Maple & Cheddar Chicken at McDonald’s

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy ChickenLocation: 796 Burnhamthorpe Road West, Mississauga
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

The Maple & Cheddar Chicken was a pleasant surprise.  “Maple” being so prominent in the name of the sandwich, I sort of figured it would be way too sweet.  And yeah, it was sweet.  But the sweetness feels relatively well tuned.

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy Chicken

The Maple & Cheddar Chicken comes topped with maple mustard sauce, “mayo-style sauce,” cheddar cheese, crispy onions, tomato, and lettuce.

It pretty tasty, though the maple mustard sauce is basically all maple with a tiny bit of mustard.  It’s a glaze.  It’s incredibly mapley, and hardly mustardy at all.

McDonald's - Maple and Cheddar with Crispy Chicken

But the salty chicken, cheddar, and crispy onions all do a pretty decent job of balancing out the sweetness.  It works.

Also: put crispy onions on everything, please.  They’re delicious and enhance basically everything they’re on.  Well, maybe not on dessert, but hey –who knows?  Crispy onions on a sundae?  Might work.  I can’t rule it out.

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald’s

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald'sLocation: 30 Courtneypark Drive East, Mississauga
Website: https://www.mcdonalds.com/ca/en-ca.html

The Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries aren’t the most exciting new item at McDonald’s — they’re just fries with some seasoning on them.

And when I popped open the box, I was skeptical.  The way the spice blend was mounded onto the fries, there was no way they could be good.  That’s too much seasoning, isn’t it?

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald's

They were actually pretty tasty.  The profound amount of seasoning on the fries (particularly the ones on top) made me assume that the flavour was going to be overwhelming, but it was more subtle than I was expecting.  There was a lot, but it worked.

The seasoning is lightly zingy, with a decent chipotle flavour and a mild hit of spice.  It’s not too salty, which is good because if it were, it would have been inedible.

Spicy Chipotle Seasoned Fries at McDonald's

The effect is basically like a cross between a flavoured bag of chips and French fries.  It’s quite tasty.  The only real downside is the presence of garlic and onion powder in the spice mix, which means you’re going to be stuck with a lingering aftertaste for hours after you eat it.

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.

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.

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.