Archives for posts with tag: Bacon

After the Sriracha craze a few years ago, where it seemed like half the internet was composed of love letters to the sauce, things have calmed down. It has settled in as a good hot sauce, different than a Tabasco or Frank’s in taste and texture, but good in the right amounts on the right foods rather than slathered onto everything. Wendy’s, in their laudable quest to ensure I have new content as long as I continue to update this blog, decided to utilize Sriracha on their Spicy Chicken Sandwich (IMO, the GOAT of fast food chicken sandwiches). I originally wasn’t going to try this, but after a request from a loyal reader, I decided to eat the Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich.

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The Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich is priced at $5.49 (!) for the sandwich and $8.19 for a meal with a medium soda and fries. According to Wendy’s, the Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich is their “iconic Spicy Chicken, topped with one of kind Sriracha Jack Cheese, thick-cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, creamy Sriracha aioli, spring mix, and red onion … on a toasted Sriracha-infused bakery-style bun.” The sandwich was presented in a box, but it was so large that it was awkward to pick it up, which I remember happening before at Wendy’s. If these boxes are here to stay, they need to make them larger so one’s fingers can get around the sandwich.

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Upon opening the box, the sandwich smelled great; it was that spicy fried chicken aroma which I’ll never tire of. The bun looked bland. I originally thought it was a Brioche bun, but Fortune has corrected me. I would have preferred a regular seeded bun, but Wendy’s doesn’t actually serve those, so I’m tilting at windmills here.

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I lifted up the bun and saw the inevitable raw red onion. I did my best to take it all off, but I know I missed at least part of that mess. I also saw that the cheese hadn’t really melted yet. The sandwich, in particular the chicken, didn’t taste cold, so I don’t know why the cheese didn’t melt, but maybe Wendy’s needs to raise the temperature on their food holders.

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The bun was toasted and tasted like wheat…. with spice. It was a little weird and I wasn’t 100% certain that it was spicy until I confirmed it on the Wendy’s website. It was a nice touch to add Sriracha, but it didn’t stand out unless I was eating the bun without anything else. The chicken was a regular spicy chicken patty. No complaints, it was great. That Sriracha aioli was basically Sriracha sauce cut with some mayo. Since they couldn’t just spread Sriracha on the damn sandwich without scorching everyone’s taste buds, this was the way to go. It became easily spreadable while retaining its heat.

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I did manage to get one bite with every ingredient (including the onion). Of course, the onion overpowered everything. In the non-onion bites, the bacon was a standout in the sandwich. Wendy’s puts bacon on everything, and it worked really well here. It was smoky and crispy and helped balance every other ingredient which contained Sriracha. They were also good about putting enough bacon on the sandwich so that almost every bite had some. The Sriracha Jack Cheese, as mentioned before, wasn’t full melted. The cheese didn’t have a strong taste and if it hadn’t; been on the sandwich, I doubt I would have missed it.

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Through the first half of the sandwich, the Sriracha Spicy Chicken Sandwich tasted like a Spicy Chicken Sandwich turned to 11. Even though Sriracha was the star, the heat built steadily. My mouth wasn’t on fire from the first bite. I could see anyone who is sensitive to spice not liking this sandwich, because it is more intense than the Spicy Chicken sandwich. To help make this more palatable to more people, I think adding a tomato slice would have helped. I’m actually surprised the sandwich didn’t have a tomato, considering we got raw onion

 

While on the subject of vegetables, I do need to compliment the spring mix. Wendy’s has really stepped up their game in this area recently, and I do appreciate their effort. By giving better greens on the sandwich, it feels less like a fast food burger. I applaud the move away from pale, limp iceberg lettuce. When talking about a bacon spicy fried chicken sandwich, this is a minor point, but it’s the little things that add up to create a better whole.

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One of my usual Wendy’s complaints, and a distinct worry when I started eating this particular sandwich, was that it was going to be terribly messy. The sandwiches themselves don’t stay together, sauce leaks everywhere, and I need about twenty napkins to get through the experience, not including extra napkins if I plan on typing notes for this blog. I can say that the Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich did stay together with minimal leakage. The bread was strong enough to keep everything in one place and soak up the sauce to ensure it didn’t get on my hands.

