I don’t do burger reviews. But when BurgerBusiness.com’s report of McDonald’s English Pub Burger test makes news in The Independent in England—under the headline, “McDonald’s testing ‘gobsmacking’ British-style burger”—and beyond, I can make an exception.
My larger interesting driving to Algonquin, Ill., where it’s testing, was to see the Pub Burger packaging, which could tip McDonald’s level of seriousness about this $4.49 burger test. The answer is that the burger gets its own branded clamshell but little else, which says the town in northwest Illinois isn’t necessarily the sure starting point for a national rollout. The crewperson at the drive-thru window told me the Pub has been selling well “because it’s in the newspaper.” Or on the Web.
And how is it? I didn’t care for it, actually. There are too many bold flavors—sharp Dijon mustard, sweet/tangy steak sauce, smoky bacon and grilled onions—competing for attention, to my taste. But the American cheese that some decry as being out of place and un-British is just fine. There’s a good Cheddar, too. The clear winner here, though, is the “artisan roll.” It’s at least the equal of the dense, chewy, flavorful buns familiar at upscale burger joints. McDonald’s should use this roll for the Angus line…and everything else. It’s that good.
● In other McDonald’s packaging-related news, French blog Fast and Food reports that McDonald’s will take its boxed-meal menu platform to France this summer. For four weeks beginning Aug. 10, McDonald’s offers a three-person Chicken Box meal with three chicken wings, six McNuggets and three of the Chicken Delights mini fillets used in the P’tit Wrap snack. The meal is priced at €7.90 ($11.08).
Let’s recap the bidding: Like McCafé, Chicken McBites and others, McDonald’s boxed-meal program originated in Australia. Family Dinner Boxes appeared in March 2010, offering a variety of burger meals for four. A chicken version of the Family Dinners was added in May 2011 (supported by new TV spots), along with boxed lunches and breakfasts for two. A Family Breakfast Box for four is offered at McDonald’s in Malaysia and a McBox meal with burgers and McNuggets is on the after-4-p.m. menu in Croatia, Slovakia and a few other European nations.
However, the imminent arrival of a Chicken Box in France likely means it will spread through Northern Europe, the UK and Ireland and, eventually, to the U.S. Hardee’s offered a Big Box Lunch deal earlier this year, and KFC and Jack in the Box have created boxed meals as well. Burger King has responded with Dinner Bundles boxes in New Zealand and Jack’s Packs boxed meals in Australia, where it operates as Hungry Jack’s.