Review of McDonald’s McTasters Mexican Chipotle Burger & Thai Sweet Chilli Chicken
What they say: THE BEST OF TWO WORLDS. Bright and flavourful like the countries they’re inspired by, the Mexican Chipotle Burger and Thai Sweet Chili Chicken are prepared with delicious flavours.
Price: $2.99 + tax each.
Despite quickly running out of savings as full-time employment continues to elude me, I am nothing if not committed to the burger-reviewing cause. Thankfully, Stephen Dubner believes that McDonald’s offers the “cheapest and most nutritious food in human history”, so after salvaging some coins from the bottom of a fruit bowl – my fruit bowl, I hasten to add; things haven’t got so bad that I’m raiding other people’s change reserves – it was time to give the new McTasters a whirl.
First up, we have the Mexican Chipotle Burger. First thing’s first: both these burgers are pitched as a kind of ‘premium value’ offering, using a standard dollar-menu-sized hamburger with a more upmarket bun, a variety of ‘ethnic’ toppings, and a heftier price tag of $2.99 (plus tax).
For that extra dinero, then, could it be that McDonald’s has scoured the Mexican landscape, bypassing the usual guacamole, pico de galo and tequila, to top their new creation with a complex Oaxacan red mole and a handful of crickets? Absolutely; in the same way that I’m married to Margot Robbie.
Whilst avocado, salsa and agave are all absent, it is the similarly familiar chipotle aioli, jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese and crispy tortilla strips that make up the Mexican numbers here. These crunchy, colourful little strips added a welcome bite of texture but were overly dry in their slightly sad, under-sauced surroundings.
The sauce in question brought only a very slight recognition of heat to the party but would have been pleasant enough had there been a sufficient amount. The lettuce was fresh, although prone to scattering itself overboard with so little of the aioli to cling onto.
I suspect the sesame paprika bun could have survived a nuclear holocaust and it had very little paprika to speak of, so it would be hard to claim that this was any more premium than the standard ‘value’ menu bun. Indeed, you could almost hear the sesame seeds softly weeping that they weren’t afforded a more fitting end, perched atop a Big Mac.
The cheese was more ‘sweaty and disappointing’ that ‘melty and spicy’, but did its job of adding a bit more softness to the sandwich.
How did the Thai Sweet Chilli Chicken fair in comparison?
Let’s start with the good: the chicken coating was seasoned and crispy, and the salad that was actually present was really fresh and crunchy, containing shredded lettuce and cucumber in a pleasant ‘build’. The Thai sweet chilli sauce was an unremarkably familiar but pleasant-enough inclusion at first, clearly ‘close’ friends with the sliced cucumber, however it might have helped had some of the Crisp Asian Vegetables actually found their way onto the bun; as it were, the sweet chilli sauce overpowered the whole burger and became the only flavour on the tongue.
As for the bun, it was no different to the aforementioned paprika sesame disappointment last seen on the Mexican Chipotle burger and ‘paprika’ flavoured to the same extent that my ‘toasted’ panini on BA Flight 1385 was actually toasted; the ingredients genuinely read “chargrilled markings”.
The picture painted here is not a particularly pretty one and for good reason: the McTasters are not worth the extra money you’re paying for them. It may be only a couple of bucks, but when you’re getting the same beef patty as a standard hamburger then neither the toppings nor bun really warrant the higher price tag. If you’re looking for a budget burger then you’re better off sticking with the usual value offerings until an alternative in the range materialises. I’m sure Stephen Dubner would agree.