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As mentioned above, the Sriracha Spicy Chicken Sandwich was hot, but not overwhelmingly so. It was a well put together sandwich where everything made sense (except the onion) and worked together to make a really good eating experience. Though the use of the Sriracha makes this a gimmick item that will never become a permanent staple of the menu, I do hope it’s brought back for return engagements in the future so anyone who likes the Spicy Chicken Sandwich but wants something a bit spicier can give this a try. If you’re in a Wendy’s and see this on the menu, it is definitely worth your time.

In honor of Chinese New Year, we’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled posts to review another fast food item from China! I’ve spent far too much time in my life in Shanghai Pudong Airport, but one advantage to flying from that location is that it contains one of the few Burger Kings I’ve seen in China. Since I’m usually flying back to the United States from Pudong, it’s a tradition of mine to fill up at the local BK before hopping on a 10-15 hour flight, and this past week was no different.

Looking over the menu, there were two items which are not currently available at U.S. locations: a Spicy Whopper and an Italian Stacker. Since I guessed the Spicy Whopper was just a burger with some hot sauce, I though the Italian Stacker would make for a better post, so that was my choice.

The Italian Stacker is offered with up to four patties on the burger. I opted for the single version, which only had one burger patty. The sandwich was 23 RMB alone or 40 RMB for a meal, which came with a medium fries and medium soda. The meal price increased 8 RMB for each additional beef patty, which seemed reasonable enough.

Upon ordering the sandwich, I had literally no idea what to expect. I couldn’t access wifi in the airport, so I couldn’t do any research on the sandwich beforehand. In fact, I still don’t actually have an official description of the sandwich. A cursory Google search returned no results, and not even Wikipedia includes a mention of the Italian Stacker in its article on the BK Stacker (someone should edit that- is this blog credible enough to serve as a source?).

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Anyway, the picture on the menu looked like there was some sauce and bacon and cheese. I noticed that this location offered chili fries (which were called spicy meat sauce fries) and I hoped that this chili was not going to serve as Italian tomato sauce. I … was wrong.

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Upon opening the wrapper, the burger looked a little small, but I did order the single, which is the equivalent of a regular cheeseburger. It had the regular sesame bun and the patty looked like a regular American burger. It smelled like bacon, which gave me some hope for a good experience. I lifted the top bun, and the insides looked kinda gross. The sauce definitely looked like the chili, and the bacon was not typical American style crispy bacon: it was wide cut and soggy.

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I picked up the burger and it was a tad messy and soggy from the sauce. My first bite had an overwhelming bacon taste. I wish it had been crispy though. On the second bite, I realized the sauce was definitely chili, but it had a slightly off taste. It was a thin tomato sauce with chunks of ground beef. It could have used some more seasoning, especially salt, and maybe some spice. I thought I taste a hint of oregano, but that may have been wish casting. Instead, the main seasoning seemed to be diced onions. Perhaps it’s my personal taste in not liking onions, but the sauce seemed to get more oniony as I continued eating.

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Other than the bacon, cheese and chili, nothing else was on the burger. Luckily the bacon carried most of the taste when it was in a bite, because I was not a big fan of that chili. The burger itself had that same flame-grilled (TM!) taste you’re used to, but it was smaller than the bun. There was a good amount of bacon on the burger, and it did start to overwhelm the patty at times. I think if I’d gotten at least a double, the beef would have stood up better

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The best bites of the burger were where the sauce ended up melting the cheese, so they combined into a gooey, cheesy sauce. It helped to hide the strong onion flavor, and it paired really well with the burger and bacon. Towards the end, I tried to create as many of those bites as possible, but there was only a single slice of cheese to work with.

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As a novelty item, this was fine. I probably shouldn’t; have expected a semi-authentic tomato sauce, and I’m guessing I, and other foreigners, would be more receptive to the taste if it was marketed as a chili cheese burger, and not something with Italian flavor. I’d also prefer crispy bacon, but that’s probably asking too much. I would be interested in an actual Italian burger (free idea Burger King!), having tomato sauce paired with provolone. But until that’s a reality, I’ll probably stick to a safer choice next time I’m in China.

