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Carls Jr The Big Carl?

m
malibumike Aug 20, 2009 09:13 AM

Anybody try the Carls Jr The Big Carl yet. It is a knock off of McD's Big mac but with twice the meat and cheese for 50 cents to a buck lower in price.

  1. ipsedixit Aug 20, 2009 10:45 AM

    Looks like a poor imposter to me. The Big Carl is missing the middle bun layer -- seems like a better facsimile of the McDonald's Quarter Pounder since the double patty in the Big Carl adds up to 7 ounces of meat, or thereabouts.

    1. d
      dmcole Aug 20, 2009 03:12 PM

      Had one for lunch today. The meat was even more over-done than Carl's normally is, leaving it crispy both on the inside and the outside. Cheese is normal Carl's cheese. The iceberg came as a leaf, not shredded like Micky-D's and the sauce wasn't as good as in the Big M. Despite that, I did actually like it better than the Big M and it is definitely about 25 percent more food than a Big M. They really need to work on the sauce, though.

      YMMV.

      1. m
        malibumike Aug 21, 2009 01:25 PM

        I have to agree with YMMV the sauce is just basic thousand island dressing, McDees tarts up their sauce somehow and it is better, the lettuce should be shredded and they should add pickles. I believe the object was to wean away big mac lovers to CJ's version but it tastes nothing like a big mac. I was disapointed only in that it wasn't even close to a big mac but for $2.49 you get a lot more for your money. Double the cheese and 7oz of meat vs. big mac's 3.2oz.

        1 Reply
        1. re: malibumike
          PommeDeGuerre Apr 21, 2012 01:56 AM

          Just ask them to add pickles and onions. They will do it no questions asked (and no charge).

        2. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Aug 21, 2009 08:05 PM

          At least they didn't call it the Hot Carl.

          2 Replies
          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
            EWSflash Aug 21, 2009 08:09 PM

            Thank you for saying that and relieving me of the compulsion to.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
              d
              drumbago Aug 27, 2009 09:57 AM

              Exactly!

              If it's supposed to be a bigger/better version of the 'Big Mac' - it totally fails IMHO. It's missing the middle bun, no sesame seed bun, it's overcooked (as all Carls burgers are), the lettuce is a whole piece instead of shredded, and their thousand island sauce is missing something. It doesn't even taste/feel at all similar to the Big Mac even though it's bigger and cheaper.

            2. p
              Pitou Aug 22, 2009 01:00 PM

              I'm not the biggest fan of McDonald's. Sure, it's a fast food institution but I usually leave thinking, "never again!". In contrast, truly fresh burgers like those from In N Out have always been favorites of mine.

              Anyway, I had high hopes for the Big Carl. Sounded like a Big Mac, only better, right? After all, you get superior meat, more cheese, and a larger size....for less money! So you fix the flaws of the Big Mac (such as awfully thin patties and low-grade quality) while preserving the Big Mac's strengths (such as a distinctive & familiar taste).

              I'm sad to report the Big Carl is a dud. It's not awful or anything, but it totally lacks any BigMac-ness, if you will. There is almost zero resemblance. Problems:

              1) The #1 problem is the sauce. Big Mac sauce has a very distinctive flavor that defines the burger. It's what makes it work. The Big Carl sauce may as well be mayonnaise. You can't really taste it. Maybe they're not using enough, but it definitely doesn't have the same tang and flavor of the Big Mac. It's weak as hell.

              2) The lettuce. Big Mac lettuce comes in little strips and somehow preserves its crunchiness....again, you can taste it. The Big Carl had a hot & soggy layer of lettuce below. Again, because it was hot and droopy, you couldn't really even taste it. For example, In N Out Burger, which uses layers of lettuce, usually presevres the crunch and flavor.

              3) The meat tastes exactly like Burger King meat. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but makes it feel like you're eating a Whopper (minus the tomato). Again, this detracts from the BigMac-ness of the burger. I never realized that the piece-of-crap patties that McDonald's uses may, in some strange way, actually be a strength. Maybe it helps you taste other ingredients, like the sauce and the lettuce, more precisely because the meat is so bland and nondescript. Weird. However, I can't really blame them for this, so this isn't really a huge negative for the Carl.

