food version of Troy Lobster’s Kraken. That would be an Egg McMuffin, hold the cheese and substitute bacon for ham. Add lobster. I don’t know what I would do about the guacamole and chipotle cream. But I think the lobster, egg & bacon McMuffin would still be a winner.
Should I ever take the plunge, I’ll be sure to let you know.