After checking in on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Square, it’s time to continue Dunkin’ Donuts week with their Belgian Waffle Breakfast Sandwich. As someone who went through most of my life ignoring the fact that breakfast existed and only eating it when absolutely necessary, the revelation that a well-made and constructed breakfast sandwich is truly an amazing thing came to me later in life. While I still can find quibble with portions (there’s never enough bacon to justify ordering bacon as the meat instead of sausage and it’s amazing how many calories are packed into a reasonably sized sandwich), I look forward to any chance when I can eat a good breakfast sandwich (or burrito).

When I saw that Dunkin’ Donuts had rolled out a waffle sandwich, it was only a matter of time before I gave it a shot. While the sticker on the door also showed a non-breakfast option with chicken*, I knew I’d be going breakfast on this one.

*I have actually eaten a chicken patty from Dunkin’ Donuts. I would not advise others to do so. It’s not terrible, but because they don’t have a fryer in-house, it tastes like a frozen chicken patty that you decided to microwave instead of bake because who the hell has 45 minutes to bake a frozen chicken patty just so it can be crispy?

The Dunkin’ Belgian Waffle Breakfast Sandwich contains “Cherrywood Smoked Bacon, American Cheese and Egg, between two delicious Belgian waffles.” The sandwich is priced at $3.99 on its own. It is available as a meal with your choice of beverage, but because there’s so much variation there, I didn’t write the price down. I got mine with a large iced coffee, pushing the cost over $7.

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When unwrapping the sandwich, I had two immediate impressions: 1) the sandwich was kinda small and 2) it smelled absolutely fantastic. Like better than McDonald’s hotcakes fantastic, and I think McDonald’s hotcakes (or do they call them pancakes now?) are probably the best smelling fast food. If they tasted half as good as they smelled, I’d eat them at least once a week. Anyway, back on topic, the sandwich smelled great. A sweet aroma, without being too sweet, with a hint of bacon. They could sell this as a cologne. People would buy it and be hungry all the time.

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Examining the sandwich… the waffle was floppy, which was disappointing. This comes back to my discussion of Dunkin’ chicken above: because they only have limited appliances with which to cook food, it’s tough to get things crispy. While I wouldn’t have wanted a super crispy waffle, it would have been nice if it had some resistance and maybe changed the texture of the sandwich, instead of relying solely on the bacon to do so.

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Floppiness aside, my first bite was pretty good.  The waffle was very good, it had a sweet taste that was definitely satisfying. The egg certainly tasted real and I had no complaints. I did get bacon in that bite as well, but there wasn’t a lot of bacon on the sandwich. The bacon was thin, so you could get some porky smokiness, but the dominant flavor of the sandwich was the waffle, egg, and cheese. It had a good taste, but the sandwich really would have been better served with more bacon. Considering the size of the sandwich, they could probably have a sufficient amount by using two full slices and cutting/folding them to cover the whole interior. There’s no good reason why they couldn’t add more and keep it around the same price.

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As I continued eating, the cheese melted and adding some moisture to the sandwich, but I think it would have been better served with an actual sauce. I could see a little drizzle of syrup and/or some hot sauce really livening up the experience. The flavors would go well, and the sandwich wouldn’t be as dry.

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I would eat the Belgian Waffle Breakfast Sandwich if I was at Dunkin’ and smelled those damn waffles. Surprisingly, considering its size, I was satisfied after I finished. I ate around 11am and wound up skipping lunch that day, which I didn’t expect. I liked the egg, the waffle had a great taste and smell, and the bacon and cheese added just enough salt and texture to make this a win. I’d probably add my own syrup or hot sauce, but that’s an easy fix, and I’d rather add my own syrup than see the sandwich drenched in it. The only qualification is the price. I have a hard time seeing value in a sandwich and iced coffee costing over $7, but if that doesn’t bother you and/or you’re feeling particularly flush in the wallet, then I’d give this a shot.

 

Oh boy, this is exciting. Usually, fast food restaurants use Columbus, Ohio and other middle America locations as test markets for new concepts. I don’t quite understand why, but I’m sure the marketing department says the demographics are favorable, or something like that. Sometimes that changes to California or New York if it’s more upmarket. But Boston never gets new products before they’re available to the general public, which is unfortunate because it would really help this blog (and pique my own personal interest) if we got to try products before they were available to the general public. Well, today the fast food gods have smiled upon your humble author and Wendy’s is using Massachusetts and Tennessee as the test market for their Truffle Bacon Cheeseburger.

