Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Lazy Cow Stratford 8oz Dexter Burger

Review of The Lazy Cow 8oz Dexter Beer Fed Burger


What they say:

8oz Dexter Beer Fed Burger, steakhouse chips, swiss cheese, lazy cow relish (add bacon £1.00).

Price: £13.50.

Calories: Unknown.

Now Burger Lad® usually measures how excited he was about a burger by the length of time it takes from eating it to getting the review published. In this case we’re looking at approximately 48 hours.

We were very much looking forward to visiting The Lazy Cow in Stratford. Dexter cattle are known for producing excellent beef and on the menu was a Do Nut burger which sounded like something worth trying. I’d also got a £5 off food voucher and on the night we visited all burgers were (unexpectedly) 20% off. Had it not been for this we’d have probably visited their sister restaurant ‘The Shed’ which is billed as Stratford’s only burger bar with riverside seating. Maybe next time…

The Lazy Cow Group has three other restaurants in Salisbury, Solihull and Warwick so all feature in fairly affluent areas. Inside the Stratford one it has an upmarket, industrial style steakhouse feel to it but with a rustic charm that you would expect of Stratford. It is also delightfully placed by the river but unfortunately we were unable to dine outside on this occasion.

Sat in the “Oxblood” red leather booths I perused the menu under intimate lighting delivered by colander style light shades. We kicked off the event with a portion of Pulled Pork Nachos. These were good! The nachos themselves were very clearly homemade instead of someone just pouring a bag of Doritos on a plate. Impressive. The double P was tasty, slightly sweet and worked well with the jalapeños and fresh coriander.

Burger Lad
Pulled Pork on homemade Nachos...

Up next was the burger and this was presented to me in a metal Cub Scout tray - which we’ve seen before at Boston Tea Party. As you can see from the pictures it was “OK” in terms of presentation. The big, fatty piece of bacon poking its tongue out at me put me off a bit (I actually ripped that protruding piece off). The top bun, or crown as we call it in the business was skewwhiff from the rest of the ingredients despite the customary skewer.

Burger Lad
What's on the tray for £14.50...

I removed the fresh tomato (I’ll never be a fan) from the lightly toasted, buttery brioche bun and took my first bite. God it was messy (not always a bad thing, see The Bird)! There seemed to be loads of that lazy cow relish which was a mayo-based sauce. Despite in my mind thinking “I don’t like it”, with every bite I took it surprised me each time as it was tasty. I don’t know why but to me a relish means a pickled/chopped vegetable or fruit but I wouldn’t describe the Lazy Cow relish this way. It was a strange one that I can’t quite describe, possibly bordering close to an upmarket, gourmet Big Mac sauce.

Burger Lad
The Lazy Cow 8oz Dexter Beef Burger...

There was plenty of fresh, green lettuce on-board but I was a bit disappointed to see some of the “stem” on the end of one of the leaves – personally I would have taken it off but it was no major deal. The red onion rings were a welcome addition as ever. Fresh, sharp and providing an offset to the main event we all want to know about. The BEEF!!

Outstanding! I really loved the deep, rich flavour impact of the 8oz Dexter burger. The patty had been cooked to perfection with just a hint of pink (you are asked how you want your burger done). It had a fresh, meaty and buttery flavour to it and fused nicely with the thick, nicely melted gooey Swiss.

Overall it was a bit of an unexplainable experience. Yes the beef was good but I did think the execution of this build was slightly off and I did feel a bit disappointed. Due to the excess sauce the brioche bun perished a little and thus descended into a bit of a mess to be honest. I didn’t finish the chips as I’m not a massive fan unless they are fries (“well yes BL but you are in a Steakhouse”). I put in my original notes that the burger left me with a numb feeling but I think this is a bit harsh. On reflection it was an enjoyable burger but I think for close to fifteen quid I just expected something a bit more which was not there. And that bacon was very fatty…

Miss Milkshake went with the Do Nut Burger which to me did not look half as good as the Red’s True Barbecue one. Watching her eat it however, I did feel like Harry Burns sat opposite Sally Albright!

Burger Lad
The Lazy Cow Do Nut Burger...

So would I recommend The Lazy Cow!? Yes… yes I would. I’d probably not have the 8oz Dexter Burger again but I am definitely up for checking out The Shed and am tempted by the Vegetarian(!!) Mexican Chilli Bean Burger. Watch this space as I have a feeling we’ll be back in Stratford in the very near future…

Oh and if you are reading this GraceHQsky… this is not a job or a hobby… it’s a way of life! With that let’s take one last look at the Lazy Cow 8oz Dexter Burger.

Burger Lad
Bit of a mess, pretty tasty...

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter:

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Red’s True Barbecue The Donut Burger

Review of Red’s True Barbecue The Donut Burger


What they say:

Two house-made 100% steak burgers flame grilled over hickory, melted double cheese, smoked peppered bacon dirty sauce and deep fried crispy onions, all between two sweet glazed donuts. Served with hush puppies and skin-on fries. It shouldn’t work, but sweet Red above. It’s incredible. #DONUTBURGER

Price: £12.95.

Calories: 2,700-ish?

