Quarter Pounder with Cheese

I know what you’re thinking, but bear with me. I realize making a giant fast food restaurant my first review may strain my credibility with some people, but I promise there’s a rationale behind the decision: For most people, McDonald’s is a common denominator.

Have you ever eaten at McDonald’s? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is yes. Maybe you liked the food, maybe you didn’t, but the point is you (probably) know what it tastes like. With that in mind, McDonald’s makes an excellent choice for my first review, because it gives you, me, and everyone else reading this a touchstone for my tastes and how these reviews will work.

Since 1948, McDonald’s has been in the business of serving burgers. At the time of this writing, there are over 36,000 locations worldwide employing a workforce of over 1.9 million people, making McDonald’s the world’s second largest private employer. With such a large and widespread operation, it would be easy to understand if the food was less-than-stellar.

Considering the company’s annual profits measure in the billions, they must be doing something right, and after tasting the food, it’s easy to see why the chain has become ubiquitous.

The Burger

Although the Big Mac is their flagship burger, I chose to eat the Quarter Pounder with Cheese because it’s more like the kinds of burgers I’m going to find at other restaurants, which will make it easier to compare.

Upon opening the box it came in, I was greeted by a cheeseburger that, while decent looking, wasn’t the nicest burger I have ever seen. Peeking out from under the sesame seed bun was a beef patty hugged by two slices of half-melted American cheese. The overall appearance was one of a burger whose constituent parts had all been churned out from some machine somewhere. Although this made it look very “even” and “balanced,” it also didn’t look as appetizing as some burgers I’ve had.

Under the bun was a dollop of ketchup, a few paltry drops of yellow mustard, and some small slivers of onion, the number of which I could count on one hand. The burger typically comes with pickles as well, but I asked these not be included.

The bun was soft, but clearly a couple of days past its prime. It was in that space between fresh and stale.

The burger patty itself was properly cooked. The outside was pleasantly browned, and the inside contained no traces of pink. The patty wasn’t dripping grease, but a close inspection showed a few drops of fat here and there.

The Fries

I’m just going to come out and say it: McDonald’s fries are perfect. Maybe you disagree, and that’s fine, but I’ve eaten a lot of different kinds of fried potatoes in my lifetime, and McDonald’s has the formula nailed down.

My fries were hot, but not so hot I could’t immediately pop a few into my mouth. Their quarter-inch thickness makes them standard fries. They feature an exterior that is crispy without being crunchy, and an interior that is still fluffy. They’re salty and tasty, and just greasy enough to satisfy without making the product soggy.

If I had to say something bad about McDonald’s French fries, it would be that they can be inconsistent. They’re often not the perfect temperature, sometimes they’re over or under-salted, and it’s not uncommon to find some really crunchy ones hiding at the bottom of the carton. But frankly, even at their worst, McDonald’s fries are superior to most.

The Price

For just over $7 (including tax), I was able to get a burger, fries, and a drink. The burger tasted pretty good, the fries were amazing, and the meal as a whole left me feeling satiated without feeling overly full. If I wanted it, I could have eaten dessert without feeling like I had stuffed myself. All things considered, I’d say that’s a pretty good value.

The Restaurant

As I mentioned earlier, McDonald’s has over 36,000 locations and nearly 2 million employees, so it’s tough to judge the company as a whole based on this one visit to a single location. All I can do is to tell you about the location where I ate. It was on the upper South Hill near the Target. It’s one of the updated restaurants, so the exterior and interior both look pretty nice.

I only had to wait a few minutes before my food was ready, but that gave me enough time to look around and see the interior was a bit messy. My table had crumbs, salt, and coffee stains, and appeared only slightly less dirty than the floor. Frankly, it’s par for the course for most fast food restaurants, and in the staff’s defense, they were actively cleaning when they weren’t taking orders or preparing food.

The bathroom was about as clean as the dining room, which is actually a compliment, as I didn’t feel dirty walking in there.

The entire restaurant was well-lit and they were playing inoffensive music.

The service was about what you would expect from a fast food restaurant. The staff was fairly attentive to the customers, and fulfilled whatever requests they could without a hassle.

Also, because McDonald’s is geared toward families, there are often children in the restaurant. This location has a play area, so the kids are usually screaming their heads off in there instead of the main dining room, but it’s not uncommon to have boisterous children all over the restaurant.

If you’re in a hurry, or are looking for a burger and fries that will satisfy, and you don’t want to spend very much money, you could do a lot worse than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonald’s.

As I expected going into it, this is a pretty “middle of the road” burger. It has been designed to appeal to the widest audience possible, and as a result it tastes good without being anything amazing. The biggest let down about this burger was that its flavor was eclipsed by the fantastic taste of the French fries.

By the way, if you want to make McDonald’s-style French fries at home, check out the pioneering work done by Kenji over at Serious Eats. He’s figured out exactly what to do to turn a potato into perfectly fried gold.

McDonald’s Restaurant #17337
4647 S Regal St. Spokane, WA 99203
(509) 443-0895

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Disagree with my review? That's cool, people have different tastes. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me why you think I got this one wrong. But keep your comments civil or they'll get deleted.

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