This is a place that I never thought I would have the pleasure of writing up, a food blog post about everybody’s favourite past time, McDonald’s! A lot of people (especially ‘foodies’) hate McDonald’s, but to be honest I’ve never bought into all that. McDonald’s has always been good to me, giving me one of my first jobs in my teen years and always being consistent when other places weren’t. That’s one thing I think people underestimate here, consistency. I love KFC as much as the next guy, but think about it, how often are you out with your friends and they’re like ‘Hey man lets go to KFC, we’re near Town Hall’ and someone inevitably says ‘Nah, that’s the worst KFC in Sydney’. It’s true right? I’ve definitely said that before! For some reason, the delicious chicken skin’s from that KFC always seem to fall off and the chicken is extra greasy, it is actually the worst KFC. It didn’t hit me until recently that I’ve never said that about McDonald’s, they’re all pretty good, and sometimes in this crazy world of ours, pretty good all the time is something to aspire to.
In recent times, you may have noticed that I’m not entirely in love with the whole hipster fad that’s around us at the moment (and the last 10 years it feels like). I like hipster joints, I do, it’s just, so much. So recently when I was back in Sydney, I decided to go visit an eatery that I regularly frequented in my university day, a place on Sussex Street in Chinatown called Yee King Hand-Made Noodles. Least hipster place you would have ever seen, had decor that wouldn’t be out of place in an old John Woo film and it made the most exceptional pork in foil dish that you could have ever tried. I went there to find that it was closed for good, replaced by just another hipster cafe. Another real restaurant in a long line of cool places dying out, a multicultural paradise slowly dying to a homogeneous hipster culture.
Anyway, McDonald’s, the last great bastion of scummy food, has now tried its hand at being a hipster burger joint, offering a ‘create your own burger’ experience using a giant touch screen. The touch screen is honestly one of my flavour things and reminds me a lot of travelling to Japan. There is nothing I loved more about Japan, than the fact that it was quite easy to go to a place, sit down, have a meal, pay and never in that whole process, speak to another human being. McDonald’s has a similar process here, the entire ordering process happens on the touch screen and you can even pay there and just go grab a table or wait until your number is called out, if you’re ordering takeaway. The touch screen ordering system also works for their normal menu items. It’s almost like Skynet, so if you’re one of those people that believes in those things, I’d start getting a bit worried now.
With the McDonald’s Create Your Taste experience, there are quite a few options, including traditional McDonald’s ingredients and new hipster options as well. To build your own burger, you get a choose everything from your bun, your fillings to your drinks. For each option, you get a few options, including:
- for the bun, you get the choice of a bakery bun or a brioche
- for the cheese, you get the choice of classic McDonald’s cheese, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, colby jack and shaved parmesan. We managed to order two two different cheeses without being charged extra, so who knows maybe it’s unlimited (though I think it might be a max of three)!
- for the fillings or ‘taste’ section you get to add a whole lot of different ingredients to your burger, including Angus patty, streaky bacon and rasher bacon, an egg, mushrooms, guacamole, crispy tortilla chips and pineapple. For the taste section, you can choose to add as many as you like and for each one, you can also add up to three servings, except for the Angus patty, maximum of two there
- for the salad or ‘freshness’ section, you can choose to include lettuce, tomato, grilled or fresh onion, pickles, beetroot and jalapeno. As with the taste section, you can add as my options as you want, and up to three servings to each
- for the sauces, there are quite a few different options, including BBQ, chipotle mayo, dijonnaise, herb aioli, ketchup, tomato chilli jam, aioli and Big Mac sauce! Thats right, you can get Big Mac sauce, one of the best sauces known to man. With the sauces, you can choose as many sauces as you want but only one of each, sadly no lathering of Big Mac sauce.
Alrightie, so I guess you’re over reading about how it works, time to see what it actually looks like when they put it all together. Here are the different McFrankenstein burgers that we built.
So first up we had the, well I guess there isn’t an official name for it, so here we have the McOuk Burger ($17) including medium fries and a drink. Yeah, it was pretty pricey, but you can kind of see that we went for the whole hog. We ended up with:
- bakery bun
- colby jack and cheddar cheese
- two Angus patties, crispy bacon and tortilla chips
- lettuce, tomato, pickles and grilled onions
- Big mac sauce
This was one big burger and of course a little messy to eat, with the multiple elements and what not. When I bit into it, the Angus patty juices poured out the bottom, and toppings were just flying everywhere. I’m going to put this down to how tall and massive the burger was and take responsibility for any poor eating techniques but in any case, it was our fault for stacking it so high, but really, when you’re in the headlights and making those choices on the screen, it’s impossible not to get carried away!
I guess you’re all wondering how the burger tasted, and the answer is, it was surprisingly nice. Not the best burger I’ve ever had or anything but still pretty darn good and definitely not what you would expect from McDonald’s. It is a little pricey and all but hey, thats what we get for loving the hipster move so much. Would I get it again, yeah probably.
