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Oct 27, 2011 10:38 AM

Burger King Chef's Choice - Horrific

I should have known better, but it was close and I was in a hurry. Ordered the new Chef's Choice burger from BK. $5 for a 1/3 pounder. Well, yes, it is a noticeably thicker patty, and the lettuce, tomato, cheese, bacon, etc... seemed fresh and plentiful. Clearly aimed at 5 guys.

But I ate about 4 bites and threw the rest out. The meat is just inedible. Spongy, dry, completely devoid of burger/beef flavor. It didn't even have that weird BK "char" flavor. The patty looked and tasted totally artificial. I would have preferred tasteless, but this was like eating a lab experiment. I can't quite place the flavor - other than it was literally nausea inducing. Maybe a cross between synthetic vegetable flavoring and liver? Ghastly.

How does BK keep up this track record? Who the heck works in their R&D and marketing departments? I mean, this monstrosity (just in time for Halloween), their awful spray-starch coated french fries, and that ridiculous marketing campaign featuring a big plastic head?

Anyone complaining about 5 Guy's burgers will bite their tongues if they try one of these. For pretty much the same price, it's a choice between a burger and an Ipecac substitute.

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  1. Not really a fan of any of their recent incarnations. I liked the buck double better than their new dollar burger menu.
    The Whopper is all the burger I need , both in size and money spent. About 3.35 $ where I live.

    1. To BK's credit, the marketing campaign with the King was rather brilliant (and, since you asked, was created by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, an ad agency). They embraced a new target audience and did smart things with it. Now, however, they've seen the success of McDonalds and have abandoned it for a new target audience, but they're just sort of scattered, and their food quality has gone markedly south of late.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Boston_Otter

        The king was creepy. I'm glad that was abandoned. So was anything by by Crispin Porter & Bogusky that touched BK.

        Now it is just the burger that is creepy.

        Wish I had read the OP before trying it because that pretty much nails what BK is advertising as an "artisan' burger.

        The bun was ok, but everything else was ... yep ... horrific.

        I thought I would be getting a thicker burger with the char flavor. As mentioned ... no char flavor ... no flavor ... the only texture was dry.

        The 'smoked bacon' wasn't menationed. The only thing smoked was the person who created it. It had that thick fake texture of ready to eat bacon.

        The thing with fast food burgers is that it is ALWAYS a mistake if the company focuses on the burger. They are never high quality. There needs to be bigger bun to burger ratio. Or ... like Wendy's lots of condiments so the burger isn't noticable.

        If you think the new burger is a horror ... there is now a lower level of food hell ... BK's veggie burger. Mercifully it is smaller, but has even less flavor than the burger. You might as well eat the napkins.

        Soft serve cone is ok. Not as good as McDonald's and much smaller. Now they seem to have various types of sundaes like pineapple topping.

        There was a takeover by a new company of Burger King in 2010.

        It seems they are rethinking the menu. They need to think more.

        1. re: rworange

          Yes indeed, the King was super creepy, and that was the point. They were going for a young male audience and really played up the bizarre aspects of BK with events like the Subservient Chicken, and even made video games around the King being a stalker. Their sales skyrocketed for a few years, but being super-quirky isn't a long-term strategy. Now I don't know what they're trying to do.

          Sadly yes, the BK Veggie is a very mediocre veggie burger, microwaved, tasteless, and dull. The veggie burger sold in UK-based Burger Kings is really excellent -- a thick, juicy, flavorful patty. Not sure why they went with the Morningstar one here.

          To my mind, there are three good things at BK these days: the original chicken sandwich, the original Whopper, and (surprisingly) the $1 stacker burger.

          1. re: Boston_Otter

            Ah, the subservient chicken. He/she/it would get right in front of the camera and wag a finger if you ordered it to do something "naughty".

            BK has always had a history of trying to redefine things. I remember they even had a veal parmesan sandwich in the late 70's/early 80's. And "dinner service" in the early 90's with a steak sandwich and salad as menu choices. They've survived because they've maintained their core menu items, like what you mentioned. Bring it home, BK.

            1. re: Fibber McGee

              I was a fan of the Croissanwich back in the day. It was a different take on the biscuit / English muffin sandwiches at the other joints.

      2. I wonder why they don’t just go with what works for them. They are a burger joint, don’t apologize for it, concentrate on the things they do well (making an assumption here about them doing anything well) like the classic burgers (Whopper, Jr. grilled chicken, etc.). Go back to highlighting the differences between them and McD and Wendy’s (ie. real flame). Drop the horrid fry recipe and redo them to compete with Wendy’s new fries etc.

        If they cut out all the gimmicks and expense related to marketing food they can’t pull off well even if it was conceived right in the first place they would probably realize some better margins. Reinvest in the freshest ingredients, market the hell out of that and be the smoky flame-grilled burger joint they were. Stop trying to convince people they are on the cutting edge or “healthy”.

