Burger King has been moving through new burgers and sandwiches at a fast clip this year. This is good, for me, in that it gives me more to write about. It’s also become something of a double-edged sword, as I haven’t been able to review everything I’ve wanted to. Their Chicken Philly sandwich in particular is one I’m sad to have missed. It’s also something I need to make sure to stay on top of, to maximize the usefulness of these reviews. So without further ado, here’s the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger!

I stole this promotional image off of Huffington Post, which makes me happy.

I stole this promotional image off of Huffington Post, which makes me happy.

This is actually Burger King’s second attempt at a stuffed hamburger patty. Like the Stuffed Steakhouse XT, the patty has chopped bits of ingredients mixed in, as opposed to a central pocket of cheese or something. This patty includes bacon bits and nuggets of cheddar cheese. It’s not terrible, per se, but there’s not quite enough of a flavor from the cooked-in ingredients to make it worthwhile. I don’t really think this is Burger King’s fault. The best stuffed burgers I’ve ever had have either been home-cooked or made to order at a steakhouse or burger joint. It’s a conceit that doesn’t translate well to machine-pressed patties, and Burger King isn’t really equipped to cook any other way. The rest of it (lettuce, tomatoes, onion rings, ketchup and mayo) is all fine, but nothing special.

Being as it’s Burger King, the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger runs $7-8 in a combo. While it’s not inedible, the execution doesn’t nearly live up to the concept. I’d avoid this one. There are plenty of other interesting options at BK right now, including a turkey burger and veggie burger, and I can’t imagine they’re going to slow down over there this summer. Save your money and try next month’s special.

For better or worse, the “wretched excess” theme of fast food sandwiches that seemed to define the past couple of years has died down. Rarely are there viral news stories of sandwiches which eschew bread and vegetables for fried eggs and bacon. The combination of an increased focus on health-consciousness and the rise of coffee shop-style beverages has chased the more extreme offenders from the field. But Wendy’s, the second largest burger chain in the world, persists. Their Baconator is a Ron Swansonesque conglomeration of meats, mayo and cheese. It’s available in single, double, and triple patty sizes, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to go to Wendy’s and order a sandwich called “The Baconator” and only get a single, or double, right?

"Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets."

“Clear alcohols are for rich women on diets.”

Remember the old saying about too much of a good thing being bad?  Here, it’s not so much bad as it is disappointing. The Baconator is beef, bacon, American cheese, mayo and ketchup on a bun. Getting the larger sizes means they just stack another layer of the ingredients on top. All the ingredients are fine by themselves, but so much beef and bacon without any strong sauces or vegetables to add some variety gets monotonous real fast. I understand that that’s kind of the point of the whole thing, but couldn’t we have some “manly” vegetables? Surely grilled onions or peppers wouldn’t have been too out of place here?

The Triple Baconator reaches a point where it almost ceases to be a sandwich, and just kind of becomes a way to shovel meat into your mouth. Normally, I’d love that. But here it just feels uninspired, a belated way to cash in on the Man vs. Food level of excess without really saying anything new. A Triple Baconator combo goes for about $8-9. Save your money and go with a smaller, more satisfying sandwich, like the wonderfully-named “Son of Baconator.”

In the tradition of the KFC Double Down and other infamous meals, Taco Bell has released the Doritos Locos Tacos, a taco supreme wrapped in a Doritos Nacho Cheesier corn chip shell. Weird naming issues aside (“tacos” is used a the singular form here?), it’s an interesting concept, and the combination of two heavyweight junk foods has promise, at least from a novelty standpoint.  But does it deliver?

TACO TOWN!!

Barely.  Really, the problem with this thing is that it’s not over the top enough.  The taco supreme base is standard ground beef with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese.  There’s nothing there that’s super interesting.  The shell is alright, but the Nacho flavoring isn’t strong enough to make it worthwhile.  The combination of Doritos and sour cream is a start, but there needs to be another sauce or something. Again, it’s not so much that it’s bad, it’s just not very different from a normal hard-shelled ground beef taco.

The Doritos Locos Tacos is about $2 and can be bought as part of a $5 box meal.  It’s worth checking out once if you’re curious, and more times if your happen to really like taco supremes. Outside of the novelty though, there’s not much to recommend for this one, so don’t feel bad if you miss it.  I do hope they go back to the drawing board on this one, I’d like to try a more innovative take on it.

I posted before about being underwhelmed by Big Boy’s new burger line.  I had said that they need some new ideas to really stand out in the world of higher end restaurant hamburgers.  Well, they must have heard me or something, because on my most recent trip to Big Boy I discovered they’ve introduced a burger to end all burgers.  The Kitchen Sink consists of a patty, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, red onion, red relish, mayonnaise, American and pepper jack cheeses, bacon, chili, French fries, and a fried egg.  It was such a daunting prospect that I required some convincing from my brother, but in the end I realized that this is the kind of sandwich I got into the business for, and good or bad, I needed to cover it.

