Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The Food Junket Report: Burger King Unveils its New Broiler to Food Snobs

THE XTEven the biggest food snob has to admit that at one point or another, either out of convenience, drunkenness, or lack of other options, he is going to eat fast food. And while I myself have no shame in admitting that I am a bit of a fast food connoisseur, in light of the most recent invention of the new Burger King broiler, I might claim that even the snobbiest foodie (they hate being called that!) could feel at home at their local Burger King.

On this particular rainy Tuesday afternoon, a number of writers from the Daily News, the New York Post, GQ, Gawker, assorted food blogs and, inexplicably, myself were ushered in past a velvet rope (seriously) outside of a Burger King in beautiful midtown Manhattan by Penn Station to learn all about BK's new "secret weapon," a brand new broiler that would change the way fast food was perceived, made, and consumed (again, seriously).

Honestly, the sincerity with which they presented the whole thing, the way they believed in the broiler and what it was capable of, made the whole Burger King team of high level executives really seem amiable. At one point Burger King's Top Chef of Innovation (not to be confused with America's current Top Chef Michael Voltaggio) came by to explain to us the strength of new broiler: the fact that the new broiler offered the same flame broiled heat from the bottom that America currently loves (which is how there are grill marks), but also a serious amount of heat from the top to provide a char that was prevalent on everything on the menu, while also causing the meat to be cooked from the outside in, rather than inside out as is the case with other methods of fast food cooking.

So what was served? First was a list of existing or soon to exist Burger King items:

• The Whopper – I mean, what else would they start with? The flagship of Burger King hamburgers, this guy was pretty much what you'd expect him to be.

• A.1. Steakhouse XT (pictured) – Called the "XT" by those in the biz (that would be the people explaining the burger to us), this was a pretty serious hamburger that was SEVEN OUNCES of beef (WTFOMFG), topped with mayo, crispy onions, A1 "Thick & Hearty" steak sauce, American cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. The crispy onions added a crunchy texture that was a good way to imitate/offer an alternative to the salty crustiness that you get on the beef from a burger at Shake Shack-my gold standard of hamburgers.

NOT A MCRIB • BK Fire-Grilled Ribs – This was probably my personal highlight of the meal, these St. Louis style, still on the bone char-broiled ribs came three in a box with a side of BBQ sauce. According to the Top Chef of Innovation these take 5 minutes to cook in the new broiler and are coming to the menu soon. It's definitely a departure from standard fast food fare, and you can really see the top heat from the broiler add some serious, delicious, crusty char to this thing.

• BK Fresh Apple Fries – Now these weren't done in the broiler, but they're still pretty great! It's an apple that's cut to look like a fry (and it really does, kind of freaky/weird!?) that you dip in a low-fat caramel sauce. [Ed. Note: A WUT sauce???] This is apparently going to be offered as a not-fried alternative in kids meals!

The next round of things were items that would probably never make it on a BK menu but were intended to showcase the abilities of the new broiler-they referenced this multiple times as their "car show" moment. I've never been to a car show so I'm not quite sure what they meant.

0bk3• Filet Mignon (pictured) – YEP! So this sliced filet was a dry-aged tenderloin, flame-broiled (OBVS), served with a Port Demi-glace, pearl onions, and baby portobello mushrooms. Presumably Burger King is not going to start offering this on their menu, and really, it's probably okay if they don't. It was fine and all-my plate was clean, and I'm impressed by the broiler, but it's kind of hard to prepare a filet the way you really want it done in a Burger King kitchen, which is where all of this stuff was cooked.

• Mixed Grill – This was a combo plate of chorizo, pork tenderloin, rib eye and organic chicken with a romesco sauce. This was probably the low light of the meal for me, the meats seemed dry and pretty meh, and I mean, I love chorizo (lol, Cho-rizo?!) but I don't hold this against Burger King. I don't foresee myself ever going there for a plate of mixed meats served in a various ways, one of those ways being alongside a romesco sauce.

SMOREEEE• S'mores (pictured) – The last offering was a desert that was just pretty much a deconstructed S'more. Charred, smokey, marshmallow, on top of this is pretty rich and delicious tasting graham cracker and chocolate thing. I'm not super into sweets, but if you don't find the Momofuku Milkbar cookies and pie to be too sweet (which I do), then this is probably right up your alley.

So there you have it, Burger King has a new broiler with which they can prepare a whole variety of things that, if you like fast food are, in some ways, a cut above the rest of the fast food landscape.

David Cho is the publisher of The Awl and he eats a LOT. The Awl has no financial arrangements with Burger King or its parent company Burger King Holdings Corporation.

76 Comments / Post A Comment

johnpseudonym (#1,452)

Meh. Have it your way.

Sorry, but I don't put anything lacking butter flavor crystals in this baby. NO SALE.

katiebakes (#32)

What did they give you to wash all this down with? Did you use the soda fountains or did they have waiters serving you snifters of apple fry brandy at the end of the meal?