I originally went to Wendy’s to try the new Grilled Chicken Sandwich, but as soon as I saw the large placard advertising the Truffle Bacon Cheeseburger, as well as Bacon Truffle Fries, I knew my true dinner destiny. I don’t have an official description of the burger since it is not listed on the Wendy’s site, but this article mentions the limited release as well the as the ingredients which are “a beef patty topped with mixed greens, Applewood smoked bacon, truffle aioli, Parmesan cheese sauce, tomato, and cheese” on “a buttery croissant bun.” A meal cost $7.09 and the burger alone was $4.99, so this isn’t cheap. The Bacon Truffle Fries were $2.29 as a side and were offered as an upgrade to a meal for an extra $0.75, which I thought was a great idea, and almost led to me ordering just the fries and getting that Grilled Chicken Sandwich, but of course I didn’t.

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The food came out pretty quickly and my first impression was that Wendy’s now puts burgers in boxes! Usually they come in that weird foil that always gets greasy (and I like Wendy’s burgers but they’re insanely greasy and come with mayo so I rarely eat them), but the box is a nice touch to keep it neat. The only problem with the box is that this sandwich is so big that I had a hard time picking it up because there wasn’t enough space for my fingers. I don’t have tiny hands, folks!

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After I figured out how to pick up the sandwich, I could examine it. The croissant looked flaky and smelled like butter, but wasn’t greasy or slippery, a huge bonus for someone who needs to use his phone to type notes as he eats. Thanks to Wendy’s for looking out for us fast food bloggers. Anyway, the croissant also had enough heft to it to stand up to the burger and not fall apart as I ate, which was a distinct fear of mine before I ordered.

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My first bite was weird. I don’t usually eat croissants and I definitely have never had a croissant burger, so the croissant taste/texture combined with beef was unfamiliar. My second bite was better as I got used to the beef and croissant combo, and I seemed to get all the ingredients. It tasted like a fancy bacon cheeseburger, and everything seemed to come together well.

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On its own, the Parmesan cheese sauce tasted like a Caesar dressing, which I can’t believe I’ve never had on a burger before. I’m guessing the truffle aioli was also represented in that taste, since I couldn’t see two distinct sauces, so I assume they were the same color. I don’t know what specific leaves actually composed the mixed greens, but I know they seemed like things I would normally put into a sandwich. They looked and tasted fresh and made the burger feel fancier. Usually fast food places don’t pay much attention to the lettuce, putting a crappy piece of Iceberg which doesn’t belong and tastes terrible, if it has a taste, on a sandwich. But the inclusion of these greens was a great choice especially if, as the linked article above mentions, Wendy’s is going for an upscale bistro burgerish vibe. The tomato also didn’t fall apart and added heft to the sandwich. I’ve now written more words on vegetables here than on every post on this site combined.

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Going back to the croissant, as mentioned before, it did not fall apart as I ate. I’m not usually a big fan of croissants, but it worked for me here. It was light enough that I didn’t feel gross eating which is essentially butter bread with a bacon cheeseburger. I’m not sure how people who like croissants would feel, but it worked for me.

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The beef patty itself is a generic Wendy’s burger. The beef is fine and well seasoned. The Applewood smoked bacon is also a standard Wendy’s feature at this point. The put a good amount of bacon on the burger, so almost every bite had some bacon. It had a good smoky taste and was cooked perfectly for me: it wasn’t burnt to a crisp, but also wasn’t floppy. The few bites without bacon definitely suffered from a lack of bacon.

This is a limited item which may never see a wider release, but I hope it does. If the aim here was for an upscale pub style burger at a fast food price, I think they hit a home run. If you swapped out a Wendy’s patty for some high quality beef, I would absolutely pay $10+ for this burger. Every ingredient complemented each other and added to the experience. The burger just felt fresh and good.

There are only two downsides that I saw. First, it was sloppy. Wendy’s burgers just can’t stay composed and by the end it was definitely messy and I was working to keep everything together. Second, this is a bacon cheeseburger on a damn croissant. It may as well come with a defibrillator. Adding on a small box of fries (plus some spicy chicken nuggets…), and I definitely needed to walk most of the way home after finishing my meal. But if you grab some extra napkins and plan a workout session, the Truffle Bacon Cheeseburger is definitely worth your time and stomach space if it appears near you.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Note: I have now started and stopped this post three times (as you can tell by the lack of updates here). Not sure why this sandwich was so uninspiring, but I apologize for this post and it’s disjointed nature.

