The New “Hotter and Juicier” Big Mac

McDonald's - New Improved Big MacLocation: 2510 Hampshire Gate, Oakville
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

McDonald’s is making a big hullabaloo about their “remastered” classic burgers (the Big Mac, the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and the Cheeseburger).  This includes a promotion where you can get a Big Mac for three bucks, so I figured it was worth a shot.

The improvements, according to McDonald’s:

  • 100 per cent Canadian beef patties now cooked in smaller batches for hotter and juicier beef
  • Storage changes for fresher and crisper produce
  • Onions added directly on the patties on the grill to intensify flavour
  • More of our legendary Mac Sauce applied on Big Macs
  • New bun recipes for warmer buns

I got a Big Mac, and… I don’t know.  It’s a Big Mac?  It tastes like a Big Mac?  I’m sure if I were that guy who eats multiple Big Macs every day, it would have blown my mind with all the little differences.  But it’s been a year or two since I’ve had one.  It tasted exactly the same to me.

McDonald's - New Improved Big Mac

Actually, that’s not entirely true — it’s clearly saucier.  The amount of sauce is kind of insane.  It oozes out of the burger with every bite.  It’s a mess.

Obviously the dry, mostly tasteless McDonald’s patties need a lot of help (and no, they are absolutely not juicier in any discernible way).  But even still, this was overkill.

The only other change that stood out were the onions; you could tell just by looking at them that they had been put on the griddle.  They had a bit of colour to them.  But if that made any particular difference to the flavour, I certainly couldn’t tell.

Still, it wasn’t bad.  I liked the Big Mac before, and I like it now — but I guess I prefer the old version, because the amount of sauce on the new one is bonkers.

Unique Pork Cheeseburgers at Harmony Lunch

Harmony LunchLocation: 90 King Street North, Waterloo
Websitehttps://harmonylunch.ca/

Harmony Lunch makes me mad.  Not because the food is bad — it’s actually quite good.  That’s the problem.

I went to the University of Waterloo, so I lived in the area for four years, and I somehow managed to go that entire time without knowing that this place existed.  To add insult to injury: it’s right around the corner from the Princess Cinema, an art house theatre that was a regular destination for me during my time in Waterloo.  So it was right there, and I had no idea.

Harmony Lunch

Harmony Lunch is a legit old-school diner (it’s been around since 1930) that’s mostly known for their pork-based hamburgers that are served with a generous amount of griddled onions (along with tomato, relish, mustard, and American cheese).

It’s basically a classic griddled hamburger, only with pork instead of beef.  I missed the beef — in the context of a hamburger, the much milder flavour of pork feels like a downgrade when you’re expecting that nice beefy hit.  But then I’m kinda burger-obsessed, so maybe I’m biased.

Harmony Lunch

Certainly, it’s hard to complain too much when the final product is so tasty.  The patty is otherwise just right, with a good texture, a nice amount of crust from the griddle, and a satisfying juiciness.  And the combo of the pork patty, the soft griddled onions, and the gooey American cheese is hard to resist.

It’s all on a soft, fresh bun that’s been lightly toasted on both sides, and that suits the burger perfectly.

Harmony Lunch

I got it with the house salad on the side, which was nicely prepared and featured a deliciously zingy dressing.

So… how did I manage to live in Waterloo for four years without knowing about this place??  Who should I be furious at?  I need to direct this anger somewhere.

Aussie BBQ & Egg Burger at McDonald’s

Aussie BBQ & Egg Burger at McDonald'sLocation5310 Dixie Road, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.mcdonalds.ca

Well, here it is — Australia, the last stop on McDonald’s World Taste Tour (though there’s also the Mexican breakfast wrap, which I guess I should try at some point).

McDonald’s describes the Aussie BBQ & Egg Burger as coming topped with “a fresh cracked egg, crispy beet chips, processed cheese, leaf lettuce and a smoky BBQ sauce on a brioche-style bun.”

Aussie BBQ & Egg Burger at McDonald's

I’m not even going to bother complaining about the burger patty itself.  It’s not good — but then it’s McDonald’s, so no one should be surprised by this.  I will say that I really wish they’d use the thinner patties from the regular hamburger and the Big Mac on all of their burgers.  When it comes to the beef at McDonald’s, less is more.

But then no beef patty could have saved this burger — it’s easily the worst of the World Taste Tour.  It’s mostly pretty good: an egg is always welcome on a burger, the beet chips and the lettuce add a satisfying crunch, and the gooey cheese helps bring it all together.  But the smoky BBQ sauce (which is mayo-based, unlike a standard BBQ sauce) completely ruins it.  It’s the absolute worst.  It’s cloyingly, aggressively sweet, with no smokiness at all.  It’s just awful.

Aussie BBQ & Egg Burger at McDonald's

BBQ sauce tends to be quite sweet, but with a vinegary bite to help balance things out.  No such balance here; just in-your-face sweetness.

The burger kind of reminded me of the trifle Rachel made on Friends, but in reverse.  It’s got a bunch of tasty burger ingredients… and a sugary-sweet sauce that would be more at home on a slice of cake or a scoop of ice cream.  It’s one of those things that’s so bad, you have to wonder if anyone even tasted it before they added it to the menu.

Rudy: Still Great

RudyLocation: 619 College Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://rudyresto.com/

I recently named Rudy the best burger in Toronto.  So from now on, I’m always going to be afraid that, one day, they’ll lower the quality of their hamburgers and make me look like an idiot.

That day may come.  It hasn’t yet.

I just went back, and I can confirm that it’s as great as ever.  The burger is still juicy, beefy, and amazing.  And that crust from the griddle?  Bonkers.  Absolutely bonkers.

Rudy

I mean, look at that.  It’s perfect.

Along with the burger and fries, I tried the deep-fried pickle chips, and they were pretty great too — particularly when you dip them in the tasty ranch sauce that comes on the side.

Rudy

Fried pickles is one of those things that sounds weird until you try it, and you realize that it’s actually amazing.  I wish the batter here was a little less chewy and a bit more crunchy, but aside from that they were tasty and addictive.

Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy’s

Wendy's

Wendy’s is probably my favourite fast food burger joint (it’s neck-and-neck with A&W).  But of course, being the best fast food burger chain isn’t exactly a tall mountain to climb.  That’s why I was so shocked at how much I enjoyed the Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy’s.

It’s topped with mushrooms, bacon, aioli, fried onion tanglers, and Asiago cheese.  It’s easily the best fast food hamburger I’ve had in a long, long time.

It’s still a fast food burger, so the patty itself wasn’t particularly great — but it wasn’t too dry and it didn’t have any off flavours.  For a big fast food chain, that’s about as good as it gets.

Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's

Burgers from a place like this tend to be more about the toppings than the burger itself, and that’s where this one really stood out.  The Gouda was pleasantly sharp and creamy, the aioli was tasty, and the bacon was substantial enough to not get lost among the other flavours.

I’m normally not a huge fan of mushrooms on a burger, but these were well cooked and suited the burger well.  But what really put this over the top were the fried onion tanglers.  I assumed these were going to be the typical crispy fried onions that come out of a bag, but they were actually little onion rings that had clearly been freshly made. They were great.

Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's

At first I was thinking that the price was a bit much — it’s about $7.50 with tax for the burger alone — but then I ate it, and yeah.  It’s worth the money.  It was good.  Not just good for fast food, but good, period.

I should note that the Wendy’s I went to was staffed entirely by adults who seemed to know what they were doing.  It was obvious that all of the components were relatively fresh, and it was assembled with care.  But it could have just as easily been thrown together by a bored teenager, so as is always the case with fast food, your mileage may vary.