Ummm, yeah, so this really is a blog post about McDonalds. Look, let me explain. Chris and I have been champing at the bit to find out what this “Create your Taste” thing is all about ever since we heard about the idea. Recently, Mulgrave McDonalds has been offering table service and “gourmet” burgers… So good they claim it’s worth getting out of your car for it! Hold on now I hear you say – table service and gourmet burgers – good enough to get out of your car – ARE YOU CRAZY… Yep you heard right.
The new “Create your Taste” is a big change. I first read about the new changes with some scepticism late last year. Ah, McDonalds, jumping on the gourmet bandwagon I thought, yeah, like that will work. But then, their foray into café foods and beverages (McCafé) seems to have worked – at least from the perspective of an outsider. For McDonalds to survive they have to move with the times, and I guess people actually want to eat food that tastes and looks like – well, close enough anyway – to food. Who would have thought? Actually, I think a sizable portion of the market is indicating a preference for quality – and they are prepared to pay for it. This is where the “Create your Taste” option fits in. Anyway, regardless of why it’s happening, this menu is being slowly rolled out and is now available in about 16 McDonalds’ around Australia. Today Chris, Katie and I, visited Mulgrave McDonalds to find what all the fuss was about.
When you first arrive at McDonalds, you’re probably used to waiting in line to order from the counter. However, with the “Create your Taste”, there are touch screens installed and you actually use these and have the option to pay at the machine. There is help available from one of the McCafé team members should you need it – which I did, and she was very helpful. You get a whole host of options, from buns, to cheeses to toppings etc… The McDonalds website explains:
“Create Your Taste is all about you making your very own gourmet burger. Choose from a range of 30 delicious ingredients like guacamole, chipotle sauce, crispy bacon, Colby Jack cheese, shaved parmesan and tortilla strips to create a mouth-watering masterpiece.”
I chose the Brioche bun, with double Angus beef patties, Colby Jack and Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, Dijonaise and ketchup. The price for all of this including fries and a large coke was $17.60. That’s pretty pricey for McDonalds, but pretty reasonable if we were at a café or restaurant. As for the ordering system – It took me two goes as I accidently wiped my first attempted order. The system could use a little tweaking, like allowing you to order the same cheese more than once, but apart from a couple of little things like that, it was pretty straight forward. You then had to grab what looked like one of those buzzers you get at the pub and then find your seat. The buzzer aren’t there so that you know when to go up and get your food – no, no, you get table service here. They are in fact there so that the staff can locate where you are sitting and bring your food to you. This is not like the McDonalds you’ve had before. The burgers come out on wooden paddles and the chips come out in a little wire basket. You could almost imagine that you were in a normal restaurant for a moment – except for the fact that you are still sitting inside a McDonalds. At least the Mulgrave McDonalds is reasonable nice inside and out. The food actually took a while, but eventually it was served to us by a friendly staff member. I’d imagine she had received quite a bit of training, she even smiled and was friendly (Actually unlike many cafés around town).
First look at the burger and it looked really appealing and well put together – unlike anything I’ve ever purchased from McDonalds before. The patties were the same patties you get for the Grand Angus, the quarter pound Angus patties. The difference was that these had clearly been grilled not “microwaved” or what ever it is that they do it heat them as usual. And the difference was clearly noticeable. The cheese had been allowed to melt nicely and encase the patty in a very appealing way. These burgers actually, truthfully, looked good – you wanted to eat them when they were set before you. I know – none of this makes sense. Clearly, something has happened to the space time continuum and I have somehow been transported into an alternative reality… That’s the only way I can explain it. Let’s just assume that these all makes sense and not think about it too much or the universe may just collapse in on itself…
Tastewise they weren’t too bad either. The bun was quite thin so there was a good bread to meat ratio. The salad elements were fresh and crisp, and the bacon was actually quite good. The meat wasn’t great, but I’ve had far worse. It’s still your normal McDonalds Angus patty, and it’s overcooked. However with the melted cheese and the fact that it’s got a fairly high fat content means that it’s still juicy enough. The Biggest let down is the lack of real flavour. Everything is far too timid and mild. Katie and Chris both included the Chipotle mayo and neither could really taste much.
The cheeses are all very mild and the sauces need more zing. They have played it too safe, and as a result, the burgers are nice, but lack punch. The upside is that you don’t get the bloated, “oh god I just ate McDonalds” feeling that accompanies the normal burger binge at the golden arches! Both Katie and Chris were happy with their burgers and there was a lot of chat about what to rate the burger. We all felt a little weird enjoying the burgers here to be honest. But the reality is that they were actually pretty decent burgers. I’d give them a 6.5 – yes I know, I just rated a McDonalds burger… I don’t know what is going on with the universe!