I woke up on Saturday morning to find this latest review from our Principal Burger Critic in my inbox. Now I don’t get jealous easily, but my eyes were as green with envy as the finest local produce that Red collected on the first day of Creation…

We know all about “Low and Slow” – after all we’ve got our very own cut of pork shoulder, seasoned in our signature spice mix, cooking away in the slow cooker as I write this introduction, but these guys are P-R-O-F-E-S-S-I-O-N-A-L-S people.

With great privilege, Burger Lad® is honoured to present Red’s True Barbecue - The Donut Burger…

It's summer and it's cold and wet, so I must be in either Manchester or Glasgow. Today it's Manchester and I'm visiting Red's True Barbeque (recently opened, with its original branch in Leeds).

Reds is seemingly an American-style barbeque joint. The website makes that clear and from the minute I sit down and listen to the good ol' boys music playing, it's definitely going for a Hazzard County kind of tone.

Burger Lad
Inside Red's Manchester...

I sit down and order a drink. I put my pad on the table to begin writing, and there it stays. I think I've found the world's stickiest table.

I'm being brave / stupid today and I'm here for one thing only and that's the Donut Burger (yep you read it right the first time - as they say in the menu).

A cursory read of the internet beforehand suggest this thing clocks in at some 2,700 calories, which is more than my daily allowance!!!

It's served with spicy Hush Puppies, whatever they are (I'm assuming not the icy drink) and skin-on fries. I'm not sure if these are included in the 2,700 calories or added to it. Either way, I'm 110% sure I won't be having dessert…

Anyway, the donut burger is a double cheeseburger with melted cheese, bacon and wonderfully named "dirty sauce" inside not one but two glazed doughnuts.

Burger Lad
Red's True BBQ Donut Burger...

The kitchen, or the barbeque pit I suppose, is open. The smells doing from there are bloody fantastic. I'm here for a burger today but I'm definitely going to have to come back for ribs someday.

The decor is a bit Crystal Maze Industrial Zone and I half expect Richard O'Brien to pop up and shout "start the fans please!"

As I put my order in I ask the very helpful young waiter what hush puppies are, and apparently they are sweetcorn, jalapeños and dough all fried up. Interesting.

While waiting, I realise this would be a fantastic (and probably busy) place to spend an evening without car keys. Extensive and interesting drinks menu and a juke-box you can control by downloading an app to your iPhone.

Burger Lad
A tray of Paradise...

I tried the fries first and wasn't blown away. They were nice but not outstanding. The hush puppies were doughy right enough, with that great jalapeño kick, but definitely could have done with something to dip into - there was a range of sauces on my table.

The burger itself looks small. Compacted calories I guess. Lovely and dripping cheese. I'm not sure how I'm going to eat it because the donut is so sticky, and it's quite tall. I think it will be a case of knife and fork. A wet towel is provided for wiping up at any rate.

Burger Lad
Lifting the lid of The Donut Burger...

My first bite told me enough. Sweet doughnut cheeseburger. Tastes exactly as you'd imagine.

What stood out most actually was the meat - it was fantastic. It had the dirty sauce all over it and made me absolutely convinced I'll be having the ribs here before too long.

The sweetness of the doughnuts came through with every bite and it was fascinating. I kept coming back to the meat though. It tasted amazing and that barbeque sauce - wow!

Burger Lad
"Amazing sauce..."

In fact, the table next to me had what I assume was Red's Pit Burger and a part of me wished I had that instead of, let's face it, the gimmick.

The gimmick though, was incredibly moreish and actually not that difficult to finish.

I think you already know the answer to the question - would I have it again? But would I recommend Red's? Yes absolutely. As a place of great meat, certainly.

Burger Lad
Praise The Donut Burger...

So there you have it. Red's Donut Burger. Quite unique. Definitely interesting. Actually tasty. Red's BBQ as a whole - great place.

Thanks Admiral Burgerbar for your analysis of The Donut Burger – we’re heading up the M6 right… about… NOW...

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

McDonald’s BBQ Chicken Legend Deluxe

Review of McDonald’s BBQ Chicken Legend Deluxe


What they say:

Succulent chicken breast fillet in a golden crispy coating with smoky cheese, streaky bacon and Batavia lettuce topped with a smoky BBQ sauce and cool mayo, all in a warm, toasted bakehouse roll.

Price: £3.89 for the burger only, £5.49 as part of a medium meal (subject to variation).

Calories: 605 kcal.

McDonald’s releases the BBQ Chicken Legend Deluxe and Bacon Swiss Melt and Burger Lad® is back through the drive-thru to bring you a look at the new “Legend” on the menu - for a limited time only…

Burger Lad
McDonald's promotional picture...

I can’t complain too much about these “safe” promotional items despite not getting a World Cup burger (like the rest of the world) because after all we did get the treat of the My Burger promotion. Oh and did I mention that I was a McDonald’s My Burger 2014 finalist…? Of course, you can read all about THAT day here.

