Archives for the month of: August, 2016

Finishing up Classic Connoisseur before I dive into some new eats, we’re going to talk about Checkers’ Bacon Roadhouse Burger.

The Bacon Roadhouse Burger fits the current trend of jamming a lot of ingredients into a burger to make it stand out. While I tried this shortly after it had been released, it is still a regular part of the Checkers menu today. Checkers describes it as “double seasoned beef and cheese, crispy onion tanglers, BBQ sauce, and crispy bacon. Going in, I knew this thing was going to be fully loaded.


Upon first glance, the burger actually looked like it’d be manageable. For all of its ingredients, it was packed well together. However, looking more closely, I realize that I’m going to be handling Texas Toast, which was not in the description! I understand the appeal of adding grilled buttery bread, but it makes the sandwich almost impossible to handle. It’s going to be slippery, hands are going to be extremely greasy, and I’m going to need a mountain of napkins to get through this thing.

I also noticed mayo. There is no need for mayonnaise on this monstrosity. As mentioned before, I’m not rational when it comes to mayo, I actively dislike it. The Bacon Roadhouse already has BBQ sauce, and mayo doesn’t even fit the flavor profile of the burger. It’s just there to add calories.

Digging in to the burger, the first bite tastes like the Rodeo Cheeseburger from Burger King, which makes sense since they share many of the same ingredients. Except Burger King doesn’t add mayo. The first ingredient to stand out was the onion tanglers. They were not fresh and tasted like they’d been under a heat lamp for a while. No real crunch, and they tasted overwhelmingly of onion, without any breading or seasoning.


Luckily, the BBQ sauce was more of a dominant flavor. It was tangy and luckily not too sweet. It would have been fine to use this on its own to dress the burger, and not use any mayo. The burger itself was also pretty good! It actually tasted like beef and wasn’t just a filler to deliver the toppings. Between the good burger and not gross cheese, I’d be fine eating a regular cheeseburger at Checkers. I also really liked their bacon. It was crispy and salty and smoky and really added to the burger.


At this point, I should note that the burger itself was sloppily put together, so I was having a hard time getting a bite with all the ingredients. I should also mention that the burger was incredibly greasy, almost to the point of being a turn off. Eating outside in humid weather was not helping. The burger was also falling out of the Texas Toast, which I felt detracted from the sandwich. I didn’t think it added enough flavor to make up for its slipperiness and likely addition of several hundred calories. A regular bun would have been fine and made the burger easier to handle. When I finally got a bite with everything, onion tanglers aside, it was quite good! The problem was I got too few bites like that.


Overall, the Bacon Roadhouse Burger has some serious potential and is something I’d consider ordering again. Topping a cheeseburger with bacon, BBQ sauce, and onion rings/tanglers is hard to screw up, and Checkers did a pretty good job here. I’d prefer this with a regular bun and no mayo, and would probably specialize my order in the future to make the eating experience better. Also, better execution from the kitchen in properly putting it together and using fresh onion rings would bump this up a few notches.


On our next stop of Classic Connoisseur, we’re visiting a Checkers in Florida. This trip provided two foods for me to sample. This post will tackle their Grilled Cheese Strips.

I should note that while I’ve known of Checkers pretty much my whole life, this was my first experience actually eating at one. Our location did not offer indoor seating, so the meal was eaten outside in Florida. Oppressively muggy weather and greasy food is not the best combination, but work had to be done. My first impression upon getting the bag of food was that I’d been handed a bag of grease. The bag was almost soaked through, and we did not receive enough napkins for the amount of food ordered. Also, a medium soda is 32 oz (or I was given the wrong soda size). I appreciate value, but that’s too much soda. Checkers experience aside, let’s get to the food.

The Grilled Cheese Strips are an ode to their more popular cousin, the mozzarella stick. Checkers probably figured that they could swap in some different cheese and create a familiar item, but one which is more likely to catch eyes than a traditional mozzarella stick. It did the trick for me. I’m not a huge fan of mozzarella sticks, which are really just a cheese delivery vehicle, but I like fried things and Checkers has good seasoning on their fried things, so I figured it was worth a try. I originally ate these in December 2014, and they do not appear to be on the menu any more. They had been available in four ($1.99) or six ($2.99) strip portions, which makes no sense. Most places, especially fast food restaurants, give you a discount when you order more of something. Regardless, since you can’t purchase them now, that information is irrelevant.


