Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Burger King

Festus Mo.

Adam spent the weekend visiting his brother in Springfield, Angel and I were alone for the weekend’s feast. I’d been struggling almost endlessly with a work issue and had given little thought to the meal. When she announced Burger King I was not surprised. There’s a romantic element to BK. When Angel and I decided to go on our first date, our resources and options were quite limited. We were both working in a now-defunct factory on second shift, and we needed to go to a place that we were sure not to run across our respective spouses (long story). We got off work at ten-thirty and many of Springfield’s finer establishments were not open that late. Burger King was. So it was at the "Home of the Whopper" near Glenstone and Sunshine that we officially became an item (sinners).

Of course we’ve been to BK’s quite often since then but this was special since we could have chosen lots of places for just the two of us to go on a date again. I needed the boost.

While working in Sunset Hills a few years back, there were several nearby BK’s On Fridays I’d drive to one, order the same %$#&!! thing ever time, so often in fact that the little old lady would punch in my order before I got to the counter. Fish sandwich, large fries, no drink. (I carried bottled water with me). I’d grab exactly four ketchup packets and a thick wad of napkins. Then I’d drive to the nearest park, crack open a book and enjoy myself for a bit.

Since I started working elsewhere a couple of years ago, I haven’t renewed that ritual. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had BK.

The Place:

It’s a Burger King, just like all the other shiny plastic Burger Kings in the world (12,200 outlets in 73 countries).

The Food:

We live on the edge, always trying new things (LOL) so we decided to try the new Steakhouse XT. Of course we had fries, and tea. Our thicker steak sandwiches apparently required more passes over the blowtorch than a regular burger so we filled our drink cups and found a table. I filled up a half dozen of those little paper cups they provide for ketchup. The ketchup was on tap there, an incredibly slow dispenser that took a couple of minutes to fill the tiny paper cups. I struggled for a second with how I was going to get them to our table. I grabbed a large drink lid and turned it into a little tray. Once back at the table, Angel applauded my ingenuity. The meals had been delivered to us, and we dug in. They offer two styles on the XT, regular and turbo*; A1 Sauce or Jalapeno flavored. We both opted for the A1.

BK’s fries are pretty good, but not the best in the world. There was barely enough ketchup among the shallow cups to coat them properly. I prefer to make a puddle on the wrapper and drag my fries through, not just dip the tips into a dainty paper finger bowl.

The sandwiches tasted a little like A1, but the meat had an odd texture. It didn’t have the tug and give of a regular patty, it came apart exactly as bitten. It had the consistency of tofu, not a burger, and certainly not a steak. It was an odd sensation, like eating a raspberry flavored banana. It wasn’t really all that bad, it just wasn’t right.

I didn’t quite finish, my tummy had shrunk a little over the past few weeks due to job anxiety. Angel didn’t finish either, probably out of sympathy.

Summary:

We’ll go back, but we’ll avoid the Steakhouse XT. Our meal came in around eighteen dollars since I opted for large fries and drink.** It just wasn’t all that great. I’ll probably continue to enjoy the fish, or even a Whopper (with cheese) but I was disappointed with the new offering. We bussed our table, refilled our cups, and returned to our normal non-romantic lives.

When the boy returned home on Sunday he brought with him a big bag of egg rolls and wontons from Springfield's Canton Inn. I whipped up some rice, Angel fried up some chicken thighs, Now THAT was a meal.

*Turbo and XT. It’s a reference to the old computer days. When the IBM PC first came out there was an XT version. It had a 10MB hard drive instead of just the two 5 ¼ floppies. XT’s sold for $5000 back in ’84 when I first started fixing them (factory warranty certified). Many PC clones of the era offered a ‘turbo’ button that would raise the internal clock speed from 4.77 MHZ to nearly 10MHZ. The option to slow the machine down was there because many games of that era were designed around the 4.77 rate and a higher internal clock speed made them run as if they were on fast forward. Newer games are immune to this since programmers got a little smarter and started referencing real-time rather than CPU time.

** Large drink. This is a scam. BK allows free refills. It’s kind of silly to order a large drink when you can refill it as often as you like.

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