Monday, February 10, 2014

Jack In The Box

899 Veterans Blvd
Festus, Mo

Still waiting for the new Hibachi Buffet to open, we had a plan B. Jack has been running an ad for a few weeks now for their 'Bacon Insider' burger.  Bacon on the burger as is traditional, but also with bacon mixed inside the patty, and it is topped with a bacon mayo. That's a lot of bacon, but we're mid-westerners. So this trip wasn't so much about the place as it was about a specific item.
The Place:

Clustered amongst a dozen or so fast food franchises just off I-55 on Highway A, or Veterans Blvd. as it is locally signed. It doesn't stand out very much, but if you are looking for it, just head to Burger King, Fazoli's or Taco Bell.
It is more nicely decorated than BK or McD's but it's still a fast-food burger joint. The floors and tables were mostly clean, unlike the last couple of times we'd been there. It wasn't very busy and there didn't seem to be a large crew working. As we stepped up to the counter I could see one young lady mass-producing tacos. The mature gentleman that waited on us seemed manager-like, yet he handled the drive-thru headset like a pro.
The Food:  We all ordered the same burger. I got mine as a medium combo with curly fries, so did Adam. Angel nixed the fries and got two tacos instead. Angel and Adam like Jack's tacos, I do not. We settled up, twenty five bucks and change.
We grabbed straws, ketchup packets and napkins and followed Angel to a booth near the front. Out came the electronic devices, two smart phones and a tablet. I use my tablet to take notes and photos for this review. Angel and Adam use theirs to goof off.
I told them about a study I'd heard about on the radio earlier in the day. A team of Japanese scientists, presumably not the same scientists that should have been figuring out what to do with that nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima, did a four month study to find the best way to hold a hamburger. I knew the result and told my family that I would be demonstrating the technique. Granted this was a study conducted by a group culturally more accustomed to eating with sticks than a fork, and the study is a little suspect in that it took a group of scientists four months to conduct a study that most American kids figure out in a few minutes by the time they're teenagers. But anyway, it was an official study, so it must be important.
They called our name, Adam popped up to grab the tray.
The burgers were diapered in paper inside boxes, another part of a tree died to produce the paper product to transport food the fifteen feet to the booth and the fifteen feet to the trash bin, unnecessarily wasteful. But that's an argument for another day.
They looked like regular burgers, Angel's tacos looked flat and dead, like Mexican road kill.
Jack boasts in its commercial about this treat being served on brioche, a bread with a higher butter and egg content than good old America white bread. I appreciate up-scaling bread, usually, but to me, on a sandwich, it's more important what is between the bun. My curly fries looked fine, crispy looking, though not actually crispy. I took a bite or two of the burger, it tasted like a bacon cheeseburger, with mayonnaise.  I don't usually put mayo on a burger, I'm an old fashioned mustard and ketchup guy. I found the mayo to be distracting, too loud a note for a savory burger. Angel and Adam shared the tacos, ate them like they were good. I found nothing appetizing about them at all the time I'd tried one. Some people really like them though, one couple came in to pick up their phoned in order of seventy tacos. Yeah, seventy. Blech.
As I ate the burger I realized I was fantasizing about burgers and bacon, but not at Jacks. For the same price as my combo, a little over seven bucks, I'd had a breakfast that very morning at Huddle House in DeSoto. Two eggs, over medium, hash browns, wheat toast and two slices of bacon. That's how to enjoy bacon, plus, HH served up a continuous set of refills for my delicious coffee for the full hour I had sat there and read my book.
Unlike the tea at Jack's. The tea was floral, weak and a bit bitter, I only took a few sips.
At Jack's, as I ate the mediocre burger, flaccid curly fries and sipped that terrible tea, I was dreaming of breakfast at HH and the burgers, just down the road at Gordon's stop light.
The brioche bun was more of a complication than a bonus. It was tougher, chewier than the burger itself. It even made my newly discovered technique for holding a burger more difficult.

The 'right' way.
The 'wrong' way.
The study explained that by using the pinky finger to support the bottom of the bun along with the thumb, this provides more stability for the burger so the innards don't slip out as badly. This is an awkward hand position though, and is probably best suited for a flimsy bun. The brioche was closer to the consistency and density of pizza crust, structurally more rigid. So my findings with the technique were inconclusive.
Bottom line, the burger tasted like a mediocre fast food burger. I probably won't make this a destination meal. It wasn't awful, but there are so many other things available nearby that this new burger just didn't stand out as anything special. The tea was not good at all, I threw most of it away on our way out. Angel said the burger seemed overcooked, perhaps because of the bacon inside it. No one applauded, no one moaned in ecstasy or delight and the conversation at the table and in the car was about nearly every other
subject other than the meal. I think that's like a C-. Passing, but not noteworthy. It was indeed more bacon-y than a traditional bacon cheeseburger, but unnecessarily so. I'm sure it sounded good in the development meetings, but the fact is, it really wasn't terribly interesting or delicious.
The tea?  -4. The price? Like I said I could have spent that same money in the area and received a much better meal. Sorry Jack, a swing and a miss.

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