The Grilled Cheese Strips were served piping hot. When looking at them, they resembled flattened mozzarella sticks, almost like someone had sucked out the cheese and just fried the breading. They had a nice golden brown color and looked crispy and well-seasoned. When I finally felt they were safe to bite, I was wrong. The cheese was basically liquefied instead the strip and I burned my tongue. Of course, that also meant my first bite was basically tasteless as I was concerned more with my scorched tongue than the cheese concoction.


After a brief break, I tried them again, and it really did taste like a grilled cheese. The gooey orange cheese tasted like the cheap stuff you’d put on a grilled cheese you made yourself, and I mean that as a compliment. Because the strip is so thin, it maintains its crunch so it doesn’t become a gooey formless mess, like a crappy mozzarella stick. The seasoning was a bit of a let down because I really only tasted salt. If they had aggressively seasoned this with some pepper. I think that would have worked really well.

The first strip was fine to eat on its own as a curiosity, but after that the strips really could have used some sort of sauce, especially since they weren’t particularly cheap. The taste was a little monotonous and one note, and some marinara or hot sauce or dip would have elevated the side dish.

As a side item, it would be perfect to split the 4 piece with someone else. It’s a good little snack, and I think eating two without sauce is a fine portion, but I could never see myself wanting to eat six Grilled Cheese Strips at once.

Continuing our swing through my past eats, next up is McDonald’s Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken, which no longer appears to be available. The McChicken was originally brought back to the McDonald’s menu as a cheaper alternative to the Deluxe Chicken sandwiches with the introduction of the Dollar Menu. There was a distinct difference between the sandwiches. While the deluxe sandwiches had a piece of chicken breast that you could imagine eating in a restaurant, the McChicken never conjured such an image. It reminded me more of a dining hall chicken sandwich. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it was a distinctly different experience when you chose the lower price point, as opposed to ordering a double cheeseburger vs. a Quarter pounder (another dollar menu v regular sandwich distinction).

As McDonald’s raised prices and attempted to move away from the Dollar Menu, they needed new ways to induce people to spend more than a buck on a cheap chicken sandwich. Thus was born the Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken. Though it had been available for some time, I ate it as I was driving across the country, somewhere on I-40 in Southern California. I ordered it as a supplement to my regular meal. The price at the time was $2, so those extra accoutrements were not cheap.



Opening up the paper wrapper, it looked like a regular McChicken. It’s an unassuming sandwich. Seedless bun, chicken patty thin, not very greasy. Taking a sample of the chicken patty before digging into the sandwich as a whole, it already had some spice in the breading! I was taken aback because I figured this would just be a regular McChicken with some new toppings slapped on top, but McDonald’s actually made some effort here, and it showed. In addition, the patty itself was juicy and crunchy. Honestly, if you took away the bread and the toppings, I’d have eaten the chicken patty on its own.


As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s bacon, because they make it but too crisp for my liking. However, it worked on this sandwich. I didn’t get the texture as much, so the smokiness just paired well with the overall spiciness of the sandwich.


When I first saw that the sandwich included buffalo and ranch flavors, I assumed there was a buffalo ranch sauce. Nope. Instead we had two sauces added. I generally like buffalo sauce and am not a fan of ranch. However, on its own, the buffalo sauce was too spicy for the overall sandwich and it took over the taste. When I had a bite with both sauces, they combined really well. Still, it’s a little odd that McDonald’s didn’t spring for a single sauce.


The only ingredient which detracted from the sandwich was the lettuce. To use the McChicken vs. the deluxe sandwiches as a point of comparison again, the Deluxe sandwiches usually have a large piece or two of lettuce, whereas the McChickens have cheaper shredded lettuce. Whether by design or worker indifference, this sandwich had too much shredded lettuce. I kept picking it off the sandwich because it was taking up too much of each bite. This would have been better served with one piece of iceberg lettuce to cool off the sandwich a bit. Nothing more.

