As I mentioned in my last article, I’ve really slowed down on eating fast food due to my growing love for local restaurants and for the sanctity of my health. Though I still pull up to Wendy's on occasions, McDonald's and Burger King have been out of rotation for years now. For Burger King in particular, its been around five years.
I decided to deviate from my norms recently and give Burger King a second shot to join Wendy’s in making the cut as ‘tolerable’ fast food. Here’s how it went:
The Burger King on Pompton Avenue is one of the closest to the Montclair area, and happens to be the last one I visited back in 2012.
This place had a major facelift in the past few years. The entire restaurant is remodeled, from the parking lot to the interior. The parking spaces are actually lined now and the road is smoother; the building is taller and more spacious than before; and the old, dingy blue color that covered the majority of the exterior has a cleaner looking tan color.
Just from the way the outside has changed, I knew better than to expect the same 70’s inspired furnishings that this location had since I was a kid. The old film posters and neon lights were gone and the vintage car seating arrangements were swapped with regular chairs and booths.
I suppose corporate was tired of the ‘fast food time machine feels’ and wanted to modernize the location.
To me, that'd be +1 for innovation and -1 for individuality.
It was lunch time and I didn't feel like eating a burger so I ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with medium fries and drink.
I headed straight to the soda machine after I grabbed my receipt and I was immediately caught off guard. Their new soda machines look like the Redbox DVD rental dispensers that you’d see in a grocery store. I took a step back to get a better look at it and then I realized that it’s touch activated. I sorted through the options for a good minute before choosing Dasani's Sparkling Water. (Spoiler: this was the most enjoyable part of my Burger King experience)
I took my order to go and successfully avoided looking like a lonely sap indulging in a depressing fast food meal in public. I prefer to do things like this privately.
I took a couple of fries and I was simply content. The taste went right over my head. I wasn't satisfied nor was I complete disgusted. I figured I'd get back to those after the sandwich.
Next, I unraveled the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. From being so familiar with fast food I didn’t expect it to have the appearance of an advertisement, but I did anticipate something better than what I was holding: a lame slice of grilled chicken, topped with sloppy pieces of lettuce and tomato in between a soggy bun that was sopped with mayonnaise that was still seeping out of the side of the sandwich.
Even though I have strong hatred for soggy bread, this sandwich wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be when I initially opened it. After all it was a grilled chicken sandwich with ‘basic’ ingredients. You would have to really try if you wanted to mess this up.
The fries were an uncontested disappointment for me. I really tried to force them down after I finished the sandwich but I couldn’t. I was nowhere near full either. They just reminded me of thick slices of cardboard with salt on top. There was zero taste to me. This was a problem that ketchup couldn’t even resolve.
I came to the conclusion that I wasn't actually missing out on anything special during my break from BK. It's hard to fathom how I enjoyed toying with a drink dispenser more than eating the meal I payed for.
This experience just gave me more reasons to take an even longer break from Burger King this time around. Maybe I'll try six years next...or never again.