So, yesterday "Hamburger Matty" and I took the bait and visited the McDonald's at 46th Street and Broadway in Times Square at the invitation of some McD's PR folks. We were there to try the chain's new Angus Third Pounder burgers—the Angus Deluxe, Angus Mushroom and Swiss, and Angus Bacon and Cheese. Did we drink the Kool-Aid?
Let's just say the Angus burgers were the best burgers on the menu. The patties were thicker, exhibited some nice exterior searing, had some noticeable juiciness, and were augmented with some nice-looking, good-tasting, fresh and crisp toppings. The Deluxe actually tasted like a hamburger and not a dry facsimile of one. That said, they have McDonald's DNA through and through, and somehow manage to retain that signature taste that almost everyone is familiar with—there's just more of it. Sort of like a bigger, better cooked Quarter Pounder; if you can't get behind the taste of the chain's standard fare, the Angus isn't likely to get you in the door. And it's not until you isolate the meat from the toppings that you'll notice a difference in flavor and texture. The Angus patty was slightly more tangy—and I mean slightly. It's a minor upgrade in beefiness that I'm afraid was lost beneath all the toppings. The texture was more pleasing than that of Quarter Pounder—looser and not as tough.
Above: Placed in a lineup for visual reference as to size are McDonald's regular cheeseburger, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a Big Mac, an Angus Deluxe. Below: I thought that cross-section comparisons might be helpful, along with nutritional info and cost (prices are for New York City area McD's and may vary according to market and individual store).
Cost: $1 burger only, $4.99 value meal (with 2 burgers).
Cost: $3.19 burger only, $5.49 value meal.
Cost: $3.19 burger only, $5.49 value meal.
Cost: $3.99 burger only, $6.49 value meal.
Because Matty and I suspected we were receiving some primo examples, I stopped off at the McDonald's at 42nd and Seventh Avenue to pick up an Angus Deluxe there, standing in line like any other Joe Q. Burger. The specimen there was consistent with the one I tried just shortly before. And, later that night, I picked up random samples of the mushroom and bacon varieties to examine those, too. They also were consistent with those Matty and I tried at lunch.
I'd say that despite the Angus pedigree, the beef itself isn't what makes these burgers. Instead, the toppings steal the show. They're cut thicker to match the size of the burger and are all the better for it.
The thicker, crinkle-cut pickles on the Deluxe and the Bacon and Cheese stand up to the heat of the burger, retaining their crispness instead of wilting like the standard slivers that many people—myself included—end up removing.
Red onions have made an appearance on the Deluxe and the Bacon and Cheese. Here they're thick rings instead of the tiny diced niblets of the regular burgers or the half-moons of the Quarter Pounder. The store's owner and the PR people made a big deal out of the fact that it's the first time red onions have been used on a McD's burger, but I suspect that this has more to do with the fact that reds are the mildest type and are probably more subtle when cut thick.
Hefty tomato slices are standard on the Deluxe, and you can ask for them on the Bacon and Cheese, which doesn't automatically include them. You could probably ask for them on the Mushroom and Swiss, too, but I'd argue they don't belong there. Whole leaf lettuce on the Deluxe replaces the shredded mess found on the Big Mac.
On the mushroom burger, the fungi are sautéed—again something they all made a fuss about—but the sandwich itself didn't do much for Matty or me. Nor did the Bacon and Cheese. Generally bacon works magic on anything it touches, but this is standard McDonald's bacon; enough said.
The Angus burgers are priced at $3.99, burger only; $6.49 for the value meal (with medium fries and medium drink). They've been available in the Los Angeles test market since early December and will roll out in Columbus, Ohio, for testing later this year.
At Lunch Yesterday: McDonald’s Angus Burger Edition [Midtown Lunch]
McDonald's Angus Burger?? [Chowhound]
McDonald's Test Angus Burger [Fast Food News]
Angus Third Pounder [My Flickr photo stream]
McD Burger Test [Robyn Lee's Flickr photo stream]
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