Judged in isolation. the Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken was a worthy addition to the menu. They didn’t shy away from heat. The Bacon was good. The ranch paired well with the buffalo sauce, and I wish McDonald’s didn’t discontinue the spicy chicken patty

I think if McDonald’s wanted, it could pair the toppings with one of the premium chicken breast fillets and charge more for the sandwich. It’d be a worthy competitor to Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

The drawback was its awkward price point. It’s a fine snack, but it’s too small on its own to serve as the focal point of a meal, but also a bit too much sandwich to supplement a regular meal. As someone who always gets a value meal at McDonald’s, I’d need to juggle my usual ordering pattern if I wanted to order this particular sandwich, and I’m too set in my ways to do that. Maybe for the person who regularly picks and chooses items off the value meal, that’s a viable option, but I’d probably pass on this in the future. You know, if they still sold it.


After a looooooooooooong hiatus, I’ve decided to restart posting. While I catch myself up to speed with some new eats in fast food, I’m going to post some things that I’ve eaten over the past two years and intended to add to the blog, but never actually wrote them up. While most of these items are likely discontinued at this point, they will never be forgotten.

We lead off with the McDonald’s German Sausage Double Beef Burger. In a first for the blog, this was an international exclusive item. I ate it in Shanghai in November 2015 and it was advertised as a limited time item. Some internet sleuthing (i.e. Googling) shows that the burger has also been available in Germany and appeared in China in 2013.


While the combination of a pork product to a burger is not a particularly new phenomenon, usually we’re talking about bacon, or maybe even pulled pork. This was my first experience seeing sausage added to a regular burger. I’m guessing the general German theme and time of the year meant this was a leftover from Oktoberfest, but the window advertisement did not reflect those assumptions (or I just couldn’t translate them properly).


Anyway, onto the actual burger experience! The burger itself was 19 RMB (around $3 USD) and a meal was 26 RMB. Note that meals in China do come with a soda and fries, but the soda is a small and the fries don’t seem to be same size as a U.S. medium. The price for the meal and sandwich fell in line with the regular menu items.

As with all McDonald’s sandwiches in China, the burger comes wrapped in paper. No box. Upon first glance, the burger looked a little flimsy. Even without looking at the window poster, when I think of a double burger with sausage and a pretzel bun, I’m expecting some heft. Instead, it looked and felt small. The bun was tiny and compressed and it just looked like a regular bun. Peeling off the top bun to get a look inside, sitting on the top the burger were two sausages placed on the burger patty. The mustard or mustard sauce looked a little sparse/not evenly distributed, and of course the burger patty itself looked dry. This did not look good.


Tasting the components all together, it wasn’t that bad! There was a little spice to the experience, probably from a combination of the sausage and mustard. The burger acted more as a filler, providing bulk but not much in terms of taste, and the bun was just there. If the sandwich had been properly sauced and the burger itself seasoned, this would have been pretty good. Unfortunately, that minimum standard wasn’t met and it didn’t live up to the sum of its parts.


Running through the ingredients individually, if the bun hadn’t been made to look like a pretzel bun, then I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t just regular bread. It had no particular taste. That could have been saved it there had been more of the mustard/mustard sauce. It looked and tasted like a golden brown mustard, my favorite kind. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough, and the little that was there was not evenly distributed. While a mustard bomb would have overwhelmed the sandwich, considering the dryness of everything, more was needed.


Moving onto the German sausages, I was surprised there were two. I expected one sausage split in half. The sausages had a decent char on them. They were bigger than a breakfast link, but not quite large. They fit comfortably over the burger patties and didn’t make the sandwich unwieldy. I don’t know what exactly a German sausage is supposed to taste like, but these had a nice flavor. Once again, there was some spice, and they had a little smokiness. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste the char. Lastly, as I mentioned, the two burger patties were dry and didn’t have any flavor. The dryness did take over the sandwich when I didn’t get any mustard in my bite because the two patties were so large. Even some salt and pepper, which is standard on McDonald’s burgers in the U.S. would have helped a lot.


Overall, the German Sausage Double Beef Burger was a disappointment, though with some tweaks, it could have been pretty good. I was dubious of the sausage, which wound up being the best part. The mustard was good, it just needed more. Add some burger seasoning and maybe a slice of cheese, and this would have been a winner. If the bun hadn’t been made to look like a pretzel bun, it would have been fine, as opposed to underwhelming. Aside from the taste, one surprising thing was that the burger didn’t actually fill me up. There’s a chance this is because I was eating a late dinner (after 8:30), but one would imagine two burgers plus two sausages on bread should be filling. So this falls into the mediocre category, but it has unrealized potential.