This week I reached out for a new Bacon Portabella Melt cheeseburger at America's No. 3 burger flipper, Wendy's, with 6,000 restaurants hither and yon ... and Hawaii.
Before we sink our teeth into this review, does spelling count? I would have gone with "Portobello." But are we here for a spelling bee or for lunch?
Here's the Bacon Portabella Melt blueprint: a quarter-pound square beef patty, three slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, sauteed portabella mushrooms, two slices of American cheese and hot cheddar cheese sauce on a buttered, toasted bun.
Total calories: 660. Fat grams: 39. Sodium: 1,450 mg. Carbs: 39 g (mostly in the bun). Dietary fiber: 3 g. Protein: 37 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $4.49.
Like all burgers at Wendy's, the Bacon Portabella Melt starts with a never-frozen, 100 percent North American beef patty. Hello, Canada. The patties are square because Wendy's doesn't cut corners. Or because they fit more efficiently on the grill.
Let's get to the headliners: Of all the drive-thrus, Wendy's is tops at makin' bacon. The bacon is thicker-cut and applewood-smoked. Each Wendy's cooks up its bacon daily. It's not that precooked, razor-thin slice of gristly fat you get in other burger joints. Other bacon, you can read this review through it. You can taste the bacon in a Wendy's bacon burger.
Now for the 'shrooms. These are real portabellas, sauteed so they're tender, not slimy. If you're not familiar with portabella mushrooms, they're the unsung hero of the entire fungus family. You get a burger with portabellas, and the beef patty had better start dancing. If one thing's gotta go, it just might be the patty.
The mushrooms are swimming in Old English Cheddar Sauce and ladled on top. That's in addition to two slices of American cheese. You know what I say to that, right? Not enough cheese! The buttered, toasted bun is a little thing, but it puts the whole burger over the top.
If you're feeling empty, try a Double, with a second quarter-pound patty. Other dealer options include: ketchup, mustard, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes. I'd stick with the factory preset model. All the flavors and textures mesh perfectly -- nothing dominates, nothing gets shoved to the background.
The Bacon Portabella Melt arrives with corporate promises of expansion, restaurant redesigns, new menu items (whole-wheat buns are coming), new uniforms and new signage.
Even the familiar, beloved Wendy's logo is changing. The new logo will still feature the cute redheaded girl with pigtails, but now she's more prominent, more modern. She still has freckles, but she's a little older-looking. She seems to have aged about two years since 1983.
Kids, they grow up so slow.