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.
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.
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.
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.