Tag Archives: Fast Food Review

Fast Food Review: Western Bacon Thickburger from Hardee’s

Rarely can I pass up a western-style burger.  The Rodeo Cheeseburger from Burger King is a personal favorite of mine.  So when Hardee’s added to their line of Thickburgers with a western version, I had to make the stop.  Introducing the Western Bacon Thickburger from Hardee’s.  

Western Bacon Thickburger from Hardee's

Padma Lakshmi and I might be soul mates.  She was all over the Western Bacon Burger in that Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. commercial.  You won’t be seeing me in a sexy dress having BBQ sauce spilling all over the place, but there’s just something about onion rings and BBQ sauce on a burger that makes it extra special.  So I can definitely relate to Padma’s “love affair” with food.  On a recent road trip, I drove passed at least 8 signs pointing towards a Hardee’s restaurant.  Only on my return trip did I decide to stop by and sample the Western Bacon Thickburger.  This burger is billed as, “A 1/3 lb. 100% black angus beef Thickburger topped with beer-battered onion rings, spicy sweet BBQ sauce, melted cheese, diced onion and strips of bacon.”  

Western Bacon Thickburger from Hardee's (close side)

The Thickburger beef patty is definitely hearty clocking in at a 1/3 pound.  I was happy it wasn’t overly greasy and had a “real burger” taste.  A lot of fast food burgers to me seem to get their flavor from being overly greasy.  This burger was able to maintain a nice burger flavor without dripping with grease.  The BBQ sauce, on the other hand, was definitely dripping from this beast.  It made the burger extra sloppy and the fact that the BBQ sauce wasn’t that great made it even worse.  The BBQ sauce is supposed to be “spicy sweet” and that’s just the way I like it.  What I got, in fact, was just a BBQ sauce taste which was neither spicy or sweet.  The strips of bacon on this burger overlaps everything and sticks out from the rest.  It was decent but didn’t really add or take away from the meal.  The cheese was melted well over the burger but really did nothing to add to the taste and just added to the calories and fat (warning this thing is 900 calories with 53 grams of fat!).  On the bottom of the burger there are a couple of pretty thick beer-battered onion rings.  The onion rings had a nice crunch to them but I couldn’t find their specific taste.  Where the onion ring lacks in flavor, the diced onion provides the backup.  Too bad the diced onion flavor overwhelmed the entire burger and I found myself scraping off some of them.  I think the diced onion really worked against the other flavors of the burger.  The sesame seed bun struggled to keep all the ingredients intact.  The Western Bacon Thickburger carried a price tag of $4.19 for the burger alone and $6 and change for the combo.  I must say, it’s a really nice sized burger but not worth $4.19.  I actually got sick of it three quarters of the way through and didn’t finish the entire thing.

Western Bacon Thickburger from Hardee's (open)

If I were to ever get this burger again, I would hold off on the diced onions and get a better idea of the flavors from the other ingredients.  I just hate when a meal is almost completely dominated by one of the ingredients, and that ingredient turns out to be your least favorite.  So I’m going to say that with a little customization, this burger holds some potential.  I won’t go as far as saying it was poor, but it’s really close.  As is, it wasn’t very impressive and had me longing for a Rodeo Cheeseburger from the BK value menu.

  • Pros– Nice crunch to the onion rings.  Hearty and big.  Has potential if you hold the diced onions.  Burger not overly greasy.
  • Cons– BBQ sauce wasn’t very spicy or sweet.  Too much onion taste.  Not cheap.  Sloppy.  900 calories and 53 grams of fat!

Western Bacon Thickburger from Hardee's (close side)

Taste: 5.25/10

Value: 5.00/10

Grubbing on the Go: 4.25/10

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GrubGrade:  5.00/10  (Mediocre)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $4.19

Hardees.com

Nutrition Facts: Western Bacon Thickburger

Calories – 900

Total Fat – 53 grams

Saturated Fat – 20 grams

Cholesterol – 100 milligrams

Sodium – 2040 milligrams

Carbs – 72 grams

Sugars – 19 grams

Dietary Fiber – 3 grams

Protein – 34 grams

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Fast Food Review: BK Burger Shots from Burger King

Lately it seems as though smaller is more fashionable in the fast food world.  Last month I posted some brief observations on the mini burger craze.  While places like White Castle and Krystal have specialized in mini burgers for years, the mainstream haven’t caught on until now.  Burger King looks to hop on the bandwagon with their new BK Burger Shots.

