El Chicken Spicy, McDonald's - Birmingham, UK

Every now and then you just have to have a McDonald's. Whether it's a weekend treat in the early hours that you'll be happy to forget about or a weekday evening after a long day at work. Either way, the accessibility of McDonald's is perhaps more enticing than the food itself, and whilst I do not dislike a trip to ol' Maccy D's, I would not typically opt for a burger there.

Still, I remain impressed at how McDonald's are constantly evolving their image away from that negative processed reputation and more towards locally sourced foods with better quality ingredients. And I think it's noticeable too. I recall eating McChicken nuggets as a child and in comparison to today's product, they are world's apart -- definitely for the better now too.

Despite this, I do not often eat beef products at McDonald's. The quality of the meat and the thickness of the patties are underwhelming, which often leads me down the route of chicken, particularly that dreamy 20 nuggets sharer box -- minus the sharing, of course.

On this particular evening, I did fancy a burger though and spotted the 'El Chicken Spicy' on the menu; two crispy chicken breast strips, Beechwood smoked bacon, Mexican salsa, chilli cheese sauce, jalapeño slices, tomato, lettuce in a cornbread-style bun. On paper, that's a good burger. In reality? We'll see.

McDonald's have improved the visuals of their burgers over time too. Whilst the marketing material always outshines the meal on your tray, it is a lot more reasonable than it used to be. In-fact, my burger looked pretty damn good against the stock image on the board and I was ready to tuck in.

Unfortunately, writing about burger experiences and actively seeking out the best burger joints means these fast food moments are more underwhelming than they used to be. With the 'El Chicken Spicy', this moment was no different. Whilst each component tasted okay, nothing particularly stood out.

The chicken strips were tasty, with much of the flavour derived through the coating over the meat itself. The bacon strips, by comparison, were lacklustre, not adding much in the way of flavour.

In-fact, immediately noticeable was the kick in the taste-buds from the jalapeño slices. Whilst partially soothed by the lettuce and tomato, there was still a heat imbalance in this burger. The salsa and cheese sauce were also both lacking in volume and taste, with the former also adding to the heat kick. The lack of sauce was surprising given many fast food burgers tend to do the opposite and drown their burgers in sauce (typically mayo) in attempt to build flavour.

The 'El Chicken Spicy' is an average burger that I imagine will not be hanging around too long at your local McDonald's. The standard menu choices for chicken burgers are superior to this number, so stick to your Chicken Legend instead. Each element was nothing more than satisfactory with the lack of sauce also hurting the overall taste.

Patty Master Musings:

  • The self-service machines in select McDonald's stores are awesome. This is the future of fast food and McDonald's are brilliant for pushing forward with this technology.
  • Did I Dip It? The barbecue sauce was required after the first few bites. Definitely the best sauce McDonald's produces too...

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