The champagne of burgers!!

And believe it or not, it turned out to be pretty good!!  I know I have a soft spot for excessive burgers, but there’s a lot going right for the Kitchen Sink.  The chili, fries, and egg all work together well for a hearty, filling burger.  As you work your way inward, you begin to reach the more traditional toppings, but the red relish and pickles lend it a sweeter, tangier twist.  It’s a lot of food, but all of the ingredients work together harmoniously enough to keep you engaged.  I would’ve liked more French fries included, as I think potatoes are an underused sandwich element, but overall I was floored by how well a burger which seems like a dare worked.

The Kitchen Sink runs for about $9, which is kind of a lot.  But it’s definitely worth getting, especially to impress your friends.  The chili, egg, fries and bacon combo alone is fantastic, and there’s another burger’s worth of ingredients besides.

Old Burdick’s is a local restaurant franchise with locations around the Kalamazoo area.  I’m kind of surprised I haven’t reviewed them before, they’re kind of a mainstay in the area, since they have a full menu of lunch and dinner entrees as well as a full bar.  Anyway, I’ve had the Triple Threat, one of their latest burgers, recommended to me multiple times, and since a friend from out of town was visiting, I decided to splurge and check it out.

The Triple Threat, in all its posed glory.

The Triple Threat consists of a half-pound burger patty, a bratwurst patty, and a wheel of fried Provolone cheese, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.  As a fan of larger, more ambitious fare, it looked to be right up my alley: not quite Man vs. Food scale, but with a classiness and a vision I enjoy.

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According to a number of sources around the internet, Burger King Japan is introducing a new burger which will push the envelope even farther than we thought possible.  Called the “Meat Monster”, the burger includes two hamburger patties, a chicken breast, cheese, and bacon, as well as lettuce, tomatoes and onion.  The creation weighs in at 1,160 calories and costs 820 yen (roughly $10 American).  In addition, BK’s “have it your way” mantra allows for additional ingredients including fish filets and fried eggs (actually a pretty popular burger topping in Japan). 

At this point, theres really nothing I can say thats more ridiculous or extreme than this image, so Ill just let it go.

It’s wretched excess, the kind of thing I would jokingly dream up using their website’s sandwich creator tool.  Still, I can’t help but find myself longing for the challenge of the meat monster, which currently isn’t planned to be exported outside Japan.  If any Japanese readers have an opportunity to try it, be sure and post how it is.  Hopefully good sales and buzz will bring it stateside, possibly to the New York Whopper Bar.  Until then, we’ll all just have to wonder…

Burger King’s latest addition to their Steakhouse XT line has been met with a lot of criticism.  It’s a hamburger patty with pieces of cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers mixed in.  A lot of people have decried this concept as being disgusting, but I’m hesitant to go that far.  I’ve heard of a number of burgers with things like chopped onions or pickles mixed in, and while this is a bit more extreme, it’s the same idea.  I didn’t want to be like the rest of the internet and review the Stuffed Steakhouse without trying it first, so I hit my local Burger King drive-thru and picked one up.

Now if it was full of cocktail shrimp or mini marshmallows or something, THAT would be gross.

And it’s not actually half bad!  First off, it doesn’t look nearly as unappetizing as the promotional pictures.  It actually just looks like a blackened patty with some seasoning bits in it.  It also is surprisingly subtle for a gimmick burger.  When you think about it, it makes sense.  It doesn’t have a whole slice of cheese or a ton of jalapeno spread slathered on it, so what’s in the burger is pretty much what you get.  There’s enough jalapeno to taste the flavor of the pepper, but it doesn’t have the intense heat of some “spicy” sandwiches, specifically the ones Burger King puts out.  The burger also comes with tomato, lettuce, and a poblano sauce which I didn’t even really notice.  All in all, it’s a perfectly decent burger that doesn’t overindulge in heat.

As a limited time premium offer, the Stuffed Steakhouse burger is pretty expensive.  Still, I’d recommend giving it a try.  It’s an interesting sandwich concept that doesn’t take it too far.  Buy this one so you can skip the inevitable “Bacon Crispy Onion BBQ Stuffed Steakhouse.”

I decided to go with a local hotspot this time! University Roadhouse is a restaurant/bar located just outside of Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College’s campuses. It offers a number of appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, as well as some pretty good drink specials. For this review, I decided to take on the Dare Ya Burger, the biggest and baddest burger they offer.

A burger worthy of Patrick Swayze.