OK… so we headed to Maccy D’s today in search of the McRib but in our hearts we truly knew it wasn’t going to be there (mainly due to an anonymous tipster saying it definitely wasn’t). You may be asking why I keep harping on about the McRib but I’ll summarise for you briefly:

  1. McDonald’s tested the McRib in Sheffield and you should read about that!
  2. The girl at the drive-thru said it was going to be available today (wrong). 
  3. We get comments on the website such as “Our store will be fitted with a new grill in the near future especially for the McRib”. 
  4. Today I asked about its availability and I can confirm it is programmed on their tills. 

Anyway… we’re not here to talk about that BBQ Pork product (you can see my analysis of the German version here). We’re here to welcome the mouthful of a name - BBQ Chicken Legend Deluxe. Yeah I struggled when placing my order but it was worth it as this turned into quite a pleasant mouthful.

Burger Lad
We like LTO packaging...

So after a brief wait I was presented with my bag of food (I went for a meal today) and found a spot in a local car park to film our latest episode of Burger Lad® TV which you can see below. Firstly, I was ultra-impressed with the presentation going on with the BBQ Legend. Whoever had put this “build” together should be proud of themselves as this was quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen (except The Burger Lad which had been made to look like a promotional version). But seriously this was pretty damn impressive! The Bacon poked out the bun and looked good. The cheese had obviously just been added (no standing around for this order!) and there was a massive amount of lettuce on-board too! I even liked the artistic swirl of mayo on the right-side of the tasty looking bakehouse roll.

Burger Lad
Straight from the box...

So how did the BBQ Legend taste?

I’d say the bun was just under the “target” level of toasting but that really did not detract from the enjoyment experienced with this Chicken Legend. This bakery-style bakehouse roll is a welcome addition to the arsenal of buns available to the big M. My first bite did give me a bit of a smoky satisfaction – the combination of the bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce worked well together.

Burger Lad
Loads of lettuce...

With each bite you get a definite crispiness from the lettuce which like I mentioned there was loads of. I think it’s that plus the golden crispy coating that gave this burger that crunch impact. The bacon was good, minimal fat and cooked just right. I loved the cheese today as this had been made to order so had just been placed on the Legend breast fillet.

Burger Lad
The BBQ Chicken Legend Deluxe...

The chicken was good quality – white, firm, breast meat and at a relatively low cost offers good value for money. At a total of 605 calories I do not believe I will be participating again but if you’re after a quick chicken fix at McD’s I’d say this is worth a punt. The BBQ sauce complimented the rest of the ingredients nicely to reinforce that “smoky” taste throughout and the mayo really was inoffensive and there was the ideal amount as well (some other companies slather the stuff on).

Overall a pretty respectable burger but I’m going to definitely label it as a “safe” option from my good friends at McDonald’s HQ. What I (and probably countless thousands of others) would like is just something with a bit of a kick to it. Common Ronald we know you’ve got jalapeños in that pantry!! And what about that Chipotle Mayo…!? I think I can speak for a lot of people when we would love to see something just a bit more adventurous with a promotional item. But at the end of the day we appreciate its business and whatever sells is more likely to feature on the menu. We’ll keep dreaming though! 

Burger Lad
Lifting the lid...

So the BBQ Chicken Legend Deluxe – it’s an enjoyable burger, fresh, cheap, and if you get one looking like mine, pretty decently presented. The BBQ sauce works well with the other ingredients to give it a smoky tone and there’s a nice bit of crunch from the crispy chicken coating and Batavia lettuce.

If you’re passing McDonald’s and fancy a bit of chicken you can’t go wrong with this to be honest. The cheese does have a faint but just recognisable “smoke” to it but it’s not the most obvious of tastes. End of school report. Good but could do better. We’ll be back at McDonald’s when these promotional items end – and if anyone wants to tell us what’s coming next, you know where to find me. I’m pretty good at keeping secrets…

Burger Lad
A respectable build...

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter:

Monday, 14 July 2014

Coast to Coast Lux Burger

Review of Coast to Coast Lux Burger


What they say:

Our 6oz* burgers are freshly pressed, Aberdeen Angus beef. All served on a sesame seeded brioche bun with fries and a spicy ketchup dip. Our prime burger stacked with rocket, Emmental cheese, garlic mayo, two rashers of streaky bacon, red onion, sun blush tomatoes and dill pickle.

Price: £12.95.

Calories: Unknown.

I’d always threatened to, but never got around to checking out the burgers at Coast to Coast, American Restaurant & Bar. However, Admiral Burgerbar beat me to it so without further delay, Burger Lad® presents the C2C Lux Burger...

Coast to Coast is part of The Restaurant Group, which includes Frankie & Benny’s, Garfunkel’s and Chiquito. As such, there are similarities - immaculate decor, a warm welcome, extensive menus, clean and tidy, decent food and quite high prices.

The host and the waitress were both very welcoming, the former pointing out the new things on the menu. Apparently it has recently had an update, just like its sister establishment, F&B.

The feel of the place is upmarket American diner and they seem to be spread out across the whole country (although the restaurants in Stirling, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh are called "Filling Station".)

Burger Lad
Inside Coast to Coast...

As with other Restaurant Group places, there is a shiny, well-stocked and welcoming bar, at odds with the retail park (i.e. car) location.

There's quite a choice of burgers on the menu, but I decide to go for the Emmental-based Lux Burger. I'm looking forward to see how the different cheese complements the stack.

