October 29, 2009

Cheesy Bacon BK WRAPPER at Burger King

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say.

If that's true, I've largely been ignoring that most important meal. Before today I've only written about breakfast in this critique three other times -- not nearly enough for you bacon-and-egg-craving goblins who like to rise early.

So never mind that I'm posting this past 9 p.m. Breakfast writing makes good food for the eyes whether it's dark because it's early or dark because it's late. Plus, eggs always make a good midnight snack.

Eggs also make a good wrap. Burger King stuffed some eggs, hash brown nuggets, bacon and "smoky cheese sauce" into a tortilla to make a concoction it calls the "Cheesy Bacon BK WRAPPER."

Note the all-caps on "WRAPPER." They're a bit misplaced.

You see, the eggs and hash browns carry the flavor more than the tortilla. (And more than the bacon, for that matter.) Calling this the "EGG and HASH BROWN BK Wrapper" would be more accurate.

That's not to say it isn't tasty. Fried potatoes and eggs make a wonderful marriage in most applications, and this one is no different. The taters give just enough break in texture to keep the egg from being tedious.

The single strip of bacon in the middle of the wrap isn't lost, either. Far from overpowering, it still adds some much-needed meat.

Unfortunately I don't know where the "cheese" in the name comes from. BK's description of "smoky" is a little more accurate, but that's not a powerful flavor either. Two strikes on the cheese sauce.

It's a shame this wrap is labeled with such misnomers because they cost it a spork or two in the ratings. Sometimes you just can't get past a name, though.

You see, a name is the first thing you know about a fast food. You use it to pick your meal from the big board. You speak it when you order. Saying those words prime your mouth for certain flavors. It's kind of like it's the most important part of fast food.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day ... the name is the most important part of a food. At least in this case.

Three sporks out of five. Misled taste buds are not the best way to start the day.

October 22, 2009

Arby's Roast Beef Patty Melt for $5.01 ... kind of

I picked up a $5.01 Arby's Roast Beef Patty Melt meal Tuesday, and while the sandwich is tasty, I have to say the pricing isn't worth a red cent.

Hopefully you've seen Arby's "Worth Every Penny" marketing blitz, or that statement didn't make much sense to you. Basically the hot lunchmeat chain rolled out combos with five different sandwiches and decided to charge $5.01 for each one.

You can get a "Regular Roast Beef" sandwich, a Roast Beef Gyro, a Roast Beef Patty Melt, French Dip & Swiss or a Roast Chicken Ranch. Each comes with your standard drink and curly fries accompaniments. Each is curiously priced a penny over $5.01.

Except if you live in a state that charges tax on restaurants, it's going to cost more. In Pennsylvania it costs 30 cents more, which was a huge disappointment to me as I approached the counter with $5.01 in hand. My five dollar bill and shiny copper coin left me 30 Abe Lincolns short! Fortunately the cashier was patient enough to wait for me to sheepishly dig out my wallet and yank out a $10 bill.

Yes, it was foolish of me to not read the fine print in the advertisements about tax or remember that my $5 Subway Footlong actually costs $5.30. But wouldn't it be nice if the franchises worked out a pricing system that would make the meal cost $5.01 after tax? I'm no math whiz, but I think such pricing would be possible a day locked in the manager's office with a slide rule and the help of a few employees counting on their fingers and toes.

Fortunately eating the sandwich wasn't as upsetting as paying for it.

Even saddled with post-$10-bill coin-filled pockets and the blues of my checkout embarrassment, I enjoyed my meal. Roast beef, toasted sourdough bread, red onions, Thousand Island Dressing -- what's not to like? It is a good thing Arby's doesn't advertise "crispy toasted sourdough bread," though, because it was more on the chewy side. Still, chewiness is not a bad thing when it comes to sourdough, as long as your not expecting to hear a crunch when you bite in.

And those red onions complimented the meal. I've droned on before about how they put that extra "oomph" into fast food flavors, so I won't bore you now. Just know the onions do it again.

The Thousand Island Dressing was a nice touch, too. It wasn't overpowering yet offered the perfect compliment of creaminess and just a hint of spice -- the flavor glue keeping the tastes of the sandwich together. Unfortunately it wasn't a physical glue, and served lubricated surfaces where roast beef met sourdough. You need big hands to keep this sandwich together.

The sandwich is worth trying, even if it does require a little more chump change than expected. Pricing issues and a slight lack of originality keep it from pulling down a perfect score, but it nets a very good four sporks out of five.

It seems coincidence has left me reviewing a lot of foods that deserve four spork ratings lately. Penny for your thoughts on that.

October 13, 2009

Snickers Fudge

All you foodie followers must be hungry for a new critique.

It's been more than a month since the global financial crisis combined with a lack of new fast-food products to force your intrepid reviewer into a De facto vacation that left you cutting back on your favorite blog cold turkey. But fear, not, for your eyes no longer have to diet! All the days off left me recharged and ready to cook up some food critiquing goodness.

Let's start by satisfying the hunger with some Snickers. But not just any old Snickers -- Snickers Fudge.

This is the kind of thing that makes you stop and stare in the checkout line at the grocery store. You're waiting for the person in front of you to finish up at the self-scanner while you tap your foot with that half-sleepy half-annoyed feeling that only comes from watching someone try to feed a $10 bill in the credit card swiper. You're looking around at candy bar displays you've seen dozens of times.

Then you do a double take. The wrapper looks like a common Snickers Almond, but the words don't match. Did that just say Snickers Fudge?

By the time you confirm that it did indeed say Snickers Fudge the person in front of you has finished fighting with the self-checker and headed out, leaving the crazed mom behind you sighing in exasperation and running over the back of your feet with a cart instead of saying, "The machine is open, sir." So you have to grab a bar quickly and get out of the store with your prize.

... At least that's how I found out about Snickers Fudge earlier today.

Regardless, it's a tasty little treat. Just don't expect it to scream "Snickers" at you.

See, normal Snickers have peanuts wrapped in a familiar comfort blanket of caramel. This Snickers has no caramel. Instead it has a peanut butter nougat topped in peanuts that are doused in chocolate. The chocolate is similar to chocolate in truffles, only much lower in quality.

It's a very good taste -- think a Hershey chocolate bar surgically implanted with peanuts and then bred with a Reese's Fast Break, only siphon off a good bit of the peanut butter flavor. A complex flavor tree, yes, but one that's pleasing.

Pleasing enough, in fact, that I'm willing to give it a pass on the fact that its taste is more of a cheap chocolate thrill than an expensive fudge splurge. And on the fact that it is missing the signature Snickers flavor.

So we'll just fudge the score a little to come up with a score of four sporks out of five. And welcome back, everyone!