There are some brands and products that span all demographics – be it age, income, location, background and gender. To demonstrate this point, pretty much everyone will have their own experiences and ideas on McDonalds.
To be fair though, regardless of what you do think, it has evolved considerably over time, from the styrofoam rubbish (as in the containers) producing family fast food restaurant of the 70’s and 80’s, to the more health conscious, McCafe touting, healthy choice producing, socially responsible chain of today.
But – I hear you thinking – what does this have to do with anything?
Why would McDonalds be of interest to Burger Me? Isn’t this the antithesis of what you are about?
Good questions indeed. So let me explain.
In our quest of unearthing the best burgers there are around, we keep our minds open to where the gems might be hidden. We like to go the extra mile for you, dear reader, to save you the disappointment of poor burger experience, to try and separate the wheat from the chaff.
And so in a round about way, this brought us to Port Adelaide McDonalds, and the opportunity to try out the new Create Your Taste (CYT) menu.
This is an Australian only McDonalds revolution, at this stage anyhow, and had been piloted in NSW and Victoria to a limited extent already. The Port Adelaide store is the first in South Australia, but the plan is to roll it out across all stores in the near future.
We should point out this isn’t to replace the current counter service, and indeed you can ever order CYT that way if needs be. This is something to sit on top of their regular product and options, so you can still get your double quarter pounder at 2am if you so desire. CYT also only operates up until 10pm from memory, so this rules out any post midnight intoxicated burger creation (this may be a good or a bad thing).
What CYT is about is empowering the customer and letting them dictate exactly what they get to eat, within certain parameters of course. Essentially you are presented with an oversized touch screen panel, it steps you through your choices, and then you get to have a McDonalds employee bring your meal to you. Yep, you read correctly. Table service. At McDonalds. I know.
We posted a video before about this, so I will just refer you back to it via the link here if you want to see it in action. Intrigued? We certainly were.
So how did it go? On the operational style of things the touch screen was super sensitive, and there is a little bug here and there, but it was very easy to navigate and it all worked pretty well. It was bright, colourful and logically laid out. The time taken to complete the orders was potentially an issue though, as at a busy time this could cause some significant delays. Also having the user input their number for the table marker (for want of a better term) could lead to issues due to human error. However, like anything, with familiarity would come speed, so this would decrease to some extent over time.
I put together the following (as per the photo) :
Beef patty on a brioche bun, with crispy bacon, grilled onion, grilled mushrooms, lettuce, big Mac sauce, chilli jam, jalopenos, and Jack cheese.
Yep, I like a bit of spice. Wanted to go with Chipotle mayonnaise too, but decided to keep that for another time.
The patty was from the Angus range for those familiar with this. Yeah, it’s a bit small compared to most other burger places, and it will always be cooked well done, but to be fair it really isn’t bad at all. Note : there is only beef at this time, possibly to simplify things, but we understand chicken is planned for the future. You can add another patty in though if you want.
The crispy bacon was….crispy. And bacon like. Good stuff, I just wanted more of it (you can double up, as my colleague did, and there are in fact 2 types of bacon to choose from).
The lettuce was super fresh and crisp, onions were cooked well (without being true caramelised onion, but that’s something nearly everywhere gets wrong). The cheese was melted on the patty, the sauces were good and the jalopenos did their thing.
The mushrooms were the only real disappointment. They tasted a little….strange, but thankfully (as it turns out) were pretty much non existent on my burger. Portion sizes of everything is not especially generous, probably due to being more health conscious in 2015.
The Big Mac sauce did make it immediately and inescapably taste of McDonalds, but that’s no great surprise. It is a good, tasty sauce though if you just take it completely on face value.
The roll also wasn’t the best. I think the other option might be better than this (looks like a kaiser roll). The brioche was just like a normal McDonalds roll with a plastic looking shiny top. Not truly awful, but not exactly a great roll by any stretch.
Value? Add in a basket of fries and a medium drink and this was $13.95.
But you know what? The burgers that we may have designed and how it came together and the cost really doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t necessarily make the same thing, so going into that is kind of pointless.
This was all about the experience. The experience of choosing your own ingredients and having it put together for you. The experience of going to McDonalds and getting table service.
My burger, for the record, was good. Not amazing, but definitely good. That could be partly my fault though, and nothing an extra serve of bacon and removing the mushrooms wouldn’t improve. And I can do that next time. Or do something completely different.
And that is the bottom line really. If you are prepared to check any preconceptions you have of McDonalds at the door (no jacket check in service yet) and look at this as a unique service, a new way of going about ordering your food, and yes, creating your own taste, then you should enjoy this. It’s not a whole new McDonalds experience, bit it is a whole new way to experience McDonalds.
Disclaimer – we were invited (and transported) to come and try this, however this has not influenced our opinion or review in any way.