BK Burger Shots from Burger King (box)The BK Burger Shots come in sizes of 2 for $1.39 or a 6 pack for $4.09.  While I’m a big fan of the Burger King Whopper Jr., I’ve never been wowed with their standard hamburger.  That feeling has translated into my impressions of the new Burger Shots.  The concept is as simple as you’d expect, it’s the BK standard hamburger shrunken down.  When you open the box you’ll see that all the mini burgers are attached to one another.  I figure the reason for this is to ease the cooking of the burger and baking the bread.  So right off the bat you have to start tearing each burger from it’s attached state.  Burger King provides a nifty diagram on the box if the concept is difficult to grasp (give us some credit BK).  The burger is your typical flame-broiled beef patty topped with ketchup, mustard and pickles.  The novelty of the burgers being mini wore off within a few seconds for me.  Sure the flame-broiled patty is tasty, not too greasy and satisfying but it’s way too plain and simple to be worth getting again and again.  Towards the conclusion of my meal, I ended up making mini Rodeo burgers (BBQ sauce and onion rings).  I think Burger King should’ve used a different bread to mix things up.  Jack in the Box uses a specialty bread for their new Mini Sirloin Burgers and that’s a nice touch.

BK Burger Shots from Burger King (6pk)It’s true that mini burgers at BK appeared over 20 years ago; they came and went.  I think the fate of the BK Burger Shots will meet the same fate as those 1987 “Burger Bundles”.  They will pique interest for a couple of months and then fade away to make room for another burger idea.  These Burger Shots really offer nothing new except for being a smaller size.  I have yet to try the BK Breakfast Shots so I hold some hope for something greater.

  • Pros– Good value.  Tastes good not great.  Packaging may be big but it does the trick.  Fun for kids.
  • Cons– Very plain.  Bread could be better, a little dry.  Need to tear burgers apart may make a mess of things.  There are better, tastier options around the same price…($0.99 Whopper Jr.)

BK Burger Shots from Burger King (collage)Taste: 7.00/10

Value: 8.00/10

Grubbing on the Go: 8.25/10

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GrubGrade: 7.00/10  (Decent)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $1.39 (2)  $4.09 (6)

BurgerKing.com

Nutrition Facts – BK Burger Shots (for 2)

Calories – 220

Total Fat – 11 grams

Saturated Fat – 4.5 grams

Trans Fat – 0.5 grams

Cholesterol – 35 milligrams

Sodium – 420 milligrams

Carbs – 18 grams

Dietary Fiber – 1 gram

Total Sugar – 4 grams

Protein – 14 grams

Fast Food Review: New Grande Quesadilla from Taco Bell

When new and inventive ideas are running dry, your next step is to go back to a favorite and somehow make it better.  That’s just the motive here with the New Grande Quesadilla from Taco Bell.

Grande Quesadilla from Taco Bell (wrapper)

For many years now, Taco Bell has had quesadillas on their menu.  Basically it’s mix of melted cheeses and your choice of chicken or steak, flattened between a toasted tortilla and cut into four pieces.  Taco Bell amped up this new “Grande” quesadilla by using a thick panadero flatbread to be the soft shell that keeps everything intact.  That seems to be the biggest difference between the old and the new.  That’s really all I could figure out.  The inside is virtually identical.  With the increased size, I did feel as though the spicy jalapeno sauce was more noticeable, and that was a plus.  I enjoyed the Grande Quesadilla but I also missed the toasted tortilla of the original.  At times, I felt that the thick panadero flatbread was a little too much.  It made me appreciate the toasty, crisp edges of the old favorite a lot more.  The Grande Quesadilla’s panadero bread is warm, soft and tasty but it also is too overwhelming for food that’s inside.  Think of a pizza with too much crust.  Towards the end of your meal you might be left with more flatbread than anything else.  That being said, whether you get the carne asada steak or the marinated all-white meat chicken version, both are strong contenders for your $3.09.