This box looks a little busy

This box looks a little busy

I originally ate McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse before Taco Bell’s breakfast menu had been revealed. However, due to reasons, the post got pushed back. Luckily, McDonald’s is still advertising this as a new sandwich. This would be strange for most places, but considering that most new McDonald’s items consist of slapping together existing ingredients and adding one flourish to make it unique, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This is not to say that I don’t like McDonald’s; it’s just that as the market leader, they aren’t innovative (except in areas where they’re making drinks), but their interest to challenge Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t particularly interest me.

Enough of my McDonald’s thoughts, let’s actually discuss the sandwich and the experience, alright? This was a new McDonald’s, as the company seems to be trying to move away from their bright red and yellow past into something more modern and apt to attract people who don’t want to eat in a place that looks like a clown show. This is good, I guess? I like free wifi. Anyway, I ordered a medium meal and it cost $7.19 pre tax. A little on the expensive side, or at least it seems like it was expensive. (As a quick diversion, I used to work at McDonald’s, so paying for anything there is still a shock to the system, even though I stopped working there around 10 years ago). The food took around 5 minutes to come out.

The sandwich was presented in a nice box, which a paper wrap around the sandwich to help with lifting. The paper was actually a nice touch here since the sandwich took up most of the box, so there was no way to pick it up without getting my hands messy and shuffling ingredients in the burger. Since it was big compared to the box, my first view was of the bun, which looked fancy. Or at least nicer than the usual sesame seed bun. It also smelled damn good, but that’s because all I smelled was bacon. Quick tip for fast food restaurants: regardless of the quality of your bacon, it always smells good. Make your establishments smell like that.

Wasn't kidding when I said the burger took up the whole box (alternate: they made the boxes smaller)

Wasn’t kidding when I said the burger took up the whole box (alternate: they made the boxes smaller)

The Bacon Clubhouse Burger is “[t]hick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, carmelized grilled onions, white cheddar, crisp leaf lettuce and fresh tomato, all lovingly layered on a quarter pound of 100% pure beef, then topped with Big Mac special sauce. Served on [an] artisan roll.” So what we have here is flowery language for a fancy Quarter Pounder with some Big Mac sauce. An updated Big N Tasty, if you will.

I tried to pick this up and, once again, I thanked them for that paper wrap around the burger, because it was already slipping and sliding. This is going to be messy. My first bite was dominated by bacon. I got a good chunk in there, plus the smell. After I got beyond the bacon though, this was dry. The artisan bun was not doing it’s job as it was actually detracting from the experience with its dryness. It looked nice, but that’s the nicest thing I can say about it. When sampled alone it was buttery and reminded me of potato bread, but it didn’t work here.

Flat

Flat

Going beyond the bun, I got a bit of the grilled carmelized onions. I generally hate onions, and this is really the only preparation where I find them tolerable. I have to say, they weren’t too bad. The onion flavor was a bit strong for my liking, but they did a good job with these.

Fresh ingredients!

Fresh ingredients!

My second bite was salty, as the bacon overtook the dry bun and asserted its dominance in the sandwich. I got a taste of the cheddar here, and it seemed to be a strong American cheese. It did its job in providing an accent, without overpowering anything. The Big Mac sauce was a welcome addition. I like McDonald’s utilizing it on more sandwiches. It tastes good, and sometimes I want it, but don’t feel like fighting through all the bread on the Big Mac, nor do I want to make a special order. Having another sandwich with the option is great.

The burger looks really dark

The burger looks really dark

As I continued eating, the burger became really salty. Not sure if that was just because of the bacon, but I found myself repeatedly going to my soda to alleviate the salty taste. When I finally got all the sandwich components in one bite, the bacon and Big Mac Sauce saved the day. They are the two standouts here, and if you’re ordering this sandwich, those are the flavors that you really want to shine anyway. The onions added a good crunch, but the flavor was lost in this bite.

Oozing sauce

Oozing sauce

The problem with the sauce is how they slathered it on the sandwich. It’s on both the top and bottom buns, which is why the sandwich is so slippery and I was having a hard time holding it. In addition, because I had to guard against sauce squirting out at two different spots, this was messy.

