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 JalapeƱo 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 jalapeƱos 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


sean in accounting said...

1.) I had this at the BK in Escondido across from the BevMo. I'd go 3.5 or 4. Great call on the bacon. With it, we're approaching the "Angry Whopper" level of awesome.

2.) Speaking of BevMo, when do we get a review of Parrot in a Palm Tree? That might be the best Karl Strauss release ever.

3.) Don't piss off the Tea Party. They're the political equivalent of Juggalos.

Aaron C. said...

1.) Only problem with the one in Escondido is that it's just a stone's throw from a Del Taco. If given a choice, I'm going with something "Macho" and a side of fried jalapenos.

2.) Just as soon as I finishing buying up every bomber in town. Terrific beer.

3.) In my old weekly music column, I made the mistake of mocking Elvis. Now, THAT was some hate mail.

that mexican guy said...

We are WAY overdue for a Del Taco run. Also...

Mrs. Bootleg and Mrs. That Mexican Guy should compare retail war stories. I should tell you about the time Mrs. TMG rush ordered some shoes for a wedding. She insists they were the wrong size, raised hell to customer service and ultimately got the shoes for free.

Shoes she still wears.

Tom said...

My dad discovered the Juicy Lucy on some random trip to New England last year and started making them at home. I don't know if I've ever had a better burger.

Also, it seems like BK's service people are universally the worst. So much so that BK has totally fallen off my fast-food rotation... and the Double Whopper/PowerAde combo was my go to hangover remedy in college.

Lew B said...

On our weekly Jaunt from Poway to the mountain cabin, the BK in Ramona is on the way. They have never ONCE gotten our order right.

I'm easy, I'll eat anything. But the little lady can't do dairy, so her "no cheese" Whopper is always extra cheese.

It sucks because their food is okay, it's just I get madder and madder each time.

And we've tried checking at the window. Basically we don't want to hold up all the other cars, so we just make sure the right amount of stuff is in the bag. And it is, just it's the right amount of wrong stuff.

thatBKnicka said...

unsolicited BK musing - Every time I order onion rings or add tomatoes and cheese to a chicken sandwich I am GUARANTEED to be asked to pull around to the front and wait a few minutes. They have to call corporate HQ and check on it every time...Then from there, they get the order wrong about 70% of the time. not an overstatement. Clockwork. Still keep going back. It's total shit food. What is wrong with me?

SHough610 said...

The Burger King near where I work in Richmond is one of the slowest I've ever been to. When I was a senior in high school I skipped my school lunch to go there. I was late getting back to school without eating the food. It took them twenty minutes to make my food.

Also, I ordered from online from a pizza place and they screwed up my order... Twice. How do you do that?

Aaron C. said...

@Mex -- True story. When Mrs. Bootleg was pregnant, we went to IHOP one evening. She ordered a waffle, but something was wrong with it so she complained. She then ate 3/4 of the "wrong" waffle before they brought out a new one, which she also destroyed.

@Tom -- At the height of my morbidly obese adolescence, I discovered a greasy spoon that served a "Juicy Lucy"-esque stuffed cheeseburger. Glorious. And, one of the reasons I had a 38-inch waist when I was 13.

@Nicka -- In BK's defense, those onion-flavored imitation onion rings and accompanying onion ring sauce are pretty damned addictive.