David Cho (#3)

I had two cups of Sprite from the soda fountain.

dado (#102)

The Corner Bistro laughs.

C_Webb (#855)

The burger in the top picture looks like it wants to say something.

alison (#14)


Tuna Surprise (#573)

I bet those apple fries would taste better if they dripped them into the deep fryer for a few minutes…just to crisp em up. Same goes for the caramel dipping sauce.

Bittersweet (#765)

Wouldn't they get all mushy instead of crispy?

David Cho (#3)

Also, Asian fail: could those pictures be any less food porny? A much better Asian would have had their SLR ready to snap some much sexier pics.

Flashman (#418)

The iPhone does have pretty poor bokeh.

David Cho (#3)

Yeah but I am using a BLACKBERRY, so, even worse.

maebefunke (#154)

You should have taken MHKCHoi with you. Why wasn't she invited?

David Cho (#3)

A boy can dream.

So basically they found the "Self-clean" option on the oven?

Ribs (#2,690)

Odd, but, i'm all for fast food embracing the Manifest Destiny of Taste doctrine. BK espesh.
Also, Cho Rizo should be a Flo Rida collaborator.

Moff (#28)

I think the car show thing is that auto makers develop models (there's a simple name for them, which always escapes me) that are decidedly not for regular production because they're too awesome and therefore expensive. But they make them to show off what they can do, and put them on display at the big car shows at the Javits and elsewhere.

Moff (#28)

Concept car is what they're called.

Mary HK Choi (#1,469)

BAAAAAAARRRGH! They have drive-thru ribs. Nothing else matters. They win. WINNER. FUCK EVERYTHING ELSE. RIBS. Bong! Game over. Ice cream and cake.

David Cho (#3)

…and cake.

maebefunke (#154)

So is Chile's fucked?

johnpseudonym (#1,452)

Chile's been fucked since Pinochet.

(I can't stop LOLing.)

gregorg (#30)

hah, I happen to have had just such a giant, smoked cheddar something-or-other burger at Burger King yesterday. I watched through the drivethrough window as the lady put the final, fresh/hot/melty touch on it by throwing it into the microwave.

Also, McDonald's has been offering oddly abraded apple slices with caramel-flavored dipping sauce as part of Happy Meals for several years now. At least as long as fatherhood has thrust me into the Happy Meal market.

Onjay (#2,679)

I believe they treat the apple slices with something that means they'll NEVER go bad, however long you leave them in the back seat of your SUV. They'll outlast fucking Twinkies. Great for the kids, too.

"Bring me a hearty portion of your Apple MacSlices with Embalming Sauce, rude serving wench, and step on it."

KarenUhOh (#19)

Burger King apparently was tipped to what today's media are being paid.

So is this BK's answer to the Time profile of McDonald's Top Chef? Entitled, yes, "McDonald's Has a Chef?")

dailyny (#3,326)

Just give me that marshmellowly-looking thing and we'll forget this ever happened.

Flashman (#418)

This reminds me that I did in fatto make a homemade version of that McItaly burger that was posted here a while back, the one with asiago dip. And I'm actually making some again right this minute – I had some ground beef to use up in the freezer (moving).

if it's moving it wasn't ground up enough :(

kneetoe (#1,881)

That sad sound you hear in the distance? That's the city of St. Louis, crying.

Syan Reacrest (#891)

Can't enjoy this with American Apparel judging me from the side.

maebefunke (#154)

That bitch in the disco pants is the worst.

C_Webb (#855)

The puppy is nice, although I want to rescue it from the hipsters.

Bittersweet (#765)

Are you kidding? Body suit ass cheeks FTL.

ericdeamer (#945)

Adblock plus everyone!

adriana (#1,654)

FOR REALS. I love Adblock Plus!

Ken Layne (#262)

Honestly, anyone crowing about using an ad-blocking filter to read an independent blog run by a couple of broke free-lancers … well, that person should be put through Burger King's new broiler, and served to Cho with lo-fat dipping sauce.

What is it about an advertisement that makes certain people get so Free Tibet on the fucking Internet? You realize that ad is paying about a tenth of a penny to the people who provide the very Internet site you're reading and using to comment about how you block the ads on said site, right?

Do people like you rip out all the ads from a newspaper or magazine before reading it? Is it a ritual of some kind? Do you rip up your paychecks every week, too, just to be awesome?

Nicely said.

garge (#736)

To be honest, I have started using Adblock Plus at work because of the American Apparel ads. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment, but had to step out when the T&A didn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

I make up for it by running my CPU into the ground, leaving twelve Awl tabs up at home to auto-refresh with a screen saver set to neverever.