Sandwich guts!

Sandwich guts!

The burger was a letdown. While McDonald’s doesn’t have the juiciest or best tasting burgers, they’re generally well seasoned and taste like beef. I did not get that here. It was just a dry wad in the middle of my sandwich. The bacon itself smelled like heaven. It was a little overdone for my taste, but that’s generally how McDonald’s makes its bacon.

The lettuce at least looked fresh, but there was way too much of it. It was falling out of the sandwich, and of course sauce was in all the crevices. I had to take some off so I could continue eating. I have no notes on the tomato, which at least means it wasn’t terrible and needed to be taken off.

Bread is slipping

Bread is slipping

So what do we really have here? A salty, over sauced sandwich that serves as a delivery vehicle for bacon and Big Mac sauce, and is really messy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing… but it’s also not making me run out to McDonald’s to eat this again. And with the luxury of eating this when it first came out, and writing this in December, I can say that I’ve been to McDonald’s probably an average of once a month since then, and have never thought of eating this again. That’s the problem with McDonald’s: the new items, at least in the traditional fast food category aren’t particularly exciting. They’re #1 and don’t need to take any chances, so instead we sandwiches that have small tweaks on the margins (New sauce! Bacon!), but don’t really change anything. This is a perfectly cromulent burger, but that’s all I can honestly say about it.

Taco Bell offers two burritos on its breakfast menu. I decided to split them up by day, just so I wouldn’t have burrito overload. You can read about the Steak and Egg Burrito here. This post will talk about the Breakfast Burrito with Bacon. Eating them over two days was a good idea since they were fairly similar in taste. 

Burrito Time

Burrito Time

As with the Steak and Egg Burrito, the size was striking: this thing looked pretty small. Luckily, this was factored into the cost, as it was only $1.69 (once again using Google for pricing here). It was wrapped in the standard burrito packaging, so nothing special here. 

Lots of tortilla in that bite

Lots of tortilla in that bite

Taco Bell describes the Breakfast Burrito with Bacon as “flavorful bacon, a double portion of fluffy scrambled eggs and lots of warm, melted cheddar cheese, all wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla.” Of course my first bite was all tortilla. I expect that when dealing with fast food burritos, and usually try and guess which end will contain real ingredients, but obviously I was wrong here. My second bite got some eggs and cheese. Like the Steak & Egg Burrito, this wasted good. It was like a plain breakfast burrito. You can’t go wrong with that.

Looks like its about to explode

Looks like it’s about to explode 

At the third bite, I finally got some bacon, and that helped to tie everything together. I don’t want to go through the individual ingredients again (at this point I’ve written about all of them), but this was a solid breakfast burrito. It could have used some more bacon (same complaint as the AM Crunchwrap), or, it could have used a sauce and/or some spice. Something to add a bit more flavor and make it less dry. The creamy jalapeño sauce on the AM Crunchwrap would have also worked here. I wound up dipping the burrito into Fire Sauce, and that worked wonders. And to tie up the experience, somehow my last bite was also just tortilla. Someone needs a burrito wrapping lesson. 

Burrito guts!!! (And the only slightly normal photo I took of this)

Burrito guts!!! (And the only slightly normal photo I took of this)

Short post, but not much to say. This isn’t an exotic offering, it’s just a workmanlike breakfast burrito. I’d be intrigued to try this with sausage, though the sauce complaint would still stand. This is another case where Taco Bell could have a really good item, with some small tweaks. Overall though, while this is fine, no one is going to Taco Bell for a regular breakfast burrito. This is something to complete a meal with one of the weirder options. 

Also, as a quick comparison to the Steak and Egg Burrito: there really wasn’t much difference. Every ingredient is the same other than choice of meat, and the portion size is the same, so unless you’re really hankering for some steak, you’re better off saving some money and going with the cheaper option.

I have been away for too long, and for that, I apologize. For readers who don’t know actually me (there are a few!), there were legitimate reasons why I have not posted recently. HOWEVER, the blog is not, and has never been dead. I have been continuing to eat new items whenever I have the opportunity, and I have some good stuff coming down the pipeline, even if it’s no longer timely. We’ll be finishing off the Taco Bell breakfast menu, then I’ll get to McDonald’s, Del Taco, and White Castle. As always, suggestions on things to do next are always welcomed, but I still have a list that’s at least 10 deep, so I’m not hurting for ideas at the moment.

