Review: Old Bay Filet-O-Fish from McDonald’s
The Filet-O-Fish has been on the menu for 50 years and if you happen to live in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., Delaware, or West Virginia, you might come across the new Old Bay Filet-O-Fish which will be available in 700 restaurants on Monday. I found my Old Bay Filet-O-Fish early and as a native Marylander, I couldn’t pass up a taste and a GrubGrade review.
The Old Bay Filet-O-Fish is your standard Filet-O-Fish sandwich, but the tartar sauce is flavored with Old Bay seasoning. So I’ll take the classic Filet-O-Fish description from the McDonald’s website and make the minor change:
Dive right in and enjoy our wild-caught fish from our sustainable fishery, topped with melty American cheese, creamy Old Bay flavored tartar sauce and served on a soft, steamed bun.
Unfamiliar with Old Bay seasoning? It’s a seasoning mix produced in Maryland that is mainly used on crabs and shrimp… but some people will put it on anything.
Plucked from the Old Bay website, this probably says it best:
There are two things you need to know about OLD BAY® Seasoning: 1) it’s great on seafood and 2) it’s great on everything else. For 75 years it’s ruled the spice rack as The Definitive Seafood Spice, with a world-famous blend of 18 herbs and spices. In Chesapeake Bay area, it’s on every dining room table, nestled between the salt and pepper shakers. But it’s more than that. It’s a time-honored tradition. When somebody whips out the little yellow can, you know you’re in for a good time.
To me, Old Bay is synonymous with crabs. Other than crabs I’ll dabble with Old Bay seasoned potato chips and the occasional summer potato salad. I’m by no means crazy about Old Bay yet I enjoy it occasionally with the right food and environment. Taking the traditional taste of a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish and spicing up the tartar sauce with Old Bay made for an entirely different flavor experience.
Old Bay is so distinctive and pungent that all the ingredients that make up a Filet-O-Fish really take a back seat to the seasoning. The Filet-O-Fish is simple with tame flavors that will be hard to notice with Old Bay flavored tartar sauce in the picture. So the bottomline is… how much do you love Old Bay? The seasoning consists of celery seed, mustard, red pepper flakes, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace… a few others I’m sure… and it all comes together to make a peppery, mildly spicy blend that transforms the creamy tartar sauce to basically creamy Old Bay sauce.
I guess it’s also appropriate to ask… how much do you love the classic Filet-O-Fish? Once Old Bay flavored tartar sauce is in the picture, you’ve got an entirely different flavor experience. For me, while the novelty of a regional style of Filet-O-Fish is cool, I’d much rather be in control of the experience and maybe have an optional Old Bay tartar dipping sauce. I would definitely be in favor of an Old Bay dipping sauce for fries. Just like how I mentioned not being too crazy about Old Bay, the same can be said about the Filet-O-Fish. The breaded square patty isn’t too fishy, decent amount of interior moisture and a very light breading crunch. It’s an average fast food fish sandwich to me and I can’t personally say Old Bay made it any better or worse as it all depends on how much you like the seasoned tartar sauce. The 6.00/10 overall GrubGrade score I gave 6 years ago would have remained unchanged if not for the bad value. The Old Bay Filet-O-Fish and classic Filet-O-Fish are priced the same and it’s not pretty. Priced at $4.29 for the sandwich alone, and $5.29 if you want a double fish patty. This is a small sandwich, a grand total of 5 ounces… slightly smaller than the McChicken which is on the Dollar Menu & More menu.
I enjoy the Filet-O-Fish on occasion if I can find it at a promo price under 2 bucks. The truth of it is that in comparison to places like Arby’s and Wendy’s, the Filet-O-Fish isn’t anywhere close. It’s a decent fast food fish sandwich that still gets those nostalgia points, but there are better options out there. I think regional flavors with limited availability is pretty cool so grab the Old Bay Filet-O-Fish if you’re in the area. There’s just not enough going on with it to make me want to be a repeat buyer at the current price.
Pros: Unique. Regional McDonald's products available in my neighborhood. The steamed bun. Old Bay tartar sauce dominates the flavor... if you love Old Bay, you'll like it.
Cons: $4.29 for a lightweight fish sandwich is grossly overpriced. If you're a big fan of the original Filet-O-Fish taste, you won't find it here. Half-slice of American cheese is even less effective in the Old Bay version of the Filet-O-Fish.
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.50/10
Overall GrubGrade: 5.50/10
More Info: McDonalds.com