Grande Quesadilla from Taco Bell (collage)I have to give credit to the people behind the product line at Taco Bell.  It seems as though you’ll find something new to try out every month.  I hesitate to call it “new” as I recall this twist to the original back in 2007.  The Grande Quesadilla is proof that bigger doesn’t automatically make it better.  Although it is proof that Taco Bell is always keeping the menu fresh and new.

  • Pros– For $3.09 it’s a good, filling value.  Nice spicy kick from the jalapeno sauce and blend of cheeses.  Tasty panadero bread.  Option of steak or chicken both equally savory.  Packaging for hand-held grubbing on the go.
  • Cons– Although the panadero flatbread is tasty, it’s about 20% too much.  Poorly ventilated packaging will make your meal “sweat” from the heat (same problem with the original)  I would prefer crisper shell over soft flatbread.

Grande Quesadilla from Taco Bell (close up)Taste: 8.50/10

Value: 8.00/10

Grubbing on the Go: 8.00/10

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GrubGrade: 8.50/10  (Very Good)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price:  $3.09

TacoBell.com

Nutrition Facts – Grande Quesadilla (steak)

Calories- 900
Calories from Fat – 420
Total Fat – 47 grams
Saturated Fat – 13 grams
Trans Fat – 1 gram
Cholesterol – 75 milligrams
Sodium – 1730 milligrams
Carbs – 83 grams
Dietary Fiber – 8 grams
Protein – 36 grams

Fast Food Review: New Roastburger from Arby’s

The Arby’s menu is expanding with some brand new items such as the recently-reviewed Roast Chicken Club Sandwich.  Arby’s looks to improve upon their roast beef sandwiches with a new burger-like offering.  Anything to take a bite out of the competition.  Claiming to be the “burger done better“, introducing the Roastburger from Arby’s.

Arby's Roastburger in box

There are 3 choices of the Roastburger to kick-off the debut: the All-American, Bacon and Cheddar and the Bacon and Bleu (check out the pic of the box above for a hint of what Roastburgers may be coming later…BBQ Bacon, BBQ Bacon Cheddar and Jalapeno BBQ Bacon).  First impressions with all 3: the Roastburger was a decent sized sandwich with a nice helping of sliced, lean roast beef.  The bun was also a pleasant surprise.  It’s not the limp bun I’m used to with Arby’s sandwiches.  This bun was a higher quality, sturdy specialty roll that was soft and fresh.  Good thing Arby’s made the switch with this bigger bun because it’s needed to support the heftier helping of roast beef. 

  • The All-American Roastburger consists of oven-roasted roast beef, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, ketchup, mustard and a special sauce.  Thoughts:  Plentiful, tasty, lean roast beef.  Nice bun.  Pickles and mustard didn’t work with this sandwich.  Fresh, ripe tomato was a nice touch.  Would benefit from some “Horsey” sauce (horseradish) instead of ketchup/mustard/pickles.  I guess the ketchup/mustard/pickles makes it more like a hamburger, but it doesn’t work as well as I’d hoped.  My second favorite of the 3.
  • The Bacon and Cheddar Roastburger is oven-roasted roast beef, a couple slices of pepper bacon, a slice of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and raw onion.  Thoughts:  The lean roast beef is piled high.  Great pepper bacon but only 2 slices.  Sharp cheddar cheese goes well with the pepper bacon.  I recommend BBQ sauce with this sandwich.  My favorite of the 3.
  • The Bacon and Bleu Roastburger has oven-roasted roast beef, pepper bacon, bleu cheese spread, lettuce, tomato and onion.  Thoughts:  The thinly sliced roast beef is very lean and flavorful.  I’m not a big fan of the bleu cheese spread.  If you are big into bleu cheese, maybe you should give it a shot.  I’m not adverse to bleu cheese spread, but in this sandwich, I didn’t like it.  My least favorite of the 3.