 

The AM Crunchwrap

The AM Crunchwrap

Next up on our tour of the Taco Bell breakfast menu is the A.M. Crunchwrap. I’ve had the regular crunchwrap supreme and wasn’t a huge fan of it. The proportions always seemed off, there was too much tortilla, and I’m not a big fan of sour cream, and it was piled with that. However, this was sour cream free, and it looks like a flat breakfast burrito. What could go wrong?

The A.M. Crunchwrap comes with your choice of meat: bacon, sausage or steak. Unfortunately, since it’s been about three months since I ate this, I have lost the receipt. However, using the handy Google machine, the price for bacon or sausage is $2.49 before tax (which sounds familiar), while steak costs $2.99 pre tax. I opted for the bacon for a little variety.

Looks like a cartoon UFO door

Looks like a cartoon UFO door

Upon first glance, this was smaller than I thought it’d be. I don’t know if I was misremembering the regular Crunchwrap Supreme, or if they made it smaller for breakfast, but I expected a larger sandwich. Now, this wasn’t a problem since I was eating half the breakfast menu for the second time in three days, but if you’re just stopping in, maybe you’d want something larger.

Taco Bell describes the A.M. Crunchwrap as “all the classic breakfast tastes like fluffy scrambled eggs, a golden crispy has brown, real cheddar cheese, flavorful bacon and creamy jalapeno sauce wrapped in a warm flour tortilla and grilled.” So basically, this is meant to be your complete breakfast shoved into a tortilla. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Slightly odd seeing a sandwich so condensed

Slightly odd seeing a sandwich so condensed

The first bite was great: I managed to get all of the ingredients. Compared to some of the other offerings, the staff was trained very well on making these. The jalapeno sauce really shines through here. First, it’s just damn tasty. It gives some heat without either overpowering the other ingredients, but the taste is strong enough that it doesn’t hide. Second, considering most of the other offerings were dry and needed some Fire Sauce to really get going, the fact that this actually comes with its own sauce shows that Taco Bell really can pull off this breakfast thing.

Let’s talk about the hashbrown in a sandwich. This is a phenomenal idea in concept, but frequently risky in execution (note: I’m also including fries in that assessment). The problem with putting fries/hashbrowns in sandwiches is that they tend to get soggy, which means they aren’t crispy, so the sandwich loses texture, and you’re stuck with a greasy, soggy potato slab that really just weighs everything down. Not the case here. The hashbrown stayed crispy throughout the whole eating experience. And I mean the whole experience. They cut the hashbrowns so it covered the whole tortilla. There were no hashbrown-less bites.

Well proportioned

Well proportioned

The bacon seemed like large bacon bits. They were chewy and had a smoky flavor when isolated, but frequently took a back seat to everything else. Maybe there needs to be more bacon here (though I think this is a problem in general with breakfast sandwiches. There’s usually not enough bacon, so you’re always getting more bang for your buck if you just choose sausage).

As the eating continued, the jalapeno sauce started taking over and the eggs and cheese faded in the background, while the bacon wasn’t substantial enough to override the spicy flavor. This is definitely a case where sausage would have stood up better to the sauce and made this even better. Lastly, this was a very clean sandwich. It wasn’t messy, and everything stayed in the wrapper without falling or dripping off the sides. As regular readers know, this is something I very much appreciate.

Still a lot of sandwich to go!

Still a lot of sandwich to go!

I love fried potatoes. Any sandwich that incorporates fried potatoes, and does it well, is a sandwich I’m going to enjoy. Despite its small stature, this was surprising filling, and it would be even more so with sausage, as opposed to the bacon. Taco Bell got the sauce right, and the tortilla isn’t too thick. This may not be the lightest sandwich, and I’m not sure I’d recommend it for someone in a hurry, but it is a quality sandwich, and I’d definitely eat it again.

