On January 7, McDonald’s Japan started rolling out its new American Vintage menu items , with the first batch inspired by the diners of the 1950s. Our recent taste test of the fast food giant’s Classic Fries with Cheese left us less than impressed, what with a cheese sauce that didn’t taste like cheese and their ineffective “bacon flavored topping,” which McDonald’s is at least kind enough to admit isn’t the genuine article.
Still, the Golden Arches managed to lure us back to give its American Vintage menu another shot with a very persuasive offering. Two very persuasive ones, actually, in the form of the two beef patties in its Diner Double Beef burger.
The aim of McDonald’s American Vintage menu is to capitalize on the nostalgia of the ‘50s, ‘70s, and ‘80s (apparently the 1960s were too turbulent to produce significant burger cravings). Crack open the Diner Double Beef’s box, and you’ll immediately notice it’s a throwback to an era before people worried about their red meat or cholesterol intakes, with two beef patties and a thick fried egg waiting to be devoured.
While the patties appear to be the same as those in an ordinary McDonald’s hamburger, the sandwich is slathered in cheese and a special steak sauce with coarse-ground black pepper, giving it the premium flavor it needs to justify its 370-410 yen (US$3.70-4.10) price tag.
The only vegetables to be found in the sandwich are a few strips of pleasantly firm onion. Our taste tester also came away impressed with the all-wheat bread used for the Diner Double Beef, keeping with the burger’s nostalgia theme by relating the lasting impression the buns left on him like a man waxing poetic about his first girlfriend’s backside.
The burger’s similarities with young love extended beyond the bread. For the first few bites, the flavor of the patties and sauce was glorious. When romance first stirs, it makes everything around it seem better simply by proximity, and even the run-of-the-mill fried egg in the sandwich began to feel like an integral part of our dining experience.
Unfortunately, as we continued eating, monotony began to set in. The almost complete lack of vegetables means that there’s hardly any complexity or interplay of flavors in the sandwich, and with each bite the taste that had initially enchanted us became less and less pleasing.
To its credit, the sandwich makes a great quick fix for those hungry times when all you want is to get filled up, and fast. The lack of variety, though, means we couldn’t see ourselves committing long-term to the Diner Double Beef. Since it comes with two patties, we suppose you could share it with another person, but frankly we appreciate the mutual respect and trust that can only come from exclusivity in the relationship between man and food.
We’ll always have the bittersweet memories of our first happy bites, but in the end, we had to tell the Diner Double Beef it was time for us to start seeing other burgers.
[ Read in Japanese ]