January 1, 2016

Wendy's Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger isn't about the Gouda

Why is this Gouda?
It's not clear what's garlic aioli and what's Swiss Gruyere cheese sauce.

In a sentence, that's the essence of Wendy's Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger. There are several problems turning this essence into a brutal truth: two different sauces are indistinguishable, there's no mention of the title's Gouda cheese, Wendy's feels the need to redundantly label Gruyere as cheese.

Fortunately for Wendy's there's a caveat turning all of those complaints into nits: The burger still manages to be pretty good.

It's not good in the way Wendy's intended it to be, however. This burger isn't the high-class foreign-cheese fast-casual snootfest the chain would have you believe. It's not a competitor in the same league as burgers from Five Guys or Shake Shack. Instead, it's a sloppy caloric explosion proving the sum can be worth much more than the total of the parts.

Even if we leave the nearly identical aioli and Gruyere sauces out of it, this burger's Gouda turns out to be purely titular. It's laced with a hint of Gouda-ness, and there's no doubt Wendy's is paying much more for the ingredient. Yet its flavor gets buried under the burger's overpowering salt, and it quickly falls into a glistening, congealed slice all-to-reminiscent of fast food cheeses past. 

Moving up, Wendy's bacon is Wendy's bacon. So there's not much to say there other than that it's bacon and it's pretty darned good. We've also got some onions, a disappointingly bland tomato and a fresh spring mix. It's unclear why the fresh spring mix is there — no one seemed to be clamoring for more salad on a burger — but it's largely unoffensive.

Now we come to the bun, a "Brioche Bun" according to Wendy's assertions. Unfortunately for the red-headed restaurant, this bun does nothing for the burger but add blandness. It's too big, too hard and too stale. It remains a complete mystery as to why every fast food chain this side of the Atlantic has engaged in a self-defeating bun war. While classic burger buns were generally tasteless, at least they proved to be unobtrusive as they dissolved quickly in beef fat. Across the board, these new buns force you to sit there and gnaw through cardboard to get to the good stuff inside.

Despite the flaws, I would go back for another Gouda burger. It's not clear why, but this thing is a sloppy mess that turns out to be pretty rewarding. Four sporks out of five. 

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