Syan Reacrest (#891)

Oh man, I love the American Apparel ads. I probably wouldn't come here if I didn't get to check out some naked guys and girls. I wouldn't dare use adblocking, I'm to afraid I'll miss something really good. Like a new Butterfinger one (on that note, the anniversary of the Awl should totally run some throwback butterfingers or Paul Blart ads).

dailyny (#3,326)

Boycotting American Apparel's loathsome ads is a different discussion than adblocking The Awl. Someone needs to slap that dude into understanding they are disgusting. Until then, when I need a V-neck track shirt, I'm going to Uniqlo.

dailyny (#3,326)

um, 'that dude' being the AA CEO. Of course.

tunamelt (#2,669)

They have apple fries now. Or they do in LA. And usually they are soggy as hell.

David Cho (#3)

Mine today were, CRISPY.

Zack (#2,609)

The Awl has no financial arrangements with Burger King or its parent company Burger King Holdings Corporation.

Nope. No financial arrangements at all.

Zack (#2,609)

Just kidding – I realize that's a google ad. Just gave me grins.

I would complain about this and blogger ethics…if I weren't enjoying this Bacon Double Cheeseburger right this second!

I cannot keep my silence any longer.


David Cho (#3)

Let's be real, that second day you're mentioning has already come and gone hasn't it?

if the cat litter comes with a side of Friskies I may consider it

kneetoe (#1,881)

I'm disturbed by your choice of the adjective "food" to describe this product. And at least in theory there is a chance that more than one so-called food product is being reviewed here, so the plural might, and I stress MIGHT, be warranted.

God, I just got kind of hungry and now this looks tempting.

Ok, I have an epic-curious question: what say you to In-N-Out Double Doubles? Because really? In-N-Out on the East Coast would solve most of my problems.*

*Not really but since it's never gonna happen I like to think so.

belltolls (#184)

The perfect food. I love them so much that when I get off a plane in LA (please Burbank) I go directly to In-N-Out…because that's what a hamburger is all about. Also there is no In-N-Out near where they say there is in the Big Lebowski.

Ken Layne (#262)

Don't eat any of this shit, as it is actually shit (cow feces) and gristle with a little bit of e.coli for seasoning. DO NOT EAT THESE THINGS, and DO NOT USE ADBLOCK, come on, for fuck's sake.

Goes well with Shardonnay.

gregorg (#30)

Are these megaburgers made with the same ammonia-tainted "pink slime" additive from Beef Products, Inc. that the regular burgers have, the one profiled so disgustingly in the NY Times last month?

(I can't stop LOLing.)

That was @ Choire. Who gave me a case of the giggles that's lasted at least as long as whatever gastric distress David has been suffering.

Onjay (#2,679)

I may soon need to vomit, and I'm not even on a cruise.

Snobby foodie that I am, I can guaran-fucking-tee that I will NEVER feel at home in a Burger King, even if their broilers were autographed by Jeremy Steingarten himself.

I remember when the fastest food there was could be found at the Horn & Hardart Automat on Broadway and 14th St.

Don't fucking tell me things are getting better. They're not.

KeithTalent (#2,014)

Is Jeremy the snobbier, lesser known brother of Jeffrey?

Rod T (#33)

The Awl – Eat More Lipids.

cinetrix (#47)

Ahem, *Jeffrey* Steingarten. As you were.

Clip Arthur (#2,024)

Back in high school, I went to Burger King and Wendy's like crazy. And for shits (foreboding) and giggles I decided to grab a Whopper when I was in midtown a few years back.

People might give me shit (get it!) for eating better and being a member of a reviled food co-op (Park Slope), but nothing repaired my stomach faster than eating the organic goodness of the stuff there after that there thing happened at Burger King.

simonlcupcake (#515)

I'm sorry, but that burger in the photo looks like it's made of 5 different kinds of fake char and 100 different kinds of wallowing-in-their-own-filth cheap ass factory farmed meat. I am over it.
Unless it's 3 am and I'm drunk, and then maybe I'll make some seriously questionable excuses and get a delicious and meat-based meal from any of a hundred places that aren't BK.

HiredGoons (#603)

Wow, this recession is getting bad.

Flashman (#418)

"How do you like your Helper, Clark?"

spikenard (#3,522)

For some reason I'm so disturbed by the fact that they made you fillet mignon in BK. It's like sitting in the abandoned seats of a 1960's bus terminal that American Airlines uses on its planes and then, as the plasticky shit smelling food rolls out on its cart, a nubile 17 year old boy angel from renaissance Florence with candy pink fluffy wings sprouting from his manly back turns up and begins gently serenading you on a harp of transcendental sorrow and beauty while you drink orange juice out of a small plastic thing. It just seems so passive aggressive – here's what could be, but never will because the universe is broken.

Robyn Lee (#3,689)

I don't know about you, but that burger left me with smoke-flavored burps ALL DAY LONG (and I think I only ate a quarter of it). No other burger has ever done that before. Aaand…yeah, methinks I will never eat one again.

But I'd totally go for another marshmallow square of 500% sugary goodness.

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