Review: New! Bacon Ranch Crunch Burger from A&W
A&W is by far one of the best root beers on the market. Crisp, refreshing, and they don’t hold back on the vanilla. I’m pretty sure though that most people have not been to one of their restaurants, or don’t even know they exist to begin with. Along with their delicious root beer, they make some killer food as well. When it comes to drive-thru burgers on the east coast, I can’t think of a better place to grab some grub. When talking to Ryan about my first post, he mentioned their new burger and it seemed like a perfect fit for my first review for the site. Along with a review I figure I should get everyone up to speed on the history of A&W restaurants as well. This isn’t just some “fly by night” burger joint.
A&W was one of the original drive-in restaurants in the US. Most assume they started as a soft drink manufacturer and made a name for themselves and then hopped into the restaurant industry. Actually, the opposite is true. In 1919, they opened their first drive-in. They helped pave they way for what we all know now as iconic American car hop delivered fast food.
What set them apart from the competition was their delicious root beer, and root beer floats. By 1960, they had over 200 franchised stores. They continued to flourish into the 70’s but their business model had one fatal flaw. Restaurant owners were free to do whatever with the menu they saw fit. Everything from the cooking to even what kind of food was different from location to location. With no standards on preparation or even the menu, this confused the public and led to a massive amount of store closings. A large dose of irony was added to the mix as this was also the time when A&W root beer was hitting store shelves and becoming a huge hit. By the 80’s very few restaurants were left and the soft drink was flying out of grocery stores.
I was born in 82, and grew up with the root beer, but had no clue of the restaurant heritage. In the mid 90’s, while hanging out at Potomac Mills in Northern VA, I stumbled across a random A&W mall burger joint. Being a person who loves to “roll the dice”, I decided to give it a try. The burger was fantastic, the root beer was on tap (like draft beer) and it was amazing. I tried to spread the word, but no one I knew really seemed to care. Lucky for all of those people, A&W was scooped up by Yum Brands and along with quality standards, a significant amount of locations have been added all over the country. The food is standard fare but for some reason it just tastes great. There just seems to be a little more love put into their burgers. A lot of the newer locations are also partnered with Long John Silver’s. This is the case with the A&W I go to. Fortunately for me, they have added a new burger to the menu.
The Bacon Ranch Crunch Burger is exactly what it sounds like. The website didn’t have a description, but this is how it comes- Their standard burger with cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato, plus ranch and… crunchy fried strip things? I have no clue what you call them. They tasted like the fried batter LJS tosses in the bottom of their fish baskets.
I got the double burger combo with a chilled glass mug and an order of fried cheese curds. I hate to say it, but the burger was the worst I have ever had at A&W. The beef was cooked great. The cheese was melted perfectly. The bacon and produce were great, but the ranch and crunchy umm… stuff, was pretty bad. While I like ranch dressing, it isn’t that great as a burger topping. It also didn’t help that there was barely any on my sandwich. Maybe the staff was trying to help me out by not over doing it. The crunchy batter things were pointless. Other than the ones that fell out of the side, they instantly became soggy and I could’t even tell they were there. Why restaurants keep trying to make burgers crunchy blows my mind. When I go to Five Guys or other great burger places, I never ask myself where the “crunch” is. Playing around with ingredients is fine, but when you needlessly mess with perfection, you’re asking for trouble. I like beer. I like cake, but I don’t need a cake that makes me drunk. Don’t get me wrong though, the burger wasn’t terrible, but a Papa Burger (a single or double with lettuce, tomato, cheese and papa sauce aka thousand island) would have been way better. This burger just didn’t need to exist.
Overall the meal was the same awesomeness that I have come to expect from A&W. The fries have a slightly fishy taste from being cooked in the same oil as the LJS fish, which is an unexpected but great contrast to the burger. The fried cheese curds were tasty, and you can’t beat on tap root beer in a frosted mug. If you get a chance, be sure to check out A&W. Just don’t order any of their wacky new burgers.
Pros: Might be the best fast food bacon out there. High quality fast food burger. Getting to dip my fries in cocktail or tartar sauce without looking like that weird guy who brings his own condiments. Coming to the realization that YUM! Brands might not be as evil and souless as I previously thought.
Cons: Not quite as great as Five Guys or In N' Out. Fast food companies trying to make everything have a "crunch". The chilled mug only stays cold for about five minutes. Ranch dressing on a burger makes no sense to me.
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 6.50/10
More Info: AWRestaurants.com