The Plant-Based, Beyond Meat P.L.T. at McDonald’s

Beyond Meat Burger (PLT) at McDonald'sLocation: 980 Dundas Street, Woodstock
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

What have I been up to today?  Oh, you know, not much, just driving 120 kilometres to try a veggie burger at McDonald’s.  That’s 120 kilometres one way, so 240 kilometres total, or about three hours of driving.

You know, a totally rational, normal way to spend a Monday.  Not crazy at all.

Yes, in case you haven’t heard, McDonald’s recently embraced the inevitable and announced that they’re going to be joining the increasingly crowded fake meat game.

They’ve teamed up with Beyond Meat, probably the most famous purveyor of veggie burgers that (supposedly) taste like the real deal, and they’re testing them out at 28 locations in and around London, Ontario.

Beyond Meat Burger (PLT) at McDonald's

The faux-burger is called the P.L.T. (Plant, Lettuce and Tomato), and they describe it on their website as “a juicy, plant-based patty made with Beyond Meat® and served on a sesame seed bun with tomato, lettuce, pickles, onions, mayo-style sauce, ketchup, mustard, and a slice of processed cheddar cheese.”

It’s… fine, I guess?  It’s a Beyond Meat burger through and through, so if you’ve had one of those, then you know what to expect.  The McDonald’s publicity machine is claiming that they’ve been working with Beyond Meat to create a custom patty that matches the flavour of their standard burgers, and maybe that’s true.  But if it is, I certainly couldn’t tell.

The advance buzz — that this tastes just like a regular McDonald’s burger — is absolutely, positively not the case.  It’s basically fine for what it is, but unless it’s been many, many years since you’ve had a burger at the Golden Arches, you’re not going to be fooled.

Beyond Meat Burger (PLT) at McDonald's

The biggest issues are the taste and the texture (so… everything, basically).  The flavour is vaguely meat-like, but it also tastes off and lacks anything even remotely resembling beefiness.  It’s not gross, but it kind of falls into the uncanny valley of hamburgers.

The texture is about the same — close, but not quite there.  It vaguely approximates an actual hamburger, but again, it’s off; it’s a bit too soft and mushy.

I recently had the Beyond Burger at Tim Hortons; this is going to sound completely insane, but that one was better.  In this particular case, Tim Hortons’ incompetence worked in their favour — the patty had obviously been cooked in advance and kept warm, which dried it out a bit and helped to reduce the off-putting squishy texture.

Beyond Meat Burger (PLT) at McDonald's

Everything else about the burger was fine — the many condiments were all McDonald’s standbys, and they were all tasty enough.

Honestly, it could have used more toppings.  The patty was still the dominant flavour, and in this case that’s definitely not a good thing.  The version at Tim Hortons was more successful in covering up the flavour of the patty with a welcome deluge of assertive condiments.

Is this worth a three hour drive?  For a maniac like me who’s eaten at McDonald’s all over the world, maybe?  For everyone else, absolutely not.  It’s fine for what it is, but when Tim friggin’ Hortons is beating you at your own game, you know you’re in trouble.

An Interesting Cinnamon Bun at Fika Cafe

Fika CafeLocation: 28 Kensington Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.fika.ca/

I’ve tried to get the cinnamon bun from Fika Cafe a few times, and it’s been sold out every time.

I finally got one.  It was worth the wait.

Fika Cafe

Fika Cafe is a Swedish bakery and coffee shop in Kensington Market; they sell a Swedish-style cinnamon bun, and it’s fantastic.

It’s basically like a cross between a Swedish cardamom bun and a more traditional cinnamon roll, and it’s so damn good.  It tastes more strongly of cinnamon than cardamom, but that slightly floral cardamom taste is definitely there; it’s a delightful balance.

Fika Cafe

Everything else about it is pretty much perfect — it has the perfect amount of sweetness, with a light sugary glaze and additional pops of sweetness and texture from the  pearl sugar on top.  It’s pretty restrained, however, so if you’re expecting a Cinnabon-esque sugar-bomb, look elsewhere.

