Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Review - McDonald's M Burger

Every once in a while, fast food chains like to shake things up by offering a limited edition item on their menu.  Rumour has it this is designed to make use of an inexpensive ingredient in the supply chain (the McRib often said to be offered when pork meat is particularly inexpensive to purchase).  It's unclear how much truth there is in that rumour however and it seems more likely that the real intention is simply to keep things fresh and ensure that customers don't become bored with the standard menu items.

The 'M' Burger is one such example offered by McDonald's in the UK during recent months.  A stone-baked Ciabatta style bun, 100% beef patty, tomato, Batavia lettuce,  Emmental cheese slice and optional bacon with a 'delicious dressing'.  The dressing seemed, at first taste, to be something close to a peppery mayonnaise.  I can't say this for sure though as the testing was done purely on a review basis and so the more typical in-depth analysis and replication didn't take place for this burger.

Over the years, I've never been overly impressed with the limited edition items sold by most fast food restaurants.  Tinkering for tinkering's sake is often the feeling i'm left with, particularly when it comes to trying to force a classic, traditional burger into something which could be classed as 'gourmet' by introducing unnecessary items such as ciabatta buns.  A traditional burger bun is considered classic for a reason and so trying to turn it into something it's not often seems like a mutton dressed as lamb situation.  Regardless, I have a keen interest in these things (had you noticed?) and so I decided to give it a go and see what all the fuss was about.

The first thing that struck me about the M burger was the buttery flavour which seemed to be part of the bun as opposed to the burger.  The meat used in the burger is the same as in any other McDonald's beef product, and so it quickly became clear that the buttery flavour coming through must be the result of something used on the ciabatta bun itself.  Although not completely unpleasant, it had a slightly artificial taste which was a little disappointing.  I couldn't make up my mind if the butter flavour was part of the 'delicious dressing' or if it was a seperate entity spread on the bun prior to the dressing being added.  A project for the future, no doubt.

The ciabatta bun itself was surprisingly tasty.  Of all the limited edition items I've tried, this bun was definitely the most impressive and I'd happily purchase it if it was available as a stand alone item from a bakery or deli.  Call me a purist though (or just plain stubborn) but in this context it didn't cut it in comparison to the traditional and classic burger bun.

The Emmental cheese slice was pale and unattractive in colour but had a good, nutty flavour.  As part of the Big Tasty (another limited edition menu item), I've definitely enjoyed it in the past.  In the M Burger however, its flavour was lost somewhat, overshadowed by the flavour of the dressing and ultimately failing to combine in the successful way it does with the much loved Big Tasty sauce.


Having tried the M burger once, I wouldn't order it again over the classic burger items available on the menu.  Kudos to McDonald's for keeping the menu fresh and giving me another reason to eat bad food, but other than that I can't recommend it and won't be particularly disappointed if it doesn't appear on the menu again for the foreseeable future.  It could be said that I'm prejudiced when it comes to burgers and see any sort of change as a negative, and that may well be true.  For those of you who enjoy a so called 'gourmet' style burger, this might be worth trying.  Traditionalists though will see this as an unnecessary tweak on something which wasn't broken and didn't need fixed.

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