Monday, September 6, 2010
TBG Eats: The NEW Philly Cheesesteak Burger from Carl's Jr.
Current Weight: 171.4 lbs.
Last week marked my 15-year anniversary as a resident of San Diego.
Most of you know I was born and raised 90 minutes north up in Long Beach. I am unabashedly and unapologetically Californian through and through.
And, if you're from California, you undoubtedly realize how ridiculous that last sentence reads.
Y'see, California is a convenient piñata for every other state in the union. The clichéd critiques have been unchanged during my lifetime with the top five being: traffic, smog, cost of living, liberals and homosexuals. But, the best thing about California – aside from climate, diversity, tolerance and the fact that the smog and the most obscene traffic congestion are exclusive to LA (two hours from where I breathe and drive) – is that its residents don't wear the state on our sleeves.
It's not that we're without residential pride; it's just that our home state doesn't define us.*
* -- Yes, there was a flood of pro-California music that came out during the (maybe, just maybe media-created) East Coast/West Coast Rap Wars of 1994-1996. With the lone exception of Tupac and Dr. Dre's California Love, none of it has held up over time. Westside Connection sold two million copies of their first album in 1996. Name ONE song from it. See? You can't. Even Ice Cube couldn't represent with conviction.
A few years ago, Domino's Pizza created an especially contrived ad campaign called "American Legends". The chain came up with "six famous regional tastes" and filmed a series of screamingly unconvincing commercials…featuring a lot of screaming.
Traffic and smog?! Oh, it's ON, Memphis, Tennessee!
Even by the scripted, simple-minded standards of most 30-second spots, no one can be that passionate about pizza unless you're from New York.**
** -- My perception may be skewed from repeated viewings of Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing". I mean, who orders a slice of pizza on the hottest day of the year inside the stifling confines of Sal's Famous Pizzeria? Wouldn't a mixed greens salad with candied walnuts, gorgonzola cheese and a light raspberry vinaigrette dressing be infinitely more refreshing? Wouldn't it?!
I've never understood the whole "state identification by food" thing. I used to work with a guy who was originally from upstate New York. Every Friday, someone would bring in bagels and every Friday, he'd rail against California's version of chewy Jewish food. "These are more like rolls!", he'd always exclaim. I assume in New York, the consistency of bagels is a cross between beef jerky and Bit-O-Honey.
At the same job, I worked with a woman from Texas. She often lamented the lack of "real" barbecue in Southern California. This tickled me for a variety of reasons. Was she expecting San Diego to have perfected heavily-sauced, slaughtered pig parts when she moved out here? Did she realize that even in states that are recognized for their barbecue (Tennessee, Missouri, and North Carolina) some of them do it differently than Texas?
Carl's Jr. is opening themselves up for criticism from Keystone State transplants with the re-release of their Philly Cheesesteak Burger. (They could also be criticized for the terrible commercial below, but this isn't one of my AiAA posts.)
The Philly Cheesesteak Burger first went into "limited time only" rotation back in 2006. Even though it's not a regular item, it's rumored to be part of the restaurant's "secret menu" that customers can (kinda-sorta) clandestinely order from. And, now it's…uh, back. According to CJ's website:
Juicy steak with sautéed green bell peppers, onions and melted American and Swiss cheeses, all piled on top of a charbroiled beef patty and served between a seeded bun.
Since Carl's Jr. takes great pride in cooking their hamburgers over an open flame, I'm going to assume the thinly-sliced steak, onions and peppers gets the reheated-in-a-microwave treatment. The too-perfect square of melted processed Swiss cheese leads me to believe my theory is correct.
All of the "Philly" toppings were surprisingly lacking in flavor. I've previously eaten the company's Prime Rib Burger and that was a much more successful union of two foods on a bun. The onions and peppers here add nothing, while the remaining burger components (just meat, cheese and mayonnaise) are unexceptional for fast food fare.
Save your breath, Philadelphia. An unsatisfying eatin' experience like this speaks for itself.
Grade: 2 (out of 5) Calories: 750 Fat: 45g