Location: 195 North Queen Street, Etobicoke
McDonald’s has just started a “World Taste Tour,” in which they’re offering items loosely inspired by China, Australia, Italy, France, and Mexico.
I’m not gonna lie — I get more excited than I should probably admit when fast food joints (McDonald’s in particular) do silly promos like this. I can travel the world? Via McDonald’s? Sign me up!
They’re staggering them out over the next couple of months, but the first burger they’re offering is the Chinese Szechuan Burger, which is topped with Szechuan sauce (no, not the Szechuan sauce that caused Rick and Morty fans to lose their minds — a different Szechuan sauce), crispy wontons, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and mayo.
It’s not the best. The biggest issue here is the patty itself. It’s the luck of the draw, of course; you might get a relatively fresh patty, or you might get one that’s been sitting in the meat drawer for a while. On this particular visit, I got the latter. It was super dry, even by McDonald’s not-so-great standards.
Everything else was decent. The Szechuan sauce is basically just a vaguely spicy version of a typical Asian sesame dressing — it’s sweet, with a sesame-infused flavour and a spice level that’s so mild you’ll question that it’s even there.
The crispy wontons add a nice hit of texture to the burger, and the grilled onions are actually quite tasty. The whole thing would have fine if it weren’t for that patty — but it was surprisingly substantial and dry AF.
Location: 4333 Bloor Street West, Etobicoke
I like McDonald’s. The place tends to get a bad rap, but if you’re craving something junky and quick, it (usually) hits the spot. I’m sure a childhood’s worth of nostalgia helps, but there’s always going to be a place in my life for the occasional visit to the Golden Arches.
That being said, the Egg BLT Bagel was super duper gross and you should absolutely never eat it.
I got it on a plain bagel, which was overly sweet and substantial. The egg was dry and overcooked, the bacon was paper-thin and soggy, the lettuce was so stingy that it may as well not have even been there, and the mayo overload meant it was impossible to eat without making a greasy mess. There just wasn’t a whole lot of flavour here, other than the sweetness from the bagel.
The tomato was okay, though, so… hooray for that, I guess?
Location: 1475 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Hot tip: Ikea serves chicken meatballs now, and you should absolutely, positively never order them. You’re welcome.
They’re actually quite similar to the standard beef meatballs, which are junk — but tasty junk. I wouldn’t want to eat them on a regular basis, but they’re not bad for what they are.
The chicken meatballs, on the other hand, are not tasty junk. The flavour is basically fine; they taste a lot like the beef meatballs, but saltier and with a vague chicken-like flavour.
But the texture is horrific. Remember those rubber Super Balls that would bounce and bounce and bounce? I’m pretty sure these meatballs have most of the same properties. They were so rubbery and horrible that I couldn’t even cut through them with a fork.
On the plus side, I also had a slice of the chocolate caramel cake, and it’s surprisingly great. It’s certainly not gourmet — it actually reminds me a lot of the brownies they used to serve in my high school’s cafeteria, but with the addition of caramel — but it’s rich and sweet and satisfying. I think the next time I find myself in Ikea, I might just skip straight to the dessert.
Location: 1706 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Papa John’s seems to be slowly but surely expanding around Toronto; I guess they must be doing okay, because they opened their first location a few years ago, and they’re still opening new ones.
I have fond memories of eating Papa John’s during my childhood trips to Florida, so I guess there’s always going to be a nostalgia-fueled spot in my heart for the place. Because the pizza from Papa John’s was pretty bad, but I still kind of enjoyed it.
The crust is tasteless and vaguely gummy, the cheese is rubbery, and the toppings are mostly what you’d expect (except for the sausage — I can’t even sugar-coat that one, the sausage is flat-out gross). But there’s still something inexplicably appealing about it. It’s junk, and yet you find yourself compelled to take another slice.
There’s that old saying about how even when pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good. That’s Papa John’s in a nutshell: it’s bad, but… it’s also kinda good?
This definitely also applies to the dipping sauce, which is basically just a tiny tub of garlic-powder-flavoured grease. I enjoyed it in the same way that I enjoyed the pizza: with a furrowed brow and a not-insubstantial hit to my self-respect.
Location: 6170 Bathurst Street, Toronto
Generally speaking, I think McFlurries are a waste of time. I mean, they’re just a poor man’s Blizzard, right? If I’m craving a blended ice cream treat, why get an imitation when I can have the original?
It turns out I might be wrong about this, because I just had the Butterscotch Blondie McFlurry, and it was easily better than any Blizzard I’ve had in recent memory.
It had a really rich caramel flavour from the abundant butterscotch, and the sizable blondie chunks were chewy, tasty, and satisfying. It’s super sweet, obviously, but there was enough going on here that it didn’t feel one-note.
The ice cream was a little too melty, but aside from that? Shockingly good.