        3 Replies
        1. re: River19

          The ones in my area of Indiana have really, really gone down hill in the last few years.

          1. re: HoosierFoodie

            I don’t doubt it. I’m not a huge fast food guy but after driving from MA to SD and back in September I still can’t enter a McD’s, in fact I find myself flipping off their signs just based on my twitching reaction…….the BKs I have seen in the past few years are obviously in need of some love. I wouldn’t eat there.

            Wendy’s continues to try and revamps some things and McD’s has their share of successes with menu additions (amongst a ton of failures too).

            Like I said, BK should get back to its roots or it all done.

            1. re: River19

              So true. Their thing is that char broil taste and there isn't even much of that anymore.

              I tried the BK toppers. Totally skip the Delux, Supreme or whatever it is in the middle. All I recall was the limp chopped iceberg.

              The Western BBQ is just the rodeo burger at double the price with a thicker burger. Other than the whopper classic the only other thing I like is the rodeo burger which is topped with a few onion rings and a dab of bbq sauce. Stick to the rodeo burger which is still on the value menu.

              The Swiss and mushroom is the best of the BK toppers and not bad for $1.99. For some reason the burger, while not as good as a quarter pounder at McDonald's, isn't the horror that is the larger Chef choice burger. At $1.99, not a bad choice.

              I'm giving the new owners a while to work it out. One hopeful sign was there was one "have it your way sign". about something or another. Yeah, they need to get back to that. It was a good campaign.

              Once the King arrived, the company food-wise descended to fast food hell. It was all about creating news-worthy 5000 calorie sandwiches to get free press.

        2. I'm not sure what's happened to them. I know they *used* to taste pretty good. A lot of mayo on the whopper, but it was good. I think the few times I've eaten there in the last 10 years have been horrid. Why would the food go downhill, you think it wouldn't be that hard...

          1. Haven't had many meals there since they stopped making real onion rings and switched to that onion paste crap. Have always loved their Whopper.

            I always picture some number crunching monkeys running the show. It's like they don't even know humans are eating their product. Cut costs at all costs to increase profit, forget you're driving customers away. Hey brainiacs, go back to making super yummy non-McDonaldsesque plastic playfood. Clean and maintain your stores like In-N-Out while you're at it, and I'll consider getting up the nerve to try your food again. Pretty sure I'd bee less pissy about it if I could just go get a tasty Whopper and some nice onion rings along with a reasonable level of cleanliness and dependability.

            Why haven't I been in years? 100% because the two in my pathway have such pisspoor management I can't stomach it. One franchise was okay, but their parking lot/drivethru was so chock full of potholes that it realigned your tires every time (food was fine, service was poor). The other I tried to eat at and got handed our bag of food through the drivethru window by a guy that my family affectionately named and still refers to as 'Ole Puss Eye. I think I'll let your stomachs churn on their own rather than share the full experience of being served food by 'Ole Puss Eye.

            10 Replies
            1. re: mlou72

              Yeah, they really need to work on service and, um, ambiance.

              I wanted to try the last of the three toppers for lunch today.

              First BK ... 10:52 am ... placed order ... garbled response by someone whose first language wasn't English. After three tries to understand. I slowly said "Do ... you ... have ... the ... BK ... Topper? Yes or no"

              No ... which thank heavens is the same word in almost all languages. I mean is BK really only serving breakfast on week day until 11 am?

              Second BK. Order BK topper. Asked if I wanted anything else and was given the total. Wait ten minutes behind two cars. Get to window and am blithly told "We don't have BK toppers right now". Um, you couldn't have told me that when I ordered?

              1. re: mlou72

                Like I said, I’m not a fast food lover, but I burn a decent amount of fuel driving for hunting trips etc. and find myself needing something right off the highway and not wanting to waste too much time, so the options are few.

                BK’s infrastructure has basically stayed the same for many years while Micky Ds, Wendy’s Taco Bell, etc. have kept up with periodic refreshes. Everyone knows McDonald’s has long taken the approach of offering core products plus throwing all sorts of things against the wall and see what sticks, they can afford the R&D and marketing. It seems like BK tried to compete and lost their way and didn’t have the funds nor the success McD’s did. McDonlad’s can afford to miss on 75% of their “new” gimmicky items, BK can’t. And so here they are.

