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.

Beyond Meat Burger at A&W

A&W - Beyond Meat BurgerLocation: 1130 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.aw.ca/

A&W recently added a Beyond Meat burger to its menu; the company that makes these things calls them “the future of protein,” and word on the street is that it tastes surprisingly close to the real deal.

Veggie burgers that try to emulate actual beef are pretty much always disgusting (case in point: Doomie’s, a restaurant that actually specializes in vegan food but still manages to serve a vegan patty that tastes like pure, distilled sadness), so I was curious, but my expectations were about as low as it gets.

Well, maybe that helped, because the Beyond Meat burger?  Not terrible!

A&W - Beyond Meat Burger

I know, “not terrible” isn’t exactly high praise, but since I was expecting this to be an all-out disaster, I’m going to chalk that up as a win.

The biggest giveaway that this isn’t an actual hamburger is the texture — though it’s vaguely meaty, it’s also off-puttingly mushy.  But it wasn’t dry or rubbery, so it certainly could have been worse.

A&W - Beyond Meat Burger

(Yeah, I completely mangled the hamburger — it turns out wooden coffee stir-sticks are an absolutely horrible implement to cut a burger in half.  Lesson learned!)

The taste was a bit better than the texture.  It wasn’t beefy at all — but then the actual beef at most fast food joints doesn’t have a particularly beefy flavour.  The flavour is sort of generically meaty in a way that’s not great, but also not altogether unpleasant.  The burger is absolutely doused in ketchup, mustard, and mayo, which helps make it more palatable.

It probably isn’t going to fool anyone other than longtime vegetarians who have forgotten what a burger tastes like, and I don’t think I’d ever order it again, but I was still impressed at how non-gross it was.  I’d easily take it over the actual beef burgers at really bottom-of-the-barrel places like Hero Certified Burgers or Burger King.

Italian Pesto Chicken Sandwich at McDonald’s

McDonald'sLocation: 5310 Dixie Road, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.mcdonalds.ca

Next stop on the World Taste Tour: Italy, with the Italian Pesto Chicken Sandwich.  This is a McChicken patty topped with a pesto aioli sauce, shaved parmesan, arugula, and tomato.  It’s served on a “toasted focaccia bun sprinkled with rosemary.”

It’s actually not bad.  It’s definitely a lot better than the Chinese Szechuan Burger, and probably about on the same level as the French Creme Brulee McFlurry.

Like with the Szechuan Burger, the biggest issue here is with the meat itself.

McDonald's

The chicken patty is what it is.  It’s spongy, salty, ultra-processed, and has about as much resemblance to an actual piece of chicken as a Hyundai has to a Ferrari.  They’re in the same general ballpark, but they’re really not the same thing.

It’s junk, but then anyone walking through the doors of a McDonald’s knows exactly what they’re going to get.  Again: it is what it is.  It’s fine.

And everything else was pretty good.  The pesto aioli sauce has a surprisingly vibrant pesto flavour, and the shaved parmesan isn’t bad at all.  Parmesan, pesto, and peppery arugula are a boffo combination, and McDonald’s doesn’t mess it up.  The whole thing is aggressively salty, but other than that it tastes pretty good.

There wasn’t much rosemary flavour from the bun, but it was fresh, hearty, and a little bit chewy.  It suited the sandwich nicely.

Ramen Disappointment at Kinton

Kinton RamenLocation: 4026 Confederation Parkway, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.kintonramen.com/

Over the last several years, Toronto has seen an explosion of restaurants serving ramen ( a ramenaissance, even?  No?  That’s the worst and I should delete this blog immediately?  Fair).

Despite this, Mississauga remains almost entirely sad and ramenless.  There’s Kenzo, and… that’s about it.  Kinton opening a location here is kind of a big deal.

Their grand opening is today, and to celebrate, they’re offering 50% off all of their ramen.  I showed up a few minutes after they opened, and not surprisingly, the line-up outside was intense.

Kinton Ramen

It’s a nice day, so I figured sure, why not?  It’s been a while since I’ve had the ramen at Kinton, but my recollection was that it was some of the best in the city.

About 40 minutes later, I had a steaming bowl of original shio (salt) ramen with pork.

First, the good: the noodles were great.  You can choose between thick and thin; I went with thick, and they were top-notch.  They had just the right amount of heft, with a nicely firm, springy texture.  I saw some people eating the thin noodles, and they looked way too delicate.  Thick is clearly the way to go.

Kinton Ramen

The pieces of pork were also exceptional; they were super tasty and melt-in-your-mouth tender.  And while the egg wasn’t great (it was undercooked and runny), it was also quite tasty.

Alas, great noodles and pork does not a great bowl of ramen make.

The broth — a.k.a. the heart and soul of a bowl of ramen — was lacking.  Kinton serves tonkotsu ramen, in which pork bones are boiled down for hours and hours until you get a thick, creamy broth.  And they had obviously done something right: the rich broth was indeed thick and creamy.

Kinton Ramen

But the flavour just wasn’t there.  It was bland.  It wasn’t bad at first, but the deficit of taste gets more and more blatant as you go, and by the end of the bowl I was sick of eating it.  I actually left some soup in my bowl, which I pretty much never do.  Not because I was full, but because it was getting monotonous.

The thing about a great bowl of ramen (or even just a good one) is that every mouthful seems to unlock something new; it’s like a symphony of flavours.  Meanwhile, the bowl at Kinton was more like one sad tuba.

It’s literally their first day in existence, so it’s possible that they’re just working out the kinks — but since they’re a chain with nine other locations, I have my doubts.

Classic Eats at Swiss Chalet

Swiss ChaletLocation: 5980 McLaughlin Road, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.swisschalet.com/

This is going to be a short one.  Because I just had the quarter chicken with fries from Swiss Chalet, and come on.  Do you really need me to describe this for you?  I’m pretty sure that you can legally lose your Canadian citizenship if you’ve never tried Swiss Chalet’s chicken.

Swiss Chalet

I know there are some people who think that Swiss Chalet has gone downhill and that it’s just not very good, and I think those people are nuts.  I can’t speak to anything beyond the chicken and the fries — it’s all I ever order — but those two items are still quite tasty.

And at eleven bucks for the chicken, a heaping portion of delicious fries, and a roll, it’s a pretty great deal.  Yes, white meat is a couple of bucks extra, but lets face it: dark meat is superior in every regard.  That’s not even an opinion.  That’s fact.  It’s just science.  It’s tastier and more moist.  I have a theory that people who prefer white meat don’t actually like chicken very much, because white meat is just a dryer, blander version of dark.