Review: Dave’s Single from Wendy’s
I think it’s fair to say fast food isn’t what it used to be. The Big Three chains are pushing sandwiches past the five-dollar mark and making a commitment to buzzwords like freshness and artisan, and more and more they’re embracing the ethos of quick-service restaurants. Wendy’s is the latest chain to beef up on this marketing angle, introducing some small changes to the Dave’s Hot and Juicy hamburger line. They include a new “bakery-style” bun, a “creamy coat of Dave’s signature mayo,” and a foil wrapping to “keep things extra hot.” Yes, prepare for death by quotation marks.I got a Dave’s Single (1/4-pound burger with two slices of cheese) to see what all the fuss is about, and if it is any better than the version first reviewed in 2011. By fast food standards it’s about par for the course with a price tag of $3.99, although it feels comparatively small against a trey of Wendy’s 4 for $4 items.I was excited to see if the foil-wrapping really helped melt the two slices of American cheese, but unfortunately the wrapping didn’t render the cheese an ooey-gooey. If anything, the foil wrapping just provides a lesson in what not to subject to infrared radiation. As for the burger itself, the toppings were added with a light hand, and neither the mayo nor the small amount of ketchup really seemed to stand out. I’m not exactly sure what makes Dave’s mayo “signature” because it just tasted like mayo to me. Wendy’s has really been pushing the combination of the new “bakery-style” bun and “100 percent fresh, never frozen North American beef.” The bun itself isn’t the Brioche bun we’ve seen on past Wendy’s burgers; this bun has a nice sheen and a bit of sweetness and richness, but it still has a somewhat stiff give and a certain level of dryness that doesn’t scream fresh-baked (It is also a near clone of the bun McDonald’s uses for their premium sandwiches these days). Still I do think the bun is a step up from the old buns used on the standard burgers, although it feels and tastes more grocery store bakery than actual bakery, if you get my drift.The beef, meanwhile, is definitely beefy by fast-food standards. I’d describe Wendy’s burgers as a bit less seasoned than McDonald’s or other chains, and because of this the beef tastes a bit more robust and less sweet. Comparatively speaking, the grind is looser than other patties, although it’s still relatively dry. What it isn’t is lukewarm, and because of this it works well when balanced against the salty flavor of the partially melted cheese and some of the bun’s sweetness.Dave’s Hot and Juicy burgers are serviceable burgers by fast-food standards, but I don’t think the new changes and marketing angles really make it a set of better burgers than they were before. The lettuce, tomato, and onion all still get second-hand treatment, while the bun has a few defects that keep it from being memorable. With the higher end burger options Wendy’s has developed in recent years, I just don’t see the Hot and Juicy line really flourishing. Like and awkward middle child, it’s caught between great value and great quality, and lacks enough defining characteristics to make it a go-to.
Pros: Good beefy flavor works well with the American cheese. New bun contributes sweetness and richness. Restrained toppings.
Cons: Foil-wrapping sort of useless. Still fast-food quality. Nothing really sets it apart or makes you think it’s a “great” cheeseburger. End piece of the tomato slice.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 6.50/10
More Info: wendys.com
550 calories, 34 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams trans fat, 35 grams of carbs, 1180 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, 28 grams of protein.