February 18, 2013

A wintertime threefer: McDonald's Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger, McFish Bites and Shamrock Shake

Quite the McBundle sits on our plate today, foodies. A road trip this weekend had me pulling into the golden arches with an empty stomach and driving out with an interesting haul in my bag.

Needless to say, it wasn't your boring old run-of-the-mill Happy Meal. I pick my food a la carte, and did I ever go a la carting! My order consisted of a Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger, Fish McBites and my favorite seasonal ice cream, a Shamrock Shake. Two of these foods are new to me, while the third needs some revisiting.

Yes, you read that right. Two of the foods are new to me. The fish and the beef.

I can hear you shouting at your computer screens now: How can this be true? How can this cheese-onion-beef contraption be new when the food critique tackled it just a few months ago? It received high marks for taste and low ones for name!

Please don't send nasty emails. At least, don't send them to me. McDonald's has two burgers that prominently feature onionage in their name. There's the Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger I'm reviewing today. And then there's the much pricier Cheddar, Bacon, Onion, or CBO, which I reviewed in November.

The Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger costs a buck. The CBO will leave you out of the better part of a $10 bill. So the moral of the nomenclature appears to be that acronyms are expensive.

Speaking of exes, today's lead-in is getting a bit expansive. Especially considering what I have planned -- I'm giving you a quick few paragraphs on each of the foods from my trip to the house that Ronald built. Let's cross to the critiquing now.

Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger
Nothing would please me more than to rave about this bargain-priced burger with a mouthful of a moniker and wave my applause in the face of the tasty but pricey and ill-named CBO. Unfortunately, the Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger is nowhere near as good to the mouth as its upmarket big brother.

For starters, the beef isn't up to snuff. The burger with the long name is basically a classic McDonald's hamburger with the ketchup, mustard and diced onions swapped out for a generous helping of grilled onions. Oh, the cheese gets a slight upgrade, too.

One upgrade that was missed is the moisture content. McDonald's drowns its classic burgers in condiments for a reason, and that reason is they're incredibly dry. Grilled onions don't fix this. In fact, their smoky flavor exacerbates the problem.

The saving grace is the price. Three sporks out of five. Just make sure you take some of that cash you saved and buy a drink.

Fish McBites
The little balls of fish known as Fish McBites provide an opportunity to continue my study of McDonald's naming techniques. The golden arches tags the "Mc" prefix onto sandwiches' meat, but when it comes to small chunks, the restaurant stitches it onto a shape descriptor.

Think about it. The McRib is a sandwich. Chicken McNuggets and Fish McBites are finger foods.

I'll be the first to admit that I didn't explain that particularly well. Perhaps some linguist somewhere can perform a study and publish an academic paper. In the mean time, I'll dock Fish McBites to two sporks out of five because I had trouble explaining my theory inspired by their name. Worse, they smelled far, far too fishy. And they looked like hush puppies without any of the soul-food goodness of hush puppies.

Shamrock Shake
I'm not backing down on giving this delicious green concoction poor ratings until it comes out of its ridiculously slippery plastic cup. McDonald's had the gall to serve me one with an absurd amount of whipped cream on top with an even more absurd cherry.

Bring back paper cups for milkshakes and get rid of that mess above the ice cream. McDonald's isn't a mid-century soda shop, and none of us want it to be. Zero sporks out of five.

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