Arby's Roastburgers CollageI have a feeling that the Bacon and Bleu Roastburger will be the least popular of the 3 Roastburgers.  It was my least favorite.  With that being said, I do think the Roastburgers are a well executed new menu item at Arby’s.  I would recommend you to make a few alterations to each Roastburger depending on your tastes.  I had all 3 sandwiches as they are.  Overall, at $3.79 for the sandwich alone and $5.79 for the combo, the Roastburger is filling enough to be a pretty good value.

  • Pros– Very good sandwich bun.  Roast beef is lean and plentiful.  Fresh lettuce, tomato, onion.  Tasty bacon.
  • Cons– Not all the ingredients work well together, I recommend you customize.  

Bacon and Cheddar Roastburger from Arby's

Taste: 8.50/10

Value: 7.75/10

Grubbing on the Go: 7.00/10

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GrubGrade: 7.25/10  All-American (Decent)

GrubGrade: 8.75/10  Bacon and Cheddar (Very Good)

GrubGrade: 5.75/10  Bacon and Bleu (Mediocre)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $3.79

Arbys.com

Nutrition Facts – All-American Roastburger

Calories – 420
Calories from Fat – 170
Total Fat – 18 grams
Saturated Fat – 6 grams
Trans Fat – 1 gram
Cholesterol – 40 milligrams
Sodium – 1390 milligrams
Carbs – 46 grams
Dietary Fiber – 2 grams
Sugar – 9 grams
Protein – 19 grams

Nutrition Facts – Bacon and Cheddar Roastburger

Calories -440
Calories from Fat -160
Total Fat – 18 grams
Saturated Fat – 8 grams
Trans Fat – 1 gram
Cholesterol – 55 milligrams
Sodium – 1450 milligrams
Carbs – 44 grams
Dietary Fiber – 2 grams
Sugar – 7 grams
Protein – 24 grams

Nutrition Facts – Bacon and Bleu Roastburger

Calories -470
Calories from Fat -210
Total Fat – 23 grams
Saturated Fat – 8 grams
Trans Fat – 1 gram
Cholesterol – 50 milligrams
Sodium – 1400 milligrams
Carbohydrates – 44 grams
Dietary Fiber – 2 grams
Sugar – 8 grams
Protein – 22 grams

Fast Food Review: Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich from Wendy’s

While nowhere near top seller status, fast food fish sandwiches still do deserve recognition.  Recently I sampled the Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich from Wendy’s

Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich from Wendy's 1

While currently only available at select  Wendy’s locations, I feel this fish sandwich deserves to be offered at every Wendy’s location.  With Ash Wednesday now behind us, do not be surprised if you see fast food fish offerings (and possible deals on Fridays) spring up at many restaurants.  Not to get all religious on the GrubGrade audience but if you didn’t know, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Friday’s during the season of Lent.  Fish is accepted and has become a staple on the Friday’s leading up to Easter.  So the fast food industry capitalizes on this.   This fish sandwich is better than what I’ve come to expect from a fast food joint.  It’s tasty, filling and doesn’t leave me wanting something extra.

Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich from Wendy's 2

Wendy’s Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich is billed as “Hand-cut fillets of North Pacific cod in a crisp Panko crumb breading, served with crisp lettuce and creamy tarter sauce on a warm bun.”

  • Pros–  Great corn dusted bun holds in everything nicely.  More filling and better quality than the McDonalds Filet-O-Fish sandwich.  Good crunch to the fish patty.  Includes fresh lettuce and tasty tartar sauce.
  • Cons– A bit pricey for the sandwich alone at $3.69.  Although the tartar sauce is tasty, there was just too much of it (this obviously is expected to vary from experience to experience).  Might be a little awkward/messy if you are eating on the go as the bun will shed it’s dust and you’re bound to stain something.

Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich from Wendy's 3

Taste: 8.5/10

Value: 5.5/10

Grubbing on the Go: 6.0/10

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GrubGrade: 8.25/10 (Very Good)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $3.69

Wendys.com