It also includes rocket, red onion and garlic mayo, which I find to be top-tier burger ingredients. Two tomatoes and pickles are also present, but those aren't among my favourites.

As I wait, the host explained to me that they have changed the buns and now use toasted brioche - again a top-tier inclusion.

I chose sweet potato fries to go with it, and was told "good choice" by the waitress. Hopefully she is right.

Burger Lad
Coast to Coast Lux Burger...

When the burger arrives, I note that the presentation is immaculate. Fries in a little bucket too. And there's a great smell. All the ingredients are on show - bacon crossed across the burger, rocket poking out the bottom, the Emmental clinging lovingly to the beef and even the small tomatoes look nice. I think I'll leave them in.

The sweet potato fries are rather good. Nicely seasoned, with that distinct taste that sets them apart from potato fries.

In the first couple of bites of the burger, it's the bacon that comes through strongest by quite a long way. The garlic mayo makes a shout too. The rocket and the cheese don't stand out above the bacon, which is a shame. Further in, I do get the rocket, and the red onion kicks in as well.

Burger Lad
The trademark "Admiral" shot...

As it turns out, this is a burger that improves as we get further in. Emmental is a lovely nutty cheese, so I wish in a way it had stood out a bit more.

The bun is doing a great job of holding all this in, and the mayo and cheese keep it moist so there's no dryness in the bite.

Overall this is a decent burger. It doesn't stand out enough to make me have it again, but I like the place so I'm sure I'll have one of the others next time.

I'd definitely recommend Coast to Coast - it's not cheap, but the ambience does exude quality.

Burger Lad
Ambience exudes quality...

Thanks again to the Admiral for checking out the Lux Burger from Coast to Coast. We’ll be back again soon for more reviews on your favourite burger website.

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter:

Thursday, 10 July 2014

KFC Zinger Burger

Review of KFC Zinger® Burger


What they say:

What does the Zinger Burger taste like? Picture a disco mirrorball hanging from the roof of your mouth and instead of light, it's taste bouncing around your mouth like a tingle wave. And that's what the Zinger Burger tastes like.

Price: £3.49 for the burger only (at Motorway Service Station).

Calories: 455 kcals.

Admiral Burgerbar is back with a look at the KFC Zinger Burger…

This was going to be a review of Burger King's Summer BBQ Whopper but for reasons I shall explain presently, turned into the most frustrating fast food experience I've had in years, and ultimately ended up as a review of the Zinger burger from KFC (which was definitely a silver lining!)

Motorway service station at lunchtime. One of my worst nightmares, but unfortunately a necessity sometimes. At least we got a seat. This particular one had a BK, a Starbucks, Papa John’s Pizza and a KFC.

I sat down and immediately intended to have the aforementioned summer Whopper, because Burger Lad® had mentioned it once or twice or seven times, and The Admiral is good like that.

So I walked over to the BK counter where one member of staff was busy with a couple of people, and another was bustling around in the back. Firstly, I felt two seemed too few for lunchtime but then realised the more pertinent problem was the current customers. The conversation went on for ages and ages and it became apparent they were ordering for seemingly a coach-full of Chinese tourists with all manner of queries and alterations (including one "do you have a microwave so I can heat up this plastic container of noodles I seem to have brought with me?").

Before my eyes, the till went slowly up over £100 and eventually settled at around £130. All of this took a long time- did I mention that?

Eventually it was my turn. "A summer barbeque Whopper please". I'm sorry, we are sold out of whoppers. Obviously there was a direct connection between the massive order and my whopper-less predicament.

I mumbled and shuffled off to KFC, only to be confronted by a massive queue formed of what appeared to be a giggling school group. You see, motorway services at lunchtime = nightmare.

Fortunately, salvation was there in the form of KFC's self-order machine. Giggling schoolgirls don't have credit cards, so I was able to bypass the queue and the excruciating conversations about the latest Gordon Bieber song and the like.

Swiftly, I had a Zinger with cheese in my hand and was unpacking it.

Burger Lad
Zinger Burger wrapper...

So, three weeks after first arriving at the service station, I took my first bite. I like the buns KFC uses - soft and squidgy, and just big enough to fit the proprietary chicken, which poked its enticing crunchy coating out the ends.

I really like the stuff KFC coats their chicken with so I knew I was going to enjoy it. And they don't really hold back too much on the spice in the Zinger and their hot wings. So much so, that the chicken I could see inside had hints of colour, presumably from the spices soaking in. The cheese I added for 15p melted nicely into the mayo and other toppings to give a nice background to this burger, but it was most certainly the spicy chicken that led the way.

Burger Lad
The KFC Zinger Burger...

It held together well. There was enough bun left until the end to help me hold and eat the final bites. The nice spicy taste lingered well beyond the final bite.

I love the taste. The crunchy texture is very generous, the chicken is lovely, and the spice makes it rather moreish. It didn't last very long.

Burger Lad
Lifting the lid of the Zinger...

I've had this before and I'd have it again. The Zinger can be "towered up" with a hash brown for 50p. Obviously this adds more calories, but if you're in the mood, it also adds a very pleasant complementary sensation.

The Zinger burger then - a fast food gem and right up there among the best of the big brand staples.

