Burger Archive

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No-Bull Burger Purist, born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

*READER REVIEW* - Burger King, West Caldwell, NJ - The A1 Half Pound Burger

Here is a no-holds-barred review from "O", a friend and fellow burger lover. I sent him to Burger King to sample their self acclaimed, "Half Pound" burger, The A1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger.
What a mistake, but I'll let O tell the story...  
(yes, his name is "O", James Bond has "M" - I can have "O", the anonymous burger guy)

My good friend Billy asked me to join him in tasting the new Burger King A1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger for lunch.  We work far apart from each other so I went to the Burger King in West Caldwell NJ while he ate at the Park Ridge, NJ location.  I am excited to deliver my first Guest Burger Blog for Billy who loves burgers like no man or beast I have ever met.  So here goes:
First I must explain that my relationship with Burger King is a long one.  I grew up in Cedar Grove, NJ and a Burger King was opened on Route 23 in town sometime in the mid to late 1970’s.  Back then that was a big freaking deal and we loved it.  The smell of that broiler wafting into the air across from St. Catherine's Church and when I was in church this was a real problem for me. 
My ultimate favorite fast food burger is a Whopper with Cheese, hands-down.  There's absolutely nothing that I'd replace on that burger except occasionally there's too much ketchup (and like Billy - I'm a fan of NFK so too much ketchup "aka TMFK" is no good).  But most of the time the combo of broiled burger along with a perfect combo of onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo sliding together with the proper amount of ketchup on a seeded bun (yeah!)...that's the best fast food burger there is.  And if you don't get cheese on are just plain weird.  Extra cheese please...and hold the weirdo.
Fast forward to 1982 and my good friend Jude gets me a job at BK.  I'm in heaven.  I worked the broiler, there were a lot of fun guys there and we really just had a blast.  I was absolutely not interested in work....only in fun, food and seeing our friends come in to eat. And most importantly...driving our manager insane. So my blog today is in memory of my manager Erik who now, 32 years later, I can say...yes Eric, it was me who filled your coat pockets with Ketchup.  Sorry about that, but watching you go crazy was worth it.
On to the burger…
First, I don't like 1/2 pound burgers, they are too much.  I'd rather have two smaller burgers than one big one.  I walked into Burger King today and asked for the 1/2 lb. burger.  The "waitress" said "huh?" and after calling Billy to confirm, I ordered the A1 Ultimate.
I prefer classic burgers - Onion, lettuce, tomato, cheese (of course), and I'm a big fan of mayo on a burger.  This thing is way outside of what I'd ever order so I'm skeptical but still have an open mind.
I unwrapped the burger and I knew right away it sat in the steamer for a while.  Strike one. (See pic below - rubber meat - yuck)
I then took a bite and got a taste of very sweet A1 - not your regular A1 but a cheaper, sweeter version that I could only picture in some colostomy bag in the kitchen with a squeeze tube on it.  My impression - way too sweet, something is wrong.  Strike 2.
After 2 bites I knew I was in trouble.  I had just spent $10.05 on the burger with "medium" fries and drink.  At BK, the fries are medium and the drink could have Shamu the Whale swim in it with room left over.  Ridiculous drink size.  The combo of A1 sauce and bacon tasted like it was cooked 6 hours ago and sat out, plus onion and cheese and nothing else was just awful  Major Strike 3.  It looked and smelled bad, had sweet sauce on it, and the combination of the whole thing was like it was put together by a bunch of idiots with no taste buds.   
I will give a major shout out though, to the drink selection at BK - I had a Mello Yello.  Awesome, although 3 gallons for a medium cup is a bit too much.
The only thing good was the bun.  Perfect burger/bun ratio, had good taste and wasn't stale.  That's how low the bar is on this thing...I liked the bun the best.

Final Grade = Epic Crap Fail.  I beg you to never order this burger. could this happen?  BK, McDonald's, and others are completely under siege from the fast/casual crowd of 5 Guys, Smash Burger and others (west coast fans - In and Out is the best).  Burger King has a great brand, and fun things for kids (who doesn't like it when you see kids eating with their Burger King crown on - that's awesome) and they broil their burgers. I Love it.  But overall, most every store is outdated, filthy, and now they are just throwing crap like this burger out there.
What I say to BK and McDonald's is this - you live by the sword, you die by the sword.  You put literally thousands of Mom and Pop businesses out of business when you were growing and now due to your corporate stupidity you can't compete with these other companies who are charging only a fraction more than you and delivering a high quality product in a beautiful atmosphere.  So tell your suits in corporate to enjoy their last few months (or years) employed because they all suck and will be unemployed when people continue flocking to the better product in a nicer setting. 
I told Billy I should have thrown the burger down and ordered a Whopper with Cheese but I wasn't giving them any more money.  And to think I drove past a Smash Burger, Wendy's, and (please God forgive me) a Jimmy Buffs hot dogs.  Sad.
Pics below.  

O's pics from the BK in West Caldwell, NJ...

"O", the burger guy 

Here are my pics of the A1 from the BK in Park Ridge NJ.... I ordered mine "off the broiler" so although a crappy burger overall,  it was not quite an "epic, crap, fail"... One more thing, O nailed it, the bun was freakin awesome! I'd like to ask for a Whopper on that thing next time....



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