This might only slightly fall into the fast food category, but I passed through ATL airport the day after their new International Concourse F opened to the public. Thinking they have to have a good selection of restaurants to satisfy the hunger of jumbo jet passengers, I was a bit surprised to find only a handful of quick serve choices.
In fact, the upper level is devoted to a good-sized food court with only three restaurants: Pei Wei, The Varsity and el Taco. OK, who agrees that eating chiliburgers or burritos and then sitting for ten hours in an enclosed space with at least dozens of others who have also eaten chiliburgers and burritos might not be the best way to fly? Pei Wei, quick serve Chinese, might only be marginally better.
Don't get me wrong. There need to be fast food offerings at the airport. And it is nice to see a local chain like The Varsity represented for passengers who might just be passing through Atlanta. But there are countless better choices across the rest of the airport. So if you have time to kill, go down two levels and ride the Plane Train over to Terminal E or D for some sit down choices. Or keep going to B, where there is a bigger food court with even more choices.
To satisfy my weekend craving for a good, tasty burger, I have lots of choices. But yesterday I decided to check out the "new" Hot 'N Juicy cheeseburger line at Wendy's. According to the promotional material, the sandwiches come with "New premium toppings" including crinkle-cut pickles, sweet red onions and "thick hand-sliced tomato" accompanied by "juicier, thicker beef" on a "buttered, toasted" bun. Looking at the pic above, doesn't that look tasty? Here's what I got:
If it seems like I am bagging on chains for their new entries a lot lately, I'd only say that the food needs to live up to the hype. And it is only going to be as good as the local store makes it - so if you are going to show a beautiful gigantic burger and then deliver a compressed hockey puck, well the pictures speak for themselves.
The Hot 'N Juicy line replaces the core burger menu. That is, the standard Single, Double and Triple all now bear the H'NJ moniker. The sandwich is assembled with cheese on the bottom, then meat, then cheese, then lettuce, onion, pickles, tomato (look at that "thick, hand-sliced" number on mine) and mayo. Yes, the bun is toasted. Yes, everything is there. But c'mon, this is not a premium burger and I tasted little difference between this and the last 1/4lb Single I had before the change.
Here's something else that is odd. Before heading to my local Wendy's, I looked up the new burger on their website. Here's the nutrition page:
It might be hard to see, but note that "Dave's Hot 'N Juicy 1/4 lb. Single" is shown to include Applewood Smoked Bacon and Honey Mustard Sauce. Um, what? Now, I was positive this was a mistake, but was curious enough to just order the sandwich straight as on the board (a "Number one" combo) and, of course, these two ingredients are MIA. Wendy's, your burgers should be sloppy, not your information.
Speaking of sloppy, we should address the base implication of a "Hot 'N Juicy" product. That is, the burger should be both hot and juicy. Putting aside the fact that "juicy" meat just sounds gross when you think of it by itself, how was my burger? Again, not much difference between this and the previous. I have always liked Wendy's burgers for their taste - the right balance of meatiness, saltiness and juiciness that is balanced well against the condiments. But I was not blown away on first bite thinking "Hey this IS juicier."
So, on the hit-or-miss scale, I'd put this one right on the line. If you like Wendy's burgers, you will be happy with this. If you are looking for something different from what you have had in the past, you might need to look elsewhere. Like maybe the "Baconator."
Thinking about what the new Daily Double at McDonald's would taste like, I figured it would be similar to the Double Cheeseburger Deluxe at Wendy's. That is, a standard McD double cheeseburger plus lettuce, mayo and tomato. I quickly realized when they say "lettuce, tomato and mayo" in the posters, that is ALL you get.
Truth in advertising. I can't fault McDonald's for it. But what a plain, middle class, blah burger. The bottom-up construction, meat-cheese-meat-tomato-lettuce-mayo, left much to be desired. For starters, would it have killed them to include a pickle? I added ketchup, and that helped a lot. Perhaps McDonald's was worried about straying too far into Big N' Tasty territory, but since that sandwich is MIA, what harm would there be to include them? Nice that they used the Big Mac shredded lettuce for something new, but the sandwich itself was just nothing to write about (and look, I am doing it anyway.)
My wife, who prefers to tax the patience of the person at the register with the impossible-to-order "Big Mac without the center bread" had the great idea of subbing special sauce for mayo. Man, was her version better! She reported that the tomato neutralized some of the kick in the special sauce, though, which I found interesting.
Bottom line - this sandwich is not worth the hefty $1.99 price tag. For half that, I could stick with the McDouble and have my ketchup and pickles. A buck extra for shredded lettuce and a tomato is not worth it.
Hello, oh oh oh, Vienna (McDonald's) calling. Yep, it's time for another installment of McDonald's around the world. This time, the historic city of Vienna, Austria. Starting with the McMenu above, we have the
Not that exciting. The combo options are a salad or fries and a drink.
I had the #1, naturally, and here is what it looked like:
Beautiful, huh? Tasted familiar, although the sauce was a bit tangier and the meat was tough. Can't say whether the meat is always tough - sometimes I find this at my local McD as well. The fries tasted like they should, and all the Cokes in Austria have sugar, not high fructose corn syrup, so they taste slightly different. I'd kill for a Pepsi here, but they are nowhere to be found.
Working from left-to-right on the actual menu board, we encounter some additional combo options:
Next up, the Der M menu. This consists of three sandwiches, the Der M (regular cheeseburger on funky bread with Swiss cheese), another Der M with bacon, and a Chicken Sensation (the sensation probably being one of disappointment, same as all the other McDonald's chicken sandwiches). Sorry, that wasn't entirely fair, I didn't try it. Moving on.
They have the Chicken Select, plus some criss-cut fries. Then they have the Gebackener Camembert. Gebackener translates as "baked" so I am guessing these are baked versions of fried cheese.
Finally, the value menu, called the Ein Mal Eins, or One Times One, or the 1 Euro menu. They also had the Eins Plus menu for a few extra items. Hard to see in the pic, but the Plus items are a Snack Wrap, Veggie Burger, Chickenburger, Cheeseburger TS, and McDouble. Finally, a familiar mix of frozen desserts.
Always fun trying McD in other countries, but this one was not that strange.
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