Burger Lad
Chicken, cheese, lettuce & mayo...

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter:

Monday, 7 July 2014

Burger King Secret Menu Item The Bling King

Review of Burger King Secret Menu Item The Bling King


What they say:

Not applicable.

Price: £10.72.

Calories: Chicken Tendercrisp: 689 kcal, Double Rodeo 360 kcal, Breakfast in Bread 579 kcal & Hash Browns 192 kcal. Total 1,820 kcal minus 1.5 buns.

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!! After all… as the wise Jedi Master Yoda once said, “Do or do not… there is no try…”

Admiral Burgerbar likes a secret menu item… it’s no “secret”… so imagine my little face when this popped up in my inbox on Monday morning. Now we know we have a copycat or two out there so if you feel the need to copy and paste this onto your site then at least give us a reach around when you do it…

We weren’t sure what to name this complete mountain of greed. The Beast King? The Have it ALL your way? Maybe the Proud Whopper? Not sure on any of those to be honest so it was Burger Lad® that came up with The Bling King. Literally 30 seconds ago this was going to be called The Have it ALL your way but I like The Bling King (with onion ring). After all BK themselves have changed their slogan to “Be Your Way…” so surely we couldn't use that? Be your way indeed…

Well, it's probably time for a secret menu item again. I had a look on the internet to see what things people had come up with. Didn't find anything that grabbed my interest, so it was thinking cap time. What could I come up with by myself?

Perhaps something that gives me my five-a-day. A sort of Land, Sea and Air Plus, or Platinum. Or Platinum Plus even. Fish, Chicken, Beef, Bacon and Sausage.

So I had a look at the BK menu and started building my own burger. If Burger Lad® can do it with great success at McDonald's, then how hard can it be?

The Breakfast in Bread gives me the sausage and bacon, the Rodeo gives me beef as well as onion rings and BBQ flavour. The Ocean Catch gives me fish and tartar sauce, Chicken Tendercrisp with cheese gives me, well, chicken and cheese.

And I'll add hash browns to the mix, just because I can.

Burger Lad
Seriously, do you want to make these a meal...?

I pull up to a Burger King, trying to time it correctly. I am aiming for half past ten, so there is a chance the breakfast item might still be made, as well as the 'lunch' burgers (BL note - you can order 'lunch' burgers before 10:30am... a "friend" told me...).

I think what I will probably do, depending on the height, is stick one of the spare bottom buns in the middle somewhere, just to give a bit of bounce to the otherwise heavy protein stack. I'm looking forward to my made-up burger.

So, I went up to the counter, which was quiet at this time of day, and started to put my order in. After each one I was asked if that was a meal, to which I replied… “No just the burger please”. It got annoying after a while, but I suppose the girl was just following the set sales procedure.

However, my stunning creation came crashing down around my ears when we got to the Ocean Catch. "I'm sorry we don't have that anymore". I protested "But I was just looking at it on the website this morning". The girl turned to the back and repeated that to a manager presumably, who replied "tell him we are sorry that it's still on the website". As the girl turned back to me I said "it's ok, I heard that".

So, no fish in my creation. As we will see shortly, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

Burger Lad
We recommend the above for 2 or more people...

I took the Tendercrisp, which was the biggest thing, as my frame, and lifted its lid. Opening the Breakfast one, I could see all the bacon and cheese was stuck to the top bun, so although it was more rounded, it had to go in as the middle bread. On top of that I added the contents of the Rodeo, then three hash browns on top. The hash browns were tasty, but I sort of wanted something like KFC does - a big round hash brown that's meant to fit the burger.

Burger Lad
Onion ring(s) for your Bling King...

With the stack built, I squashed the top of the Tendercrisp bun on the top, along with its white sauce. So far, so good.

My first bite only got the chicken. I'm discovering with these tall creations that contents sliding out is a substantial issue. The other things didn't fall out (yet) but kept moving to the back, so no matter which side I bit, I only got chicken. It was when I tried to tip it forward to get a bite of bacon, or beef, or sausage - anything instead of chicken - that things went downhill.

The bun frame was degrading with the sauce. The stuff inside was all hanging out like a teenager's dress-sense, and before long there was literally nothing dry to hold on to, and it just crumbled. I started out wanting to call this the Animal Farm, but perhaps the Total Mess would be better. There's clearly a reason why burger places don't sell this kind of thing.

Burger Lad
Some serious secret menu item action...

Anyway, armed with a forest of napkins, I finished it off by picking random bits up here and there. By this point, it really didn't feel much like a burger anymore, and I had to sort of accept that my creation was pretty poor.

This was not Burger King's fault by the way. The individual items were nice. The crispy chicken in the Tendercrisp was very nice, and I noted they do a sweet chilli one which I might try some day. The Rodeo was small, but the barbeque and onion rings flavour is very tasty. The breakfast in bread was interesting. I think this was the first time I had ever had had a proper breakfast item from one of the fast food places. The sausage, although reformed into a flat patty shape, was very, well sausage. In amongst the tower of competing flavours, the bacon did struggle to come through. I got it a couple of times, and it really depended what else my teeth managed to catch in the same bite before running away.

Burger Lad
The Bling King...