              The verdict is that the Big Carl makes an implicit promise to be, "like the Big Mac, only better". It promises the best of both worlds:

              A) Big Mac style flavor
              B) Improvements on McD's weak points (eg, cheap meat, size)

              The problem is that the Carl totally delivers on point B, but fails miserably on point A. It improves on Big Mac's weaknesses, but fails to duplicate Big Mac's strengths (such as the great sauce). It's strongest attributes are that it's more filling and the price point, but I prefer to focus on taste.

              Overall, I was very disappointed and don't recommend it if you're expecting anything resembling the Big Mac. The Big Carl is a fantastic idea that was poorly executed. Can't believe I'm siding with McDonald's on this one. HOWEVER...the 6 dollar burgers stomp all over the Big Mac, though (as does the double double from In N Out). The Big Carl should have come with the angus patties from its 6-dollar brethren and a MUCH better sauce.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Pitou
                r
                RCTRIPLEFRESH5 Aug 23, 2009 08:46 PM

                then they couldnt have charged 2.49 though. i dont know why everyone loves the big mac anyway. i always get the angus bacon and cheese. i have BOGO coupons so a 1/4 angus burger costs over 2 dollars with tax i get 2 for 4.69 dollars.

                1. re: Pitou
                  b
                  bbison Aug 26, 2009 03:35 PM

                  Pitou has it right--the sauce is all wrong, and the wet, wimpy lettuce (at least on mine) made the whole burger a slip-and-slide experience. It's reminiscent of BK's Big Mac clone (the Big King?) years ago.

                  McD's should offer what a couple of locations near me used to: the MegaMac (made w./ 2 QP patties. Good stuff!

                  I'm one-and-done with this one; there are much better things on their menu.

                  1. re: Pitou
                    rworange Nov 25, 2009 12:51 PM

                    I always thought the neutralness of the McDonalds patty was one thing that made it work well. Then I did a side by side comparison with BK, and ack in the Box. Surprisingly the McDonalds burger is slightly seasoned.

                  2. r
                    RCTRIPLEFRESH5 Aug 26, 2009 05:11 PM

                    i tried the big mac once and never went back to it. with that being said id like to see how the big carl compares to the angus third pounders ive been living on.

                    1. j
                      joedaark Nov 22, 2009 09:58 PM

                      I tried it on two days ago (Friday) and today (Sunday). On Friday, I wasn't impressed, the beef was too charred, not enough sauce, too much lettuce. Today, Sunday, it was simply amazing. The beef was just right and meshed excellent with the cheese, there was more sauce on it actually giving the whole burger flavor and then some and the portion of lettuce was just right. The combo is 4.49 with fries and a Coke is an excellent deal AND YOU GET A GIFT CARD that can be for $1-$100. I got $1 both times but using the card next time, makes the combo $3.49 or you can get something else and use it towards that.

                      1. t
                        TomSwift Nov 25, 2009 11:47 AM

                        I tried one today and will not repeat. I ordered no cheese (is it really cheese?) , heavy onions, mustard instead of sauce (but with sauce on the side) and with tomato. At least they got the order right. As noted, the meat was charred too well done for me, but still had more char flavor than McD's. I liked the lettuce, not limp at all. If you're looking for a Big Mac knock off this is not it, primarily because IMO the McD sauce is what defines the Big Mac. I'm glad I didn't get the sauce on the burger as it was pretty bad. Overall, not a bad amount of food for the price, but it just didn't have the "zing" of the BM. Burger King needs to return to the test kitchen and tinker with what is a great concept poorly executed.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: TomSwift
                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps Nov 25, 2009 12:12 PM

                          Burger King?

                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                            t
                            TomSwift Nov 25, 2009 12:20 PM

                            Oops! I guess that that burger had a negative influence on my memory. Thanks for the correction.

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