30 April, 2008

The New Burger King Steakhouse Burger

Burger King introduced another new burger to their menu recently. Thanks to a buy-one-get-one-free coupon in the paper last week, my daughter and I tried out the new Steakhouse Burger.

Burger King advertises it as "Angus Beef, melted cheese, crispy onions, lettuce and tomatoes, all smothered in A-1 Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce." Their model burger (pictured in the photo at left) shows the idealized presentation, and it certainly is enough to make your mouth water. Too bad the reality doesn't come anywhere near that lovely fantasy.

To be fair, no one expects the real-life burger to look anything like the pictures, but you should be aware of a couple of really significant differences: For one thing, Burger King really doesn't use curly leaf lettuce as a rule. They use whatever they can get most cheaply, and around here that means iceburg lettuce that's been roughly cut to fit. And there are no red tomatoes in New England in April, so our burgers were topped with two sad-ass slices of barely pink flavorless things that resembled tomatoes if you squinted from three feet away. You can pretty much forget about the big handful of "crispy onions" promised in the advertising, too. You'll be lucky to get the barest sprinkling of fried onion straws and they will likely be found in a tiny puddle of A-1 sauce. It adds up to a kind of slapped-together oversized gimmicburger that probably isn't going to be on the menu for very long (not too surprising, actually, since Burger King holds the record for largest number of failed sandwiches introduced and then later quietly dropped from their menu.)

But the strangest - and most offputting - thing about the Steakhouse Burger is the meat. Burger King says it's made with Angus Beef, and that may be true, but by the time it goes through their processing and into your mouth it's barely recognizable. My daughter and I noticed it with the very first bite: the meat is spongy and feels almost artificial. There's a weird "enhanced" flavor to it as well - we identified it as related to the "Grill Flavoring" found in many other processed foods. A quick trip over to Burger King's website reveals the reason for the strange taste and mouthfeel of the meat - the ingredients listed are: Beef, Encapsulated Salt (Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil), Flavorings, Beef Fat, Beef Stock, Dextrose. Every other burger on BK's menu has only one ingredient: "100% USDA inspected Ground Beef (Fire-Grilled)." Why did they think they needed such an overprocessed patty for the Steakhouse Burger?

As tempting as the Steakhouse Burger may look in the ads, it really isn't worth the price. The garbage pile of flavors compete with rather than compliment one another, and the "salty bouillon sponge" taste of the beef will give you the impression that Burger King is trying to dress up a substandard patty rather than provide an actual high-quality "Angus" product. If you have a hankering for a Burger King burger, you'd be far better off with a Whopper or a Stacker - at least then you can be sure of getting unadulterated 100% ground beef.

Burger King's website
Burger King's Ingredient Listings

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