As for the Ocean Catch, I emailed BK UK HQ later and despite the standard automated reply saying they'd get back to me within three days, I got a reply in a couple of hours. Effectively it told me that, as BK restaurants are franchises, there are some menu items that are discretionary. The one I went to obviously decided not to make the Ocean Catch available, but it's unlikely to be removed from the website as the suggestion was that it is/may be available at other locations. Has anybody had a BK Ocean Catch recently?

Burger Lad
Be your way... sing the bling...

At any rate, whatever you want to call this - "Land and Air plus sausage and bacon but minus the Sea", "Animal Farm" or "Total Mess", it was a failure. Individually tasty items, and collectively tasty too, but I was far too pre-occupied with trying to hold it together to enjoy it properly. I won't be having this again.

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter:

Saturday, 5 July 2014

McDonald’s Big Mac

Review of McDonald’s Big Mac


What they say:

Two 100% beef patties with lettuce, onions, pickles, cheese and our unbeatable Big Mac sauce - all in a sesame seed bun.

Price: £2.69.

Calories: 490 kcals.

To celebrate one million page views and being a finalist of the McDonald’s My Burger promotion our very own Admiral Burgerbar decided to analyse the most iconic burger ever… the McDonald’s Big Mac… no pickles though… not sure about that! In fact after reading this review I had to rush out and get one hence the additional pictures! Although at the drive-thru they tried to give me a small coke and there were no serviettes. Do they not know who I am…!?

In honour of Burger Lad®’s recent achievement and in acknowledgement of the milestone that July will bring, this week sees a big burger that's famous. Very famous in fact. Quite possibly the most famous burger in the world.

Today's review is a Big one. After Wimpy, the first burger I ever had, and instantly recognisable.

It's the Big Mac.

Burger Lad
The iconic McDonald's Big Mac...

No promotional version, the only modification I made was asking for it without the pickle.

The very definition of fast food. From the minute I handed over my five pound note and "Mac no pickle" being shouted rearward like a well-rehearsed rugby pass, to my being presented with my cardboard, was a very short time indeed.

I chose a seat in a fairly empty restaurant and sat down with my tray. I knew I was going to enjoy this because I've had it many times over the years.

The most memorable of which was 1996 in Austria. I was rather less adventurous back then and didn't like the pickle or the Big Mac sauce, so I usually ordered it "cheese and lettuce only". This particular time I did just that auf Deutsch and was given effectively a three layer cheese and lettuce sandwich. No beef. The beef is the essence of the burger surely, and it's taken as read that it is included. You live and learn.

Burger Lad
Is that a My Burger promotion I can see...?

Anyway, back to the 21st Century and I have a steaming pile of McDonald’s fries in front of me. Over the years and across the world, I've rarely had bad McFries and today was no exception. McDonald's has had a very long time to perfect them and it shows. Crispy, hot, right thickness, salted, and damn tasty.

Liquid accompaniment is in the form of a Diet Coke which I had to fill myself. There is not a lot finer than a burger and a beer, so I do wonder if the high street burger places are missing a trick with licensing. I'm sure I've had beer in McDonald's elsewhere in the world, but I may be mistaken. At any rate, this particular McDonald's wasn't on a high street, it was on a retail park and required a car, so that musing was pretty moot as it happens.

Burger Lad
Dropping a topping = made from scratch...

On then to the headline act. The Big Mac is probably the single most identifiable image of fast food. This one had been made from scratch and the cheese hadn't yet melted (it did as I went along).

I didn't get any of the sauce in the first bite but I did in the second. Again, instantly recognisable. The cross-section of double-patties resonated on my taste buds as well as any twin-guitar riff from Maiden or Priest. McBloodyMarvellous. The bun in the middle adds a subtle yet welcome bounce to the bite. The patties are of course thin, compared to gourmet-style burgers, but they are nicely seasoned and very tasty.

Burger Lad
Here's one they made earlier and very respectable too...

In fact, the whole thing, including the fries, is very un-put-downable, just like the Harry Potter books on the Tube a decade ago, or that catalogue of shades of grey paint that people seem to read a lot these days.

Burger Lad
Lifting the lids on the worlds most famous burger...

So un-put-downable in fact, that I've yet to avoid guzzling a Big Mac meal as if it were my first food in years. Did I mention I've had a few of them over the last four decades?

The only way I managed to take a few breaths between bites this time was the fact that I'm writing this.

So, all done, the lovely cheesy beefy oniony taste lingering in my mouth and the knowledge that I'll most certainly be back, I bid my (temporary) farewell to the world's biggest burger.

Burger Lad
The money shot...

The Big Mac. I'm bloody lovin' it!

Thanks again Admiral for your analysis of this iconic burger!

Burger Lad
An absolute classic...

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter:

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

McDonald’s UK My Burger Finalist 2014

Burger Lad® is one of the McDonald’s UK My Burger 2014 finalists!!


What they say:

After showing your amazing creative skills to create a Burger on our online burger builder site, online votes have shown that you have created one of the most popular burgers. You have therefore been declared a potential McDonald’s My Burger Finalist!

Calories: TBD.

