Having recently eaten through much of the menu at McDonald’s in Hong Kong, it made me realize McDonald’s was like music, film, or another form of pop culture—some of it exported from America worldwide, with the remaining filled with local stars and catered for local tastes. Like, Beyonce is a megastar in India, but so is Honey Singh.
There are plenty of dishes from McDonald’s outside the U.S. that Americans have never heard about, and there is a novel allure in learning about the El Gigante in Germany or the McPicanha in Brazil. Recently, McDonald’s USA added four new items from what they’re calling it Worldwide Favorites menu. Not coincidentally, The Takeout staff ate McDonald’s for lunch today.
Oh yes. Vanilla soft serve gets mixed in with caramel sauce and crumbled bits of Stroopwafel from Daelmans, which is to Stroopwafel what Heinz is to ketchup. There’s notes of cinnamon, toffee, Biscoff cookies in the McFlurry, but the real pleasures comes from the crunchy-gooey dynamic from the Stroopwafel bits. This is a winner.
When these Cheesy Bacon Fries first appeared at the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago, we jumped at the chance to sample it. We did not like it then, and unfortunately we don’t like it now. The first problem is logistical—the window to consume these fries is just too short, and made shorter here by the fact they’re steaming inside the container (as opposed to an open-topped fries sleeve). Moreover, the cheese is gloppy and the bacon only offers the barest hint of baconness, mostly salt.
We’ve written about how McDonald’s new fresh-not-frozen beef has improved its Quarter Pounder with Cheese markedly. This menu item from Spain, remarkably, improves on that underrated cheeseburger. First is the two slices of gouda, which adds more of an aesthetic appeal than flavor, which is subtle but tastes more “sophisticated.” I enjoy the non-flimsy bacon and the crunchy raw onion slivers, but it’s the unfortunately named Smoky McBacon sauce that’s the standout. It’s a tangy, smoky aioli that should immediately be sold separately and served as a French fries dip.
Among the taste-testers who sampled this, the most common refrain was “boring.” (Disclaimer, we ordered the grilled chicken version; there’s also a fried cutlet option.) The brioche-looking bun delivers less butteriness than you’d hope, the vegetables are a non-factor, and the mozzarella-covered white meat chicken tastes like something offered at a three-star hotel restaurant. The tomato and herb sauce adds a sweetness to the sandwich, but otherwise it’s unremarkable.