30 July, 2014

The 280 Recette Fromagère - Paris, France - July 2014

Beef and Cheese poking out from all sides

Consumed on 18 July 2014
Location - McDonald's Rue Rennes, Paris, France
Combo Price - 7.90EUR = $10.59USD
Calories = 826kcal

For those of you that are sick of reading reviews from Asia, you are in luck, since I recently came back from a trip to France.  The first burger I was able to try on our short trip was "The 280 Recette Fromagère".  I can't quite figure out if The Original 280 is a regular menu item or not (it's either on the menu fulltime, or it makes an appearance every couple of months), but the "Recette Fromagere" was a limited edition sauce that was available when I was there.  A quick Google search tells me that there have been numerous variants of The 280 over the last 6-7 years, including Bearnise sauce, caramelised onions or pepper, Dijon mustard, parmesan cheese, and even one with chorizo ham! The standard 280 is a thick beef patty, on a special bun, topped with tomato, 2 slices of standard McDonald's processed cheddar cheese, as well as a single slice of emmental (aka Swiss) cheese.  Just if you thought 3 slices of cheese wasn't enough, the "Recette Fromagère" yet another cheese (but which specific cheese, I do not know)

The first thing I noticed in this McDonald's was that it had electronic kiosks where you can place your order first.  You still could queue up the traditional way, but it seemed using the kiosk was the much quicker way.  It only took credit and debit cards, so if you were paying cash you were out of luck (which I never suggest you do, pay on a card whenever you can in order to get miles!).  They had English and a number of other European languages available to select, which was a nice feature.  Another benefit of being digital was that I was able to dig through the menus as much as I could hoping I could find a unique sauce, side, or even kids meal that I haven't heard of to review, although I did find a couple items of note, this time around I ended up settling only for this single meal.  At 7.90 Euro for a medium size meal, it was expensive, but you have to accept that when you are eating out in France, you aren't going to get much better for any less...

After completing my order the kiosk I moved over to the kiosk/internet order pickup desk to wait only about a minute for my food to appear.  I spent that minute thinking to myself who would actually pre-order their McDonald's online in advance and then go pick it up. I was there during Friday lunch hour and it was pretty busy.  Due to ordering at the kiosk still I had my meal extremely quickly, much quicker than I would here in Singapore.  If you ordered online anywhere but actually already inside the restaurant, it was going to be ready long before you could get there to pick it up.  Those thoughts soon faded once I had my food.

Cheese cheese and more cheese

I'm always a bit disappointed when a promo burger is served in a plain box, and this was no different, since it was in a nondescript yellow box. But I was a little bit more impressed once I opened that box, since the burger within actually looked really good.  The special bun was a very soft, ciabatta-style bun and the beef looked as thick as it did in the promo photos, it was wider than the bun by a considerable margin.  

To be honest, if I had another variant of The 280 to choose from, I probably would have tried it over this one, since the thought of 4 cheeses on a single burger seemed like a bit much and truthfully, it probably was (blasphemy, I know).   The special bun was one of the softest buns I've ever had at McDonald's, but it's flavour was a bit on the weak side.  There was so much cheese on the burger that it hid the taste of the bun and any seasoning on the beef, and even though there were 3 large pieces of tomato, you could barely taste it. 

As expected, the weakest of the 3 different cheeses was the processed cheddar.  Rather than include 2 slices I would have preferred if the swapped it for more veg, but I can see how if you were having a standard 280 you would need more than just the single emmental slice.   Whereas the cheddar slices and the cheese sauce were between the top bun and the patty, the emmental slice was between the patty and bottom slice. Calling it a "slice" isn't that true, since it was so melted that it was essentially a sauce of it's own.  If you look at the photo below,  I had to take a peek down there to see what was going on, and why there wasn't an actual slice of cheese like I was expecting. The cheese was there, and it had a surprisingly nice and distinctly swiss-cheese flavour, I just hadn't seen a piece of cheese melted that well on a McDonald's burger before.

The standout part of this burger was clearly the cheese sauce.  Not only was there a big glob on there, but it had a taste that was a cross between a high quality soft French cheese, and those processed spreadable cheese triangles.  A couple years ago McDonald's France had a Comté cheese sauce variant of The 280, and I have a suspicion this could be the same burger but re-released under a different name, it certainty tasted close enough.

There were 3 burgers I wanted to try during our stay in France, and my wife decided that we try this one first as she was most excited about this one.  The burgers in Asia rarely have any special cheeses, and what better country than France to have a burger with both a premium bun and good cheese?

I think you'll know by her reaction to her first bites the score of this burger...

Rating - 4.5/5