I can’t remember the first time I discovered the My Burger promotion. I do recall it being offered by McDonald’s Germany as “Mein Burger” and have also seen it in a few other European countries. I’d asked McDonald’s UK and their Communications Director a number of times if we’d ever get to build our own burgers in the UK. Their response was always “no plans at present.”

This changed on Monday 19th May when during the 2014 Great Tastes of America promotion, the Golden Arches “sneaked” out the My Burger campaign. I’d actually had a tip-off a day or two earlier, but in my wildest dreams didn’t believe my build-a-burger fantasy would become a reality.

So I instantly logged in, created (obviously) The Burger Lad and went about shamelessly promoting my creation via Twitter and sharing it with family, friends and colleagues. My Burger received a modest number of votes, it was great to see it in the “Popular” and “Trending” galleries as well.

Towards the end of the voting period I checked a few in the “Popular” gallery and saw some with over a thousand votes. “Oh well” I thought… just to have been able to see my burger design on the website was enough for me (and the fact we’d get FIVE new publicly created burgers in October/November). I never thought I would be a finalist… until Monday 23rd June…

It was just a normal Monday morning in the office. Burger Bev was googling “McDonald’s Spain” trying to decide which promotional burger to review the next time she flies out. I was hard at work and during a designated lunch break checked my Bmail. I could not believe my eyes as I read the text on the screen…

Subject to verification, McDonald’s would like to invite you, Burger, to come to the McDonald’s UK head office kitchen, London, and make your Burger Creation with the help of McDonald’s coaches on 29th June 2014. Along with the other Finalists, you will present your Burger Creation to a panel of judges who will then judge the five burgers which will make it onto McDonald’s UK menu.

I was literally bouncing around the office and letting off more “Wooo’s” than Ric Flair in Greensboro, North Carolina. To say I was unbearable for the rest of the day is an understatement! Burger Lass® and I celebrated with a delectable French Dip at The Tavern and got excited by the thought of our all expenses paid trip to London this upcoming weekend. After getting the confirmation on Tuesday that we would definitely be going this was a million miles away from the events of the exact same Monday and Tuesday some twelve months earlier…

It literally felt like something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and I had scored a Golden Ticket (I knew for this mission I would be accompanied by our very own Veruca Salt) so, like Grandpa Joe I burst into song:

I never thought my life could be… anything but catastrophe
But suddenly I begin to see… a bit of good luck for me
Cause I've got a golden ticket
I've got a golden twinkle in my eye…
I never had a chance to shine never a happy song to sing,
But suddenly half the world is mine what an amazing thing
Cause I've got a golden ticket. I’ve got a golden ticket in my hand…

So for the next few days I was bursting to the point of explosion. I wanted to tweet it, I wanted to shout it out at the top of my voice. “I AM A MY BURGER FINALIST”. But I didn’t… I may have tweeted a cryptic tweet here and there though.

On Thursday we received the registration confirmation, itinerary and hotel details. We were gonna be staying at the luxury four-star Hotel Russell in Bloomsbury, Central London. OMG could this week get any better!? In the meantime I did a bit of research on who my “opponents” might be. A quick Twitter/Google search found one – some online community that had submitted multiple entries which were allegedly removed but one without their name in got undetected on the MMB radar. I also found someone complaining that they had “won” My Burger but it would not be made as it was Gluten Free. I think what they meant was that they’d got to the judging final on Sunday. They had won… N-O-T-H-I-N-G!!

At this point I’d like to add that all of the above was written BEFORE this weekend’s events and from this point now are after the events of Sunday 29th June 2014 - a date forever burnt into my memory. This is the tale of the boy from Upper Welland who went to McDonald’s UK Headquarters and met the Managing Director…

Burger Lad
Arriving at McDonald's UK Headquarters...

We arrived at McDonald’s HQ on Sunday morning. I should have felt nervous. After all, here I was about to make and present my very own McDonald’s burger creation to a panel of judges which included the MD, Phil Vickery MBE, a franchise owner and a number of select individuals. We waited in reception and every contestant for this session (the finalists had been split into two groups) had their names read out. “And lastly we have Burger Lad…” – yes I would be known as BL for the majority of the day.

I filmed a quick video/sound bite where I talked a bit about me and my burger and then we were introduced to our McCoaches (the chefs who would help us with our build) and three executive chefs who work closely with McDonald’s in the development of their products. It was the greatest honour to me to hear that the guy who was assisting me actually watches my YouTube videos and reads my reviews “this guy is my hero” – do days like these really get any better?

Burger Lad
Judging Day 29.06.14...

I was also introduced to loads of press, PR and marketing people who were absolutely amazing, really friendly and very, very complimentary about this website! To hear the number of people that either followed me, read the reviews regularly and/or see my weekly Twitter update summaries truly was an honour for me and I can’t thank them enough for making us both feel so welcome.

At this point I still did not feel nervous. Burger Lass® had basically taken one for the team and had absorbed all the nervousness I could have. I was so excited and in my element I just loved every single second. It was like one of those days you wish your eyes could record everything so that you can play it back over and over for the rest of your life.

