Sunday, January 16, 2011
TBG Eats: The NEW BK Stuffed Steakhouse Burger from Burger King
Current Weight: 170.2 lbs.
Back in college, I spent three years working in the "order at the counter" food service industry. And, while a small frozen yogurt/smoothie shoppe on the beach doesn't quite compare to the more ubiquitous fast food conglomerates out there; my experience did give me an appreciation for overworked and undertrained teenagers everywhere.
When I pull up to the drive-thru for a five dollar "value" dinner, I realize that I'm sacrificing a lot on the customer service side. The greeting will be terse, the menu knowledge will be minimal and there's a reasonable chance that some aspect of my order will be completed incorrectly. It's not that I have low standards. It's just that I prefer to (nit)pick different battles within the fast food industry.
The Substitution Rule -- Customers should only be allowed two substitutions or special requests per order. Not per menu item, but per order. For example, Mrs. Bootleg orders her cheeseburgers with no tomatoes and no pickles. Any more changes will invariably confuse the kid behind the counter and result in a longer wait for everyone else in line.
The Subway Rule -- Believe it or not, I have actually seen Subway customers order a sandwich "with everything". The "sandwich artist" is then forced to spend several minutes meticulously balancing more than a dozen mismatched toppings atop a six-inch turkey and cheese. This approach might be appropriate for those free-roaming bargain buffets, but watching pepperoncini, black olives and bell peppers hold up the lunch line is the definition of diminishing returns.
The Other Substitution Rule -- Several weeks ago, I ordered a Loaded Breakfast Burrito from Carl's Jr. Instead of halved bacon strips, it was filled with salad bar bacon bits. There's a difference. It's akin to replacing the tomatoes on a BLT with extra ketchup.
Why Not Breakfast All Day, Everywhere? -- As far as I know, Jack in the Box and Sonic are the only two major fast food chains that offer their respective breakfast menus all day. There's no good reason why every other restaurant can't follow suit. I happen to find most of McDonald's menu to be inedible, but if I could score an after-work Sausage McGriddle and panty liner-inspired hash brown patty, they'd get a LOT more of my business.
Extra Sauce = Extra Cost -- In some markets, Taco Bell charges 50 cents more for extra sauce. This is ridiculous on its own, but when an additional half-dollar is added to a 99-cent menu item, I'm left to wonder when someone will bring this national fiscal atrocity to the attention of those Tea Party loons.
My local Burger King is doing its damnedest to create new pet peeves for me.
Around these parts, they're the undisputed ruler of inaccurate orders. Mrs. Bootleg's tomato-and-pickle-free Whopper Jr always comes with tomatoes and pickles. Jalen's plain hamburger kids' meal always comes un-plain -- if they remember to include it at all. But, a quick check of the contents before driving away from the pick-up window can catch these kind of screw-ups.*
* -- For the record, even though Mrs. Bootleg is the original "Negro Diva", she'll just pick the tomato and pickles off her burger. Her fighting specialty is "retail" with a focus on mail-order shoes that happen to be the wrong size.
BK has a new Jalapeño and Cheddar Stuffed Steakhouse Burger. The relatively high-end "Steakhouse" line is, in concept, similar to McDonald's Angus Third Pounders and Carl's Jr.'s/Hardee's Six Dollar Burgers (or Thickburgers). The "stuffed" gimmick seems to be a loose knock-off of Minnesota's famous Juicy Lucy.
After a short drive from Stately Bootleg Manor, I pulled into the Burger King drive-thru. No matter if it's morning, noon or night, the same young man seems to be assigned to the drive-thru speaker. And, every order becomes an Abbott and Costello routine:
Me: "Can I get the Stuffed Steakhouse Burger?"
Drive-Thru Guy: "You want a number eleven..."
Me: "No. Just a Stuffed...Steakhouse...Burger."
DTG: "Oh, I'm sorry. That's one BK Stacker."
Me: "No. Stuffed. Steakhouse. Burger. Y'know, the new one."
DTG: "Oh, OK."
I pulled around to the pick-up window and was told that my burger would take "three more minutes". I was asked to pull around to the front and my order would be brought out. This type of drive-thru segregation should only be reserved for those who break my imaginary "no more than two substitutions" rule. I did nothing wrong!
"Three more minutes" became almost ten minutes, so I concluded that either (1) my order was done earlier and the BK team had forgot about me or (2) my order was mistakenly given to the car that was originally behind me in the drive-thru line. Just as I was about go inside and get indignant, out came my order.
When I got home, I discovered that it was explanation #1. My supposedly hot-off-the-grill, extra-wait Stuffed Steakhouse Burger was less than lukewarm. It looked enticing, with small pieces of cheddar cheese and cubed jalapeños blended into the burger. The smoky/spicy aroma also had my hopes up. But, the flavors kind of sat there with nothing standing out.
The foundation for a solid novelty burger is here, though. There's a peppery little kick in each bite and the cheese has a distinct taste on the tongue. If mine had been served hotter, the meat might've better contrasted with the lettuce, tomato and surprisingly bland poblano sauce. Additionally, the Stuffed Steakhouse Burger is practically begging for a layer of bacon. I know I'm not "swine unbiased", but I can't believe BK didn't think of this themselves.
I'm inclined to give this one another try, but at a BK location more likely to get it right.
Grade: 2.5 (out of 5) Calories: 600 Fat: 34g