The Dare Ya Burger features a half pound patty topped with smoked ham, bacon, swiss, cheddar, and pepper jack cheese, and served with lettuce, tomato, red onion and jalapeno peppers. I normally go for this type of over the top excess, but this burger really didn’t come together for me. All of the ingredients would’ve been fine on their own, or even in smaller combinations.  I don’t have any complaints about the quality or preparation of any one part of the sandwich. But making a sandwich is like composing music. You need to have a central theme or idea, and work with that, adding elements that complement your idea and avoiding those that work against it. Rather than being a symphony, the Dare Ya Burger ended up as a cacophony of flavors which at $8, I would be hesitant to recommend to anyone.

I feel bad that my first review of Roadhouse is a negative one. They have a number of other tasty burgers and sandwiches, and hopefully I’ll be posting a more positive review of theirs soon. However, a bad burger is a bad burger, and I’d say to skip the Dare Ya.

In an apparent misunderstanding of the meaning of the word “bar”, Burger King has recently opened a “Whopper Bar” in the Midtown area of Manhattan.  The Whopper Bar is a specialized BK location which serves a number of unique burgers and toppings, including a Bourbon Whopper and a California Whopper.  It also serves regular BK fare such as fries, onion rings, and shakes.  It does not, however, serve alcohol, the product which really makes a restaurant a bar.  It seems international locations serve beer, but Burger King has been more tentative introducing alcoholic beverages on its home turf.  Personally, I think it’s a bit absurd to try to redefine one’s brand as a bar without having the content to back it up. When McDonald’s created McCafe, they introduced a line of coffee and coffeehouse-style drinks.   However, the debate pales in comparison to this new monstrosity:

WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW??

The NY Pizza Burger is roughly four times the size of a regular Whopper and includes pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and marinara and Tuscan sauce.  It was allegedly created as an homage to New York pizza joints, in the same way Walmart was created as an homage to the mom and pop stores of yore.  It’s currently only available at the NY location, but with Burger King hoping to put Whopper Bars in airports, malls and the like, similar to McDonald’s McCafe units, it probably won’t be long before you can experience this horror for yourself.

To Burger King’s credit, the Pizza Burger isn’t intended to be eaten by one person.  It’s designed to be shared among friends, during a crazy night of not drinking at their fake bar.  However, I can say with almost absolute certainty that these will be consumed by individuals, fueling our nation’s obesity and generally embarrassing behaviors.  For shame, BK.  For shame.

In keeping with the theme of wretched excess, I decided to risk my life and try the “McGangBang“.  Don’t try to look for the McGangBang on McDonald’s website, you won’t find it.  This unofficial sandwich is a combination of a McDouble cheeseburger and a McChicken chicken sandwich.  It’s known by a number of questionable names, including the McGangBang, the McStroke, and the McMacro (a variant incorporating a side order of french fries and ketchup; I was not so adventurous).

A schematic diagram illustrating the concept.

Now, there’s a lot to discuss regarding this behemoth.  One is ordering it.  It’s possible the cashier at your local McDonald’s has heard of the McGangBang, and will whip one up for you.  It’s also possible that he or she reads Sandwichtalk, and will quickly add it to his or her repertoire.  It’s more likely, however, that your order will be met with a vacant stare, or worse, derision.  This is an easy issue to fix.  Both component sandwiches are on the dollar menu, so you can order them and assemble it yourself, like a puzzle.

The other thing about the McGangBang is that there’s not always a concensus on how it should look.  For example, a number of them look like this:

As you can see, it’s a pretty literal combination, with one sandwich sandwiched inside another.  It works, but I feel it lacks a certain amount of finesse.  I put a bit of a personal spin on it with mine:

Simple yet elegant.

Now before you all tell me I’m “doing it wrong”, remember that I transferred all the elements of the McChicken (chicken, lettuce, mayo) into the McDouble, I just didn’t use the bun because it seemed like overkill.  Also, it’s my blog and I’ll make disgusting sandwiches however I want.  Now, onto the review!!

The sandwich was actually much better than I expected.  It’s definitely over the top, but the grocery list of ingredients (two hamburger patties, chicken, ketchup, mustard, cheese, pickles, mayo, lettuce, and onions) come together in interesting ways throughout the sandwich.  One bite is a juxtaposition of chicken and beef, while the next combines the chicken, pickles, and mayo for a Chik Fil A style taste.  The flavors are continuously changing and recombining.  If I were to do it again, I might include the heel from the McChicken to break up the meat a little bit, but hindsight is 20/20.  It’s a unique sandwich experience, to say the least.

It’s also cheap.  As I discussed before, you can make it yourself for a mere $2, or try to bargain with your cashier.  I can only imagine the carbs, fat and sodium involved, so obviously I have reservations recommending it, but if you want an interesting, inexpensive sandwich and a story to tell your friends, the McGangBang is for you.

P.S.  Don’t worry, Sandwichtalk isn’t going to turn into some Man v. Food-esque show of me choking down ridiculous meals.  This was a suggestion from a friend, and the way current trends are going, I figured I should do it now before it ends up on the menu and becomes more expensive.