In case you haven’t heard, Burger King is hoping to step it up a notch with a chain of higher-end restaurants called the Whopper Bar. With locations in Orlando, Miami, and New York, the unique BK offspring sell fancier burgers and will eventually offer beer, since it wouldn’t be a proper bar without it. But the Times Square location alone will offer the New York Pizza Burger, a ground meat monstrosity made of four patties, loaded with cheese, marinara sauce, and pepperoni, and cut into pizza-like slices — the biggest fast food innovation since the KFC Double Down. Last night, the Times Square Whopper Bar invited members of the press to sample the new dish and check out some of the other Whopper Bar exclusives.
From the outside, the Whopper Bar looks like any other Burger King. When you walk inside, it smells like household cleansers, which we’re assuming is also normal for the chain. Full disclosure: I haven’t been inside a Burger King in years. I can probably count the number of times I’ve eaten fast food on one hand, (growing up I was taught it was a direct cause of several life-shortening diseases), so I employed my good friend Nate to come with me. Like other normal American children, Nate grew up eating the pancake-thin, extra-wide burgers known as Whoppers.
The Whopper Bar menu features the classic Whopper, build-your-own Whoppers, and Whoppers fancied up with ingredients like guacamole, blue cheese, and bourbon sauce. And then, of course, there’s the NY Pizza Burger. While it was funny seeing avocados on a BK menu, the most startling part of the whole experience was the fact that we were led to a tablecloth-draped table by a friendly, twenty-something press rep and had our food (three burgers plus the pizza burger) delivered to us. It just didn’t feel like Burger King. Taste-tester Nate had similar things to say about the food. Here are his reactions:
“The guacamole was weak, didn’t have much flavor. It was thin. And it didn’t have a Whopper taste. To me it wasn’t a Whopper. It was a burger with guacamole. My least favorite.”
The Meat Beast
“Actually pretty good. It tasted just like the Whopper except that it added pepperoni. I’m not generally a fan of adding meats to a burger, but it had a nice pepperoni flavor that enhanced the Whopper taste.”
BK Black and Bleu Steakhouse XT
“A completely different burger from the Whopper. Tasted more like a restaurant burger. The blue cheese was really good. The bacon seemed like it was thicker than the bacon on the Meat Beast. If I got this at a place like Chili’s I would be more than happy with it.”
“Like Burger King meets roller rink pizza. I feel like it needed something else. There was a lot of cheese and a lot of sauce. It could have used some other toppings to balance that all out. And that mysterious Tuscan Sauce tastes a lot like pesto.”
We admire Burger King’s efforts to capitalize on the success of their most popular sandwich, but we’re betting New Yorkers have other places to get their gourmet burger fix. And after the novelty of the pizza burger wears off, BK regulars will stick to ordering what they’ve been getting their entire lives: the classic Whopper.