By Mike Thayer
I recently wrote about what to look forward to in 2019 from fast food. Trending, are smokehouse/steakhouse style burgers and sandwiches and the meat of the year is predicted to be brisket.
Consumers are clamoring for something more, creations beyond the ordinary realm of classic burger and sandwich flavors. People want smokey, they desire more than just ketchup and mustard, folks are calling for cheeses with deeper flavors and buns with a little more tease than run-of-the-mill sesame seeds. And it's no different when it comes to other meat on bread options, a.k.a., pizza, consumers are looking for more, something beyond the traditional flavors.
I did a "Twofer" yesterday, tackling two restaurants and their Smokehouse/Steakhouse style offerings for lunch. It was Burger King's Rodeo King vs. Wendy's Barbecue Cheeseburger..... The two restaurants are right next door to each other, so why not, right?
I went to Wendy's first. Earlier this month the restaurant announced what they're calling the "Made To Crave" menu featuring three new burgers, the S'Awesome Bacon Cheeseburger, the Peppercorn Mushroom Melt, and the Barbecue Cheeseburger. With my Smokehouse/Steakhouse style challenge in mind, I ordered the Barbecue Cheeseburger, making it a double.
Here's the promo write-up from Wendy's:
Barbecue Cheeseburger: Wendy's has long understood what makes barbecue taste so great. Now, the Barbecue Cheeseburger finds that backyard balance of sweet and heat, with a touch of smoke. The cheeseburger is complete with two slices of American cheese, crispy fried onions, three juicy pickles, and fresh, never frozen beef. To top it off, it's smothered in a sweet and smoky Kansas City-style barbecue sauce that delivers familiar and comforting flavors, making it a top-contender for craveability.
This was a good burger, but not something I've going to crave moving forward. It satisfies all the basic BBQ elements, the beef was cooked nicely, the crispy fried onions provided a nice texture element, there's the classic tartness of the pickles and I will say that BBQ sauce had a nice twang to it, it's NOT run-of-the-mill stuff. It's a notch above what Wendy's competitors are serving. The toasted bun was nice as well but nothing extra-ordinary. This sandwich is missing something to truly make it a top-contender for craveability..... BACON! Put some bacon on that sandwich and I would buy it again. But without bacon, sorry Wendy's, it's not a repeat buy.
The Wendy's Barbecue Cheeseburger cost me $6.76, an average price for what fast food/fast casual is offering in the Smokehouse/Steakhouse flavors trend. Good but not great, I'm giving the burger 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. To repeat, it's NOT a repeat buy.
So after purchasing my Wendy's Barbecue Cheeseburger to go and putting it in my truck for aroma therapy, I walked across the parking lot to Burger King. How will the BK burger measure up to the Wendy's burger? From the picture, it's clearly the bigger burger, but is it better?
In a word, yes. Why Burger King does not promote this burger is a bit puzzling. It's really quite good, but you won't find it on the restaurant's board menu, you have to know about the sandwich (it's on the online menu) and ask for it. In fact, the lady taking my order had trouble finding the sandwich on her register. She even told me initially that she didn't think they offered the sandwich, but she found it and placed the to-go order. Burger King was ahead of the Smokehouse/Steakhouse curve, unveiling this sandwich in 2017, but the sales must not be there, otherwise it would have a prominent place on restaurant menu boards. It's a shame it's not getting promoted now, it's a darn good burger.
Here's the description from their website: The RODEO® KING™ Sandwich features two savory flame-grilled beef patties totaling more than ½ lb.* of beef, topped with 3 half-strips of thick-cut smoked bacon, our signature crispy onion rings, tangy BBQ sauce, American cheese and creamy mayonnaise all on our sesame seed bun.
The Rodeo King without question is the better burger of the two I sampled today. Burger King does a better job of marrying all those flavors, the flame-grilled patties, the smokiness of the bacon, the crispy onion rings, and while the BBQ sauce was nothing notable on its own, makes a great pairing with the creamy mayo. So in the battle of Burger King's Rodeo King vs. Wendy's Barbecue Double Cheeseburger, Burger King wins. It's the bacon and full size crispy onion rings that puts this sandwich on top. Costing me $6.76 - what are the odds, the exact same price as the Wendy's burger - that's an average price for what fast food/fast casual is offering in the Smokehouse/Steakhouse flavors trend. The Rodeo King gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars and is most definitely a repeat buy. If you're craving a good BBQ cheeseburger, consider a Rodeo King. That's ironic isn't it? Burger King has more "craveability" than Wendy's.......
$pend Wisely My Friends.....