OLD McDONALD'S HAD A CHARM.
NOT SURE ABOUT THE NEW ONE.
10-11 Grafton Street
Phone: 01 677 8393
Irish Daily Mail
16 March 2019
When I got the press release about the reopening of the newly renovated McDonald's on Grafton Street I skipped over the increased capacity (305 seats, to be precise) more jobs (30, as it happens) and even the "host of new digital facilities". I was transfixed by the words "table service".
I'm, broadly speaking, pro-McDonald's. There's nothing quite like a Big Mac and occasionally I rather fancy one. Perhaps once a year. The same goes for the Quarter Pounder With Cheese, despite the abuse of the word "cheese".
I first ate in a McDonald's on a school trip to Germany; I had never experienced anything quite like it and I was entranced, aged sixteen. But I still believe that their burgers are strange riffs on the theme, a genre of their own. Bunsen, for me, do by far the best classic burgers in Ireland. Wowburger are pretty good too. I wouldn't try to compare a McDonalds burger.
Anyway, I toddled along and rapidly discovered that "table service" didn't mean you can plonk yourself down and be waited upon. Or table cloths, of course. I was naïve to think that "table service" meant "waiting service". No, you have to go to one of the many touch-screens and go through various digital hoops; only then, having taken a plastic sign with your order number on it, and having found a table, and having displayed the number as best you can, do you get your food and drink delivered.
And, frankly, it's quite a palaver. I became quite nostalgic for all the times I invariably chose the slowest queue but at least found a human at the end of it and was handed what I wanted in response to verbal requests.
I made two trips to the touch-screen, one for savoury, one for sweet. The savoury order involved a Quarter Pounder With Cheese which, we agreed, was as good as ever and the only justifiable use for Easi-Singles or whatever you call the plastic cheese-like substance that they use.
The Classic Signature hamburger was good too, in a different way. And it involved a slice of actual cheese and a pretty good brioche bun. I liked the presence of finely and very freshly sliced onion and the vaguely mustardy mayonnaise. It was much more classically hamburger-like than the rest of the McDonalds canon.
Fries - oh come on, chips! - were limp, flaccid, terrible. And this is an operation with a "Hamburger University", albeit rather far away, in Chicago. Curly fries were weirdly pleasant, crisp but largely unfurled. Is this a good or bad thing? I had never had them before.
And then I tasted my first bizarrely-titled McDonald's apple pie in decades. It's no more a pie than I am; it's very hot, spiced apple purée encased in a deep-fried batter coating. And it wasn't bad on this occasion, but a bit smaller and considerably sweeter than I recalled.
I was determined, as one who generally eats low carb, to have just a taste of the mini Crunchie McFlurry but I failed. I scoffed the lot and enjoyed every last appallingly sweet and unhealthy morsel. For the uninitiated, this is soft-serve ice cream mixed with little spheres of Cadbury's Crunchie. And it's seductive. Diabetes on a spoon.
Then came the coffee. McDonalds coffee is good. There was a perfectly pleasant flat white but then, as we removed the lid from the espresso, the contents were revealed: a splash of black coffee, no "crema" to speak of.
Our server remarked, "it took so long to find you, it's disappeared..."
But he returned a few moments later with an espresso that looked absolutely perfect and tasted quite good too.
So, there you have it. A touch screen ordering system (that allows you to customise your burgers in minute detail, if you so wish) that takes quite a bit of getting used to and which therefore will only be useful for regular customers. And a numbering system that's far from perfect.
But the food is grand, in the Irish sense of the word, and, as everyone seems to agree, consistent. Apart from those frightful "fries".