 

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t like bacon? Nobody, that’s who! Or at least no one will admit it unless they’re willing to become a pariah on the internet. Jack in the Box saw everyone’s obsession with bacon, and  created a burger that works solely as a vessel to deliver more bacon into everyone’s pie holes. That Jack in the Box made this burger is not surprising; they seem to have looked at the fast food landscape and seen most places move towards healthier options and decided to move in the opposite direction (see: the munchies meals).

What would constitute a burger emergency?

What would constitute a burger emergency?

I dined in for this meal, and holy crap this Jack in the Box location was cold. I normally don’t like to eat in sweatshirts, but I couldn’t take mine off without shivering. However, the guy behind the register complimented my hat, so I’ll consider each of those a wash, and conclude that the ambience was good. I got a medium meal, which came out to $7.70. Not bad for fast food, but actually kind of expensive for Jack in the Box. I guess the price of bacon has gone up.

Good lookin' buns

Good lookin’ buns

This was another boxed sandwich. At this point I wonder how much material is being wasted by everyplace putting sandwiches in boxes. I don’t quite see the point of them if the sandwich is well wrapped, and this sandwich was wrapped. Maybe it helps them retain heat? Anyway, at first glance, this looks like a good burger. It’s well constructed; I can see all of the ingredients. The bun appears not to be burnt. And it smells really good. Because it smells like bacon. Just so much bacon.

Profile shot

Profile shot 

The folks at Jack in the Box call this “a bacon triple threat. A juicy beef patty mixed with savory pieces of bacon. This new bacon and beef patty is sandwiched between hickory smoked bacon and topped with creamy bacon mayo, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese… on [their] new soft warm brioche bun.” As I said: so much bacon. On my first bite, I actually got all of the components at once! This tastes pretty amazing! My first impression: so much bacon. This is really bacony. Like I get that there are other things on this sandwich because there are different textures here, but everything tastes like bacon.

Not the healthiest looking tomatoes...

Not the healthiest looking tomatoes…

So. Much. Bacon.

So. Much. Bacon.

I was intrigued by the bacon mayo. I know it exists, but it seemed like an exotic ingredient for a fast food burger. I isolated it and it had a tangy taste. I honestly thought it was ranch until I realized there was only one spread on the sandwich. You can see the little bacon flecks in it, though it didn’t taste overwhelmingly like bacon. Maybe it was because they didn’t put a lot of the mayo on there. The sandwich was a bit dry.

Still holding together well

Still holding together well

There was so much bacon that I thought there were two layers of it in there. The bacon itself had a nice crisp and smoky flavor. As for the patty with bacon bits in it, it was a bit dry. In addition, I wasn’t sure if the patty had actual chopped up bacon in it, or just bacon bits. Regardless, it did have a strong bacon taste and little bacon pieces were chewy. There wasn’t much of a beef taste to the patty, but maybe that’s a good thing; it may have overshadowed the bacon.

Tomatoes spilling out

Tomatoes spilling out

As for the non-bacon items here, they play a good supporting role. I believe I’ve been disappointed with Jack in the Box’s bun in past, but they’ve improved on their formula. It was nice and soft and absorbed some of the bacon mayo. The lettuce and tomato also were big additions because they helped to offset the bacon overload. The coolness and texture complemented the meatiness of everything else. Without some good lettuce and tomato in here, this would have been difficult to finish. As you can tell from the pictures, these weren’t the best tomatoes ever, but they did their job. I feel like I  shortchange the cheese every week. All I can say here is that it didn’t get in the way of anything that was more important (re: bacon).

Sandwich guts

Sandwich guts

At the end, this sandwich did get a bit messy and it was falling apart. Luckily, the paper wrap around the burger helped keep things together, which is a lesson more places seem to be learning. Eating is a more enjoyable experience if my hands aren’t covered with grease and sauce at the end, with me struggling to keep everything in the bread.

A little sloppy and uneven

A little sloppy and uneven

I have now written 700 words, yet anyone’s opinion of the Bacon Insider comes down to one question: how much do you really like bacon? I enjoyed the sandwich. There was definitely a strong bacon flavor in every bite (mission accomplished!) but it never overwhelmed me or made me sick, which was a worry going in. If you really like eating lots of bacon, I think you’ll enjoy this. If not, then stay away, because this will not be a pleasant experience. I don’t have any real suggestions to improve things here, because Jack in the Box accomplished what they set out to do. So congratulations to them, and I need a goddamn vegetable. Bacon.