There was something unmistakably comforting about this burger. I guess its because most of these ingredients are already available on McDonald’s menu and if you ever thought to yourself ‘Man I really want to try tortilla chips in my burger, but I don’t really want to go get that Mexican chilli chicken burger’ then this is absolutely perfect for you. But, if you’re someone that’s thinking ‘Wow! McDonald’s is serving chips in a little fry basket on a chopping board, it must be haute cuisine!’ Then you’re probably going to walk away a tad disappointed. As much as I enjoyed it, I know I love my grubby food more than most. This is a McDonald’s burger through and through, though in my case, it was an exceptionally big one.
Of course, we came back a couple times and got a few extra burgers, so here’s the sequel to the previous burger, the McOuk Burger 2: Oukment Day ($15), including fries and a drink. Like with the first burger, we went all out again, adding everything and anything to the burger. With this burger, we got the following:
- brioche bun
- colby jack and shredded parmesan
- one Angus patty, rasher bacon, egg and grilled mushrooms
- lettuce, tomato and pickles
- chipotle mayo
We decided to go with something completely different for this burger, mainly to test and see which options we like more. Here, we tried the brioche bun, the grilled mushrooms and egg. I like the brioche, it was completely different to the bakery bun, giving you a little bit of sweetness and plenty of richness. I also enjoyed the addition of mushroom, grilled with plenty of char. The only thing I didn’t really enjoy was the egg. Its just that egg you get with the McDonald’s bacon (or sausage) and egg muffins in the morning. The ones where the egg yolk is completely overcooked. Its not bad if you enjoy hard boiled eggs but for me, I wanted to creamy and delicious egg yolk as I bite into my burger. Outside of that, pretty cool burger.
And, we did this a third time, so you can see I must not have hated it, I present to you the McOuk Burger 3: Ouk Hard with a Vengeance ($15.50), including fries and drinks. For this burger, I went back for some of my favourites, plus sampling the avocado. Here, we grabbed the:
- bakery bun
- colby jack and swiss cheese
- one angus patty, crispy bacon
- lettuce, tomato, pickle, grilled onions, avocado, tortilla chips
- Big mac sauce
I probably won’t go on about the burgers again, but I do want to mention the guacamole. I didn’t get any of the others times, we had already stacked our burgers too high. Hence, I decided to save it for later. I was pretty happy that it was only 60c to add guacamole to your burger, instead of $3 which I was totally expecting an preparing for.
I must say, although all three burgers had a similar combination of ingredients and what not, each one had a distinct flavour and I enjoyed each in their own little way. After trying all these different combinations, if and when I go back, I think my ideal combination is the bakery bun with two Angus patties, crispy bacon, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions and Big mac sauce. To me, that would be the perfect combination of saucy meat combined with crunchiness from the bacon, sweetness from the pineapple and of course the other salads balancing it all out. Finally, Big mac sauce to bring it all together. Because Big mac sauce > every other sauce.
One really cool thing to note is that McDonald’s seem to have added a bunch of really cool specialty drinks to the menu as well! This was extremely surprising to me because it’s not often that McDonald’s does something that isn’t advertised so heavily that you kind of feel that you’re ‘lovin it’ before you even try it, yet these drinks, whilst being actually quite cool and tasty went completely under the radar for me!
There’s a couple of them, but the ones we ended up with were the Sparkling apple and elderflower, and the Sparkling ginger beer. We honestly didn’t expect much from these drinks, but upon first tasting them, the gasps of delight were impossible to hide. It’s hard to really explain it, but they both tasted exactly as they should’ve. I’ve been to cool hipster joints with ‘homemade sodas’ for $9 and these tasted just as good. Maybe I’m a bit of a soda plebeian, but I just really enjoyed these drinks, and think they’re amazing value.
I really enjoyed this whole ‘Create Your Taste’ experience, the concept, table service and food were all pretty interesting and tasty. The service staff were actually really pleasant and again, something you’d expect from a normal cafe. Finally, my favourite part was how visually pleasing each of these burgers looked. They actually looked like something you would expect to find from your hipster cafe but instead here at McDonald’s. Gone are the days of lopsided burgers, sauce sprayed all over the wrapping instead of on the patty or bun and just plain horrible messes. Instead now you get burgers that you look at and go, ‘yup, I want to eat that’.
As much as I enjoyed these Create Your Test burgers, I feel like it’s my duty to explain that at the end of the day you’re still getting a McDonald’s burger and if you’re a fan of that sort of food, you probably won’t mind this at all. But if you’re into the finer things in life, you may need to prepare yourself for this mentally. I’d hate to see you walk away disappointed after all.
Oh, I almost forgot to add, these Create Your Taste burgers are now available from pretty much all stores, I’ve seen them in quite a few McDonald’s across Canberra now.
Corner of Badham Street and Dickson Place, Dickson
Monday to Sunday