mcdonald's mccafe at union square....WTF am I doing here?
Okay, I guess in theory this could fall under junk food junkie since it is McD's after all. But now they are trying to reinvigorate the brand, change their image, bring in more customers, appeal to a new demo, who knows. It's probably some combo of them all and other behind the scenes things to change the perception of fast food in this new age of fast casual restaurants.
Outside of some childhood memories I have about enjoying filet-o-fish (I know, weird for a kid) and their fries, I really wouldn't be venturing here. But since they are pushing the build your own burger concept without building up the price, I was intrigued enough to give it a shot. And if nothing else, I could get some fries.
Part of the McCafe goal is to make it more self-serve with kiosks that look like large iPhones. I wanted to order this way, but when I arrived each side of the above contraption had a gaggle of teens around it trying to figure out what and how to order with the help of McD's employee who looked rather exasperated with them. Well, that pretty much ruled out doing that for me. Kind of defeats the whole order/get quickly thing. Fortunately, you can still belly up to the counter and order which is what I did.
They have all the regular stuff and the meal deals on the menu above the counter, but I'm here to custom burger it. For this they have the "create your taste menu" from the picture. While I was momentarily tempted by the fried chicken I decided to stick with the standard burger with toppings of my choice. As you can see they have a number of things to choose from and the only one that is an upcharge is the bacon. Otherwise, you could get everything you see if you wanted to.
I got a beef burger on a buttered, toasted ciabatta roll with bacon (duh!), pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and went old-school with the Big Mac special sauce. You get a number and they bring it to your table. It didn't take too long to get either. It arrives in a metal basked with brown wax paper, kind of like a burger bar or something.
Well, they don't skimp on the bacon. You get enough to taste it in every bite. The lettuce and tomato looked and tasted fresh. The bun was still hot and nicely buttered. As for the tangy sauce, at least they are consistent, it tastes the same as it always has. Overall the look and some of the peripherals were not bad. The break down for me was the meat. No matter how many toppings you put on it, it just has that unique flavor where you know you are eating a formerly frozen, fast food burger. It's hard to describe the flavor I'm talking about, but it is just something you know. When you bite into any McD's burger, you just know where it is from. It's not really a bad thing, but it does kind of defeat or bring down some the whole idea of creating a burger to one's taste. We all know there is a difference between a thawed and grilled burger and one freshly made then grilled. You can just taste it in the meat.
Another thing that is consistent are the fries. Of course I'm gonna some, though I stopped at the large instead of the extra large-you know, portion control. I came at good time too as they were frying up a new batch and I got mine hot, crispy and salty. These also come in a trendy little metal basket, but whether in this or the red cardboard, they do good fries.
I guess when you've been around as long as McDonald's has, you need to try new things to keep up with the competition, of which there is plenty in San Francisco. While I applaud the ability to be able to create your own, I think until they how they do their meat, it really isn't going to be all that different, no matter how much you dress it up. It was okay and with a drink (unlimited tea refills!) and fries it was about $6. Sometimes that is hard for people on a budget to pass up. While I am actually one of those people, I think I would just forgo them, or maybe just get the fried chicken thing instead.