                Again, my advice, as a consumer and someone who is very familiar with the inner workings of large retail-type establishments, of course this is my opinion only:

                1 - get back to basics – you are a burger joint, don’t apologize for it, focus on it
                2 - admit your company strayed from its core values (take a page from Dominos on this one)
                3 - invest in the best ingredients, highlight the highest quality ingredients in all marketing
                4 – bring back the “Have it your way” campaign (as someone mentioned)
                5 – Perhaps take a marketing angle of “the classic Burger King is back”
                6 – focus in differentiation between the others (ie. they have fire, not a flat top)
                7- do a small number of things very well, instead of a bunch of stuff poorly

                Just my thoughts………

                1. re: River19

                  Totally agree. Now's the time for them to embrace their old "flame-broiled" legacy. They need to clean up the menu and -- I can't believe I'm saying this -- take a cue from Wendy's and focus on making your food taste really good again. Make the Whopper the star.

                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                    Exactly, a novel concept, “Burger King, our food doesn’t taste like crap anymore, come check us out”. 

                    Honestly, it is like every fast food chain caved to the pressure of being “healthy” and PC. Listen I get it, offer some options, a grilled chicken sandwich, a few salads with good ingredients and maybe a wrap type thing, but stop there. No reason to apologize for your sodium content, fat content etc. While it doesn’t mean to go over the top with 4 slices of cheese and 9 slices of bacon on everything, but it’s a burger joint. If people think eating a burger every day is healthy, they need to get a grip and take some accountability for their actions.

                    Do you see ice cream places apologizing to anyone? See they switch to all low fat, low sugar, shaved ice instead options? Bullshite…..they serve Ice cream. Pizza joints… see them striving to be healthier? After the wheat crust what else can you do? Before you know it everyone is serving pizza looking cardboard with 75% of the calories, fat and sodium but with 10% of the taste and 0% of the value.

                    Crap, be a burger joint, make some good fries and get back to some real onion rings……..

                    What are the chances they actually do it?

                    1. re: River19

                      Yeah, Burger King does one thing that no other large burger chain does ... flame broiled.

                      They need to focus on that. They actually could do something funny if they showed the other burger chains frying up stuff on the griddle in pools of fat.

                      They need to bring back good onion rings. Forget the fries. They did good onion rings in the past. No one else but Sonic does onion rings. Sonic uses real onion, but the batter is so thick they are unpleasanttly chewy.

                      I am glad there is a new ownership. However, they seem to have taken the strategy to put everything every single fast food chain has.

                      Breakfast now includes oatmeal (McDonald's & Starbucks), breakfast bowl (homage to the KFC bowls), breakfast platters with pancakes (Jack in the Box, McDonalds), wraps, McMuffins, so to speak, and much, much more.

                      And let me tell you, BK, just because the coffee company put "Seattle" in the title, that doesn't make their coffee the best.

                      They have sundaes like Dairy Queen. The new premium burgers borrow from Carl's Jr as well as a Wendyish touch. The menu goes on and on, I'm exhausted.

                      BTW, I haven't tried the new shake. I hope that isn't screwed up. That was the other thing BK did well in the past.

                      BK ... flame broil ... focus ... flame broil.

                      The extensive changing menu is Jack in the Box's thing. I mean, other than the tacos, is there one sandwich or anything that anyone remembers about Jack in the Box? I can't even remember the name of their main burger ... Jumbo Jack? I mean how many people rush to buy that.

                      But Jack always has a ever changing menu ... ride that spicy chicken ... and funny, memorable commercials.

                      Flame broil, BK ... flame broil.

                      Take a clue from In-N-Out and Wendy's ... keep it simple.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Bingo !!!!!

                        If it is so obvious to the consumer, why is it so unclear to BK? They have lost their identitiy.

                        Time will tell.

                        1. re: River19

                          Well, one more BK mistake ... its new big breakfast ... too big, too expensive, too little flavor.

                          Jack in the Box is half the price and right-sized.

                          At a lesser price with reasonable portions it might be ok. BK was never a breakfast place though.

                          The huge biscuit would be better if it wasn't full of fake margarine taste. The sausage patty .. meh. Decent scrambled eggs. Too, too many flavorless tater tots, so to speak. The pancakes were decent enough and better than McDonald's or Jack in the Box, but if I'm going to pay big bucks for pancakes and I want to choose a chain, I'd go to IHOP which does it better. Some local IHOPS have weekday breakfast for $3.99. Add a two dollar carafe of coffee, and IHOP is the better deal, and has more pleasant ambiance along with table service.

                        2. re: rworange

                          I agree with everything you've said....I would add that the chicken tenders used to be good too. Why don't they get it? It's not about money either....clearly people are willing to pay evidenced by some of the expensive crap out there. Do the powers that be ever read these blogs?

                          1. re: rworange

                            FWIW .. Seattles Best is owned by starbucks ... Subway also sell it with its breakfast sandwiches.

                        3. re: Boston_Otter

                          I've always wondered if the "flame broiled" taste was actually from their cooking technique or if it was enhanced by a chemical additive. I'm not saying I don't like it.. I've just always been a little suspicious of just how strong the flavor used to be and how dark the grill marks were..