So I was taken on a tour of a McDonald’s kitchen – at HQ they’ve pretty much got a mini restaurant setup with fully functioning kitchen as well. The menu boards were adorned with ‘My Burger’ promotional pictures, there were balloons in the MB colour scheme and cardboard advertising. I even gasped when I saw one of the oblong MB burger cartons in the kitchen. This was seriously getting good.

Burger Lad
Are you ready...?

We tested a variety of chipotle mayonnaises that would feature on my build and made a few tweaks here and there but the development chef looking after me said that my creation really didn’t need that much alteration. I was worried about mushrooms being featured on The Burger Lad as they are one of those ingredients that are very much either loved or hated. But on the day, a lot of chefs and photographers commented that they were pleased to see them on-board as I was the only one of the finalists to have them. So fingers crossed if you do like mushrooms…

It was an amazing day! Truly amazing! I got to see how the burgers are cooked and the buns toasted. But then the magic really started to happen. I watched on in amazement as right before my very own eyes The Burger Lad was constructed like it would be in any McDonald’s restaurant in the country. There sat in front of me was The Burger Lad!!! Dan (my McCoach) who was an absolute star and gentleman cut the burger into four so we could do the all-important taste test – don’t worry we made at least another six after that on top of the additional six for the judging! We were all really pleased with the taste combination and I received some very complimentary feedback.

Over the next hour we cooked up a few variations (mainly just re-ordering the layers) but the combinations and taste remained consistent. I rushed out a sample or two to Burger Lass® who took some amazing photos of what could possibly be the only Burger Lad burgers we’ll ever see. Fingers crossed it will make it to the final five that will go on-sale in October/November. Imagine it…

Burger Lad
Hopefully we'll get to see inside the box...

Another great experience was seeing the girl who does the build which is used for the promotional photographs. This was done meticulously with the deftness, precision and patience that I am sadly lacking. As I watched I don’t know how she didn’t turn around and ask me to look away for a while. Eventually mine was done and was put with the other five finalists in my group. They all looked BRILLIANT – truly brilliant and not one had been altered with Photoshop or anything. They had been constructed using the EXACT same ingredients that would be used at any time these would be being served.

I sat watching other finalists doing their pitch and again should have felt nervous. But I didn’t. I don’t know why… I suppose it was because I knew I was talking about something I was interested in and passionate about. Not some dull, lifeless statistics about the number of females applying to teach Chemistry or some jip like that…

It was my turn. Burger Lass® was feeling the pressure but I just felt relaxed and was enjoying the experience so much it just didn’t faze me. Like I said to many people on the day, to me I had already won just by being there and sampling this unique opportunity.

My pitch went really, really well. It was great to talk about my inspiration for the burger, why I had chosen the ingredients etc. But like Burger Lass® commented “it actually turned from being a pitch about my burger to a job interview.” I didn’t see how “if you were in charge of McDonald’s for one day what would you do?” was related to The Burger Lad at all. But considering the MD asked me this it was an absolute honour and privilege to give my response. I just hope I didn’t sound too much like Chunk with his hand in a blender. I was impressed with myself how I coped with the questions but also displaying some fairly decent product knowledge of various burgers around the globe.

Burger Lad
I did the pitch without the glasses...

I’d watched the judges tasting The Burger Lad trying to gleam some sort of response from them. Oh I forgot to add that prior to this I’d participated in a blind-folded taste test and having scored 6 out of 10 was later declared the winner for my group of finalists. Scoring a bottle of Moët & Chandon in the process! Could this day get any better!?

Well as the day came to a close we were starting to gather our things (I’d also taken off the My Burger cap and apron which now proudly hangs in the kitchen at Burger Lad® HQ). “I have to meet this guy” and with that I turned and there was Mark Hawthorne, Managing Director of McDonald’s UK!!! We chatted about various things to do with McDonald’s plans, my website, Coke Freestyle (Burger Lass® had already spoken in length with Mark about this) and other products offered around the World. I won’t divulge in detail what we spoke about but it was very interesting and again an absolute honour and privilege.

And of the six finalists (in my group) it was only your very own Burger Lad® that got his photo taken (in front of the McDonald’s kitchen) with the MD. There had been video cameras and photographers around the whole day but this to me was a very special moment.

Burger Lad
BL and the MD...

With that we said our goodbyes to the lovely people who had made this day such a unique and fantastic occasion and set-off to Paddington to get the train back to Cheltenham. I celebrated late into the night and finally felt like I could tweet about the occasion and experience. I’d kept my proverbial mouth shut until I got back to HQ!

So now we have to wait and see if The Burger Lad will go on-sale in October and November. I hope so! But like I said earlier just being able to experience the weekend (especially Sunday) and seeing and tasting my burger creation meant I truly felt like a winner any way. If it does get made it will just be an added bonus! Fingers crossed…

If you could bottle (and sell) the euphoria I have experienced over the last 72 hours I would be a very, VERY rich man. That feeling is not going to go away any time soon, if ever…

Burger Lad
Truly amazing experience...

So I hope you enjoyed this once in a lifetime tale and I can’t thank everyone at McDonald’s enough for making this a truly spectacular weekend. THANK YOU!!

Burger Lad®

McDonald’s My Burger 2014 Finalist

We are the people's burger website™


For more burger related news and comments follow me on Twitter: