This week I reached out for a new Chef's Choice Burger, the most uppity upscale burger ever from the world's No. 2 slider slinger, Burger King, with 12,300 restaurants practically everywhere you look ... usually next door to McDonald's and across the street from Wendy's.
The Burger Wars take no prisoners. The Chef's Choice Burger is a different breed. This is Burger King's answer to McDonald's raising the ante with its premium Angus Third Pounders and Wendy's with Dave's Hot 'N Juicy Cheeseburgers.
Burger King really should be picking on somebody its own size. The Chef's Choice Burger could give Fuddrucker's and Dad's backyard grill a run for their money.
Here's the blueprint: Start with a 5.5-ounce chuck patty, throw on a slice of American cheese and thick hardwood-smoked bacon, top with leafy Romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes, and finish with Burger King's "grill sauce" on a brioche-style artisan bun. If it takes two hands to handle a Whopper, somebody will have to lend you a hand for this burger.
Total calories: 650. Fat grams: 40. Dietary fiber: 4 grams. Sodium: 1,330 mg. Carbs: 40 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $4.99.
A fiver for a single-patty burger at Burger King? Quality costs. The Chef's Choice chuck patty is 5.5 ounces, yet this burger has fewer calories than the 4-ounce Whopper patty. You pay one way or another.
Everything is thicker on a Chef's Choice Burger. You can really taste the cheese and bacon. The lettuce and tomatoes are fresher and firmer. Leaf lettuce is always the pick over chopped lettuce -- which goes everywhere. The last thing you do before you sell your car is dig out bits of lettuce from 2007 from under the passenger seat.
The grill sauce, specially made to complement the Chef's Burger chuck patty, starts with mayonnaise. Burger King confesses to onion, garlic and pepper in there, but my burger radar swears there's some added smoky beef flavor. The sauce is a kick in the pants. You can't say they're not trying at Burger King.
I also think the bun is made with potato flour, but Burger King isn't talking. Potato buns -- pretty good stuff. The effort is appreciated.
While there's so much new about the Chef's Choice Burger, the one that puts it over the top is the same old story -- Burger King's fire-grilled flavor.
So, the bottom line is the bottom line: Is Burger King's Chef's Choice Burger worth $5? Burger snobs will say yes. Go on, splurge. You're worth it.