Reality Check

Reviews of fast food burgers and a look at how the real life version compares to the advertised beauty shot.

Reality Check: McDonald's NYCrispy (Spain)

Kenji usually brings his inimitable and comprehensive Burger Lab posts to AHT, but today he presents our first international Reality Check. Thanks for taking the risk during your vacation, Kenji! —The Mgmt.

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[Image: mcdonalds.es]

I consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have been able to taste McDonald's new NYCrispy burger. Not just because I'm always thrilled to stay abreast of the latest releases from the world's largest fast food company*, but because it's only available in Spain.

And although my wife and I had just come from a massive lunch of perfect, crisp, tender roast cochinillo (suckling pig) and were on our way to sample several grades of jamón Iberico (move over Parma—this is the greatest ham in the world), I considered it my scholarly and professional duty to do some field reporting for AHT. I'd have to be able to squeeze in at least a couple of bites of a burger named after my home town.

According to their advertising, the burger is meant to be a physical manifestation of the New York attitude. Cosmopolitan culture, cutting-edge music, funky art, and an uber-cool attitude come standard with this patty. Apparently someone at Spanish marketing didn't get the memo that the new New York attitude is cool and ironic, and that a dude who looks like John Leguizamo in the Super Mario Bros. Movie scowling as he bites into a burger might not be the most "New York" of all images to push their product with:

So what is the Spanish take on the flavors of New York? A standard-issue McDonald's Big N' Tasty-size patty, a slice of cheese specked with some unidentified herb (Dill? Parsley? I couldn't tell), a mealy tomato slice, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, bacon, and a Parmesan bun.

I'm not quite sure where the "NY" actually comes in, but the "crispy" part of the NYCrispy comes in the form in tiny battered-and-fried onion bits, which seem to be a popular topping on cheffy burgers these days, though this is the first time I've experienced them in a fast food setting.

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I was pleasantly surprised by how well this burger was put together. In my experience US fast food chains in other countries tend to put a little more care into their product—I had a similar experience at a Colombian McDonald's a couple years back.

But if burger tasting has taught me anything, it's that appearances can be deceiving. As expected, the actual burger fell far short of any respectable culinary standards. By fast food standards, on the other hand, it was quite successful.

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The key lay in the crisp onion bits, which on their own were good—delicious, even. My advice if you order this: ask for no toppings besides mayo and extra crisp onion bits. It might even produce a sandwich that is—dare I say—tasty?

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In fact, I might even go so far as to say that if McDonald's gets its act together, and brings these crisp onion bits to the real New York City, I'd consider heading to the golden arches for something other than their french fries once in a while. Maybe.

Until then, if you're lucky enough to get to Spain, don't waste the stomach space—you're going to need it for the boquerones.

* Remind me again—does sarcasm come through online?

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