Friday, May 29, 2009

Food review | Whataburger? More like, 'What burger?'

The bacon cheeseburger and fries, splayed out on a tray at Whataburger's soon-to-be-former location on Wickham Road in Melbourne.

Whataburger is one of the many fast-food joints here in Florida that I've been meaning to try. I was never exposed to chains like this while growing up in Maine, and I tended to eat at classier joints such as Five Guys when I lived in Washington and New York.

This week, I finally went to Whataburger only because the company announced last week that it would close all 14 of its locations in Central Florida, including one just down the street in Melbourne. In a news release, Texas-based Whataburger said its Florida sales were just too low.

And I can see why.

Fresh from a storm-chasing adventure Tuesday, I ordered the No. 5: a bacon cheeseburger with fries and a drink. My bill came to $6.35. I gave the cashier a five-dollar bill and two ones ($7), and he gave me back $4.65 in change. He was convinced that I had given him $11, but I said I wasn't that stupid. He didn't believe me, and I wasn't going to argue further. After all, I was the one coming out on top.

The cashier gave me a ticket number, and I sat in a booth, to where I was promised my food would be delivered - a service unlike ones offered at McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's. Bonus points.

But the wait was nearly 10 minutes, an ordeal also unlike those experienced at McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's. I asked my server if the restaurant would close, and he said, "Yes, on May 31." That's tomorrow. He encouraged me to call a toll-free number and tell the representative that I would like to see the Whataburger location stay put. I told him I would.

I lied.

The diameter of this burger was large, probably a good 5 inches. The ingredients were similar to those found at less-classy burger joints - your McD's and the like. The meat, both beef and pig, was dry and elastic: Moisture is where the flavor's at. The onions were diced, unlike the ones at the classy Five Guys, where they are sliced: Onion dissection is an important indicator of quality. But to Whataburger's credit, the pickles were crinkle-cut, a nice touch that adds surface area and, consequently, flavor: Believe it.

But the bun (left, sorry for fuzziness), believe it or not, was the most disappointing component of this bacon cheeseburger. I've never described bread as overpowering, but it was. There was more bun than the other ingredients combined - by a long shot. A dry patty sandwiched between dry bread can't be considered a flavorful tasting experience or a pleasurable chewing experience. It was stick-to-your-mouth awful.

The fries also were not noteworthy. But the Coke was admirable - just the right amount of chlorine.

With its Texas heritage, I expected more from Whataburger's beef. But as they say over in the Lone Star State, everything is bigger in Texas. But at Whataburger, I was not expecting that to apply to my bun - and to the amount of change I got.

More: If you want to see a real burger, check out this link, then compare the photo in that post with the out-of-focus one in this post. They are telling portraits.


Mark said...

their burgers suck, but their chicken biscuits for breakfast are great

Anonymous said...

Whataburger is awesome. Their burgers are yummy and their taquitos are the best!

Anonymous said...

Hey man, i dunno about the whataburger you went to, but the burgers pumped out here in the Rio Grande Valley are flippin' GooOOood. We don't have any fancy burger joints down here and to be honest, eating a Whataburger beats eating at Mickey D's any day.