Bianca: When McDonalds came a knockin and offered us the chance to build our own burger at the newly opened Thornleigh Burger Bar, who were we to pass that opportunity up? I basically consider this my greatest achievement in life, sorry future children.
In all seriousness, I was aware of McDonalds shift to a more interactive and high-end stance towards burgers and how we eat them. With my former hood Castle Hill becoming the test run for the ‘create your taste’ experience, where patrons can literally build their desired burger on a touch screen away from the main counter. Five patties? Sure, eight pieces of cheese? No problem!! Combinations are limitless.
I won’t lie – I don’t eat McDonalds anymore. In the last four years I’ve had it twice and both were out of convenience than out of any desired wants. I do love my burgers but these days I will happily pay a premium for an elevated ‘gourmet’ burger, which is the market McDonalds are now trying to tap into.
To say I was a little sceptical was a HUGE understatement – so we rocked up in our provided hire car limousine and stepped into the newly pimped out McDonalds. One thing we were surprised by was the distinct lack of signage within the store – minus the branded logos on the ordering boards. Very interesting!
Staff members tend to float around and help those a little overwhelmed by the new ordering concept. Seyed, a friendly McDonald’s employee, expertly guided us through our experience and I’ll confess, I was enjoying it far more than I care to admit.
The notion is a great one – maybe you do want a gourmet burger but you find yourself at McDonalds and that perception still sits at the back of your mind, will it alleviate those thoughts of burger purists and snobs? Probably not but they sure are trying.
Vanessa was pleased to see the option of a lettuce ‘bun’ for those eager to watch their figures….people you’re at McDonalds, there’s your problem! Clearly we did not take up that option. At this stage they currently offer a range of 30 or so ingredients, including brioche buns, guacamole, crispy bacon and tortilla strips. As well as the option to add as many vegetable options as you desire at no extra cost.
Keen to read our thoughts on our individual burgers? Read on….
Vanessa: McDonalds for me has always had one purpose and one purpose only – to compensate for an overly indulgent drinking session or post there of. It has always been my go to choice when in need of something to “soak up alcohol”, so when asked to go and experience the Thornleigh Burger Bar, I questioned whether I needed to bring a hip flask along! Like Bianca I was also a little skepitcal of what to expect but have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised by the experience and the quality of the burger. One of the most impressive things, besides the interactive ordering process, is the burger bar itself. With fresh ingredients displayed as well as a clear view of the cooking process, the focus is very much on transparency.
As Bianca mentioned, I was a tad excited by the option to have a bunless burger by way of a lettuce leaf, however I was quickly talked out of that option. I chose the bakery bun, with a beef pattie, shaved parmesan,sliced swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, crispy bacon and caramelised onions. I chose the crinkle cut fries and a side of big mac sauce . My first thought was that it tasted almost healthy, quite different to the usual McDonald’s burgers. The ingredients were very fresh and definitely erred more on the side of cafe quality burger than that of fast food chains.
The presentation of the burger and fries on a serving plate with no visible branding could almost let you forget that you are eating a McDonalds burger ( well minus the distinct Big Mac sauce that is) . In a nutshell, the Thornleigh Burger Bar and Create Your Taste is revolutionising the McDonalds experience as we have always known it. This concept store represents a new era for McDonalds products and it will be interesting to see how people respond to it.
Alex: Like my fellow FFSaker’s it’s fair to say that I was indeed surprised by the distinct lack of brand awareness that the burger bar has.
McDonalds has always been a reminder of my childhood, when I would go through drive through with my mum and getting happy meals. To it now, (much like Vanessa) becoming a fun haven where myself and friends and up at 3 in the morning, wanting nothing more than a quarter pounder with fries.
My burger was 2 beef patties, 2 slices of cheese, lettuce, avocado, tortilla chips, caramelised onion and red onion on a brioche bun. First and foremost I thoroughly enjoyed the texture of the tortilla chips as it is nothing that I ever experienced with a McDonalds burger but…as I say that, it’s all well and good to have great add ons but ultimately it all comes down to the patty, which is nothing but processed meat. The burger lacked finesse and I think for a product that is coming across as gourmet, it needs to be perfected. Definitely a great idea though and I probably would go back.
PS. I think a great addition to the create your taste menu would be to add chips into the burger and then melt the cheese over the chips…just sayin’!
Bianca: None of that frou frou crap for me. I’ve now streamlined my burger eating experiences to exclude most forms of foliage. I had a brioche bun, 2 beef patties, bacon, pickles, American cheese, cheddar cheese, (an accidental beetroot slice which was promptly binned) big mac sauce and aioli. My first bites were more akin to “Well this doesn’t taste like McDonalds” which is probably the best reaction they were ever going to get from me. All the ingredients barring the patties tasted top-notch, you’re thinking “you didn’t get much besides the meat!” and therein lied my problem. Mine was virtually all McDonalds processed patties and while they are still relatively tasty to eat, when you have been eating house made patties from restaurants/cafes for the last 4-5 years it was an experiment set up to fail from the get go. I guess the question to answer would be: “Would I go back?”. I would but seeing as there are no create your taste concept stores near me I certainly wouldn’t be travelling for one. I do find it interesting that the majority of concept stores are based away from most metro areas. I would have thought a trial in Sydney CBD or the Inner West would have been a smart move. Unless the idea was to create a sort of ‘destination McDonalds’.
We did question whether they would be introducing more ‘proteins’ into the Create Your Taste fold and word is, chicken is in the pipeline. I’d also like to see a veggie patty make an appearance.
It will be interesting to see just how sustainable the ‘Create Your Taste’ concept lasts, most people heading to McDonalds have a preconceived idea of what they’re going there for – my go to was always the classic Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder. So whether people are interested in embracing change and building their own ‘Bianca-Mac’ as I dubbed my creation is another story entirely.
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake were invited to try theThornleigh Burger Bar/Create your taste by McDonalds. All opinions however are individual and our own.