The pastry itself is dense but not too dense, with a nice chewy texture and just the right amount of fluffiness.  And of course, the aforementioned cinnamon/cardamom balance is just right.  It’s one of the best pastries I’ve had in a while.

Mexican Chipotle Burger at McDonald’s

McDonald's Mexican Chipotle Burger - McTastersLocation: 1138 Victoria Street North, Kitchener
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

McDonald’s recently came out with a couple of “new” (I’m pretty sure both have been on the menu before) items called McTasters: the Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Sandwich, and the Mexican Chipotle Burger.

I tried the Mexican Chipotle Burger, and it was surprisingly decent.  It’s definitely one of the better new things I’ve tried at McDonald’s recently.

McDonald's Mexican Chipotle Burger - McTasters

The burger comes with “chipotle aioli sauce, crispy tortilla strips and a juicy beef patty, all on a toasted sesame and paprika ciabatta bun.”

It’s tasty.  The chipotle aioli sauce basically tastes like the dressing you’ll find on any number of Southwest salads, only with a mild spicy kick.  The crunchy tortilla strips add a nice bit of texture, and the cheese (which is unmentioned on the menu for some reason) ties it all together.

McDonald's Mexican Chipotle Burger - McTasters

The bun is interesting, too — it’s chewier and more dense than the typical McDonald’s bun, but it works.

It helps that the beef is the classic small McDonald’s patty, and not the Angus or the Quarter Pounder patty that they use in most of their limited-time items.  When it comes to the beef at McDonald’s, less is more; the slim old-school patty is the perfect size.

Descendant: Still Some of the Best Pizza in the City

Descendant PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://descendantdsp.com/

Though I generally like to visit places I haven’t tried when I eat out, exceptions have to be made.  Especially in the case of a restaurant serving food as great as Descendant, which makes superb Detroit-style pizza.  It’s a strong contender for the best pizza in the city.

And yeah, it’s still great.

I tried a couple of pizzas — the Gatt-Daddy (“house made fennel sausage, Mama Lil’s Peppers, red onion, sauce, basil aioli, fresh parsley & basil”) and the Jaffna (“kothu roti, mango chutney, cilantro cream, green onion, Calabrian chilis, fresh cilantro, coconut sambol”).

Descendant Pizza

Orrdering a pizza as bizarrely topped as the Jaffna might be a dicey proposition at a lesser pizza joint — but Descendant is not a lesser pizza joint.  Aside from making technically superb pizzas, Descendant does an amazing job of taking seemingly bizarre flavour combos and doing something special with them.  The Jaffna is sweet, spicy, savoury, and tangy in all the best ways.

The Gatt-Daddy is more traditional, and of course, they knock it out of the park.

Descendant Pizza

It helps that the pizza itself is so good — the crust is delightfully crispy on the bottom, and dense enough to hold up to the voluminous toppings while still being delightfully fluffy and amazing.  It’s a balancing act, and one that Descendant pulls of beautifully.

And of course, there’s that Detroit-style pizza trademark — the ring of dark, crispy goodness around the pizza where the cheese has come into contact with the square pan.  It’s so good.

Cupcake Perfection at Bobbette and Belle

Bobbette and BelleLocation1121 Queen Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://bobbetteandbelle.com/

I’ve already mentioned Bobbette and Belle, a delightful bakery on the east end (they also have a location north of the city).

I quite enjoyed the last cupcake I had here — the cookies and cream — but the pineapple coconut variety I just had blew it out of the water.  It was outstanding.  It might have been the best cupcake I’ve ever had, and that’s not a proclamation I make lightly.

Holy moly it was so good.  I only have the one photo, because I wasn’t planning on blogging about it, but then I ate it and of course I have to blog about it.

The balance between the fluffy buttercream icing and the perfectly moist cake is phenomenal, and the coconut and pineapple flavours work incredibly well together.  That’s not to mention the toasted coconut on top, which adds more flavour and a delightful crispiness.

Seriously: it’s ridiculous how delicious this cupcake is.