Fast Food Feature: Wendy’s Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger
When it comes to fast food in the United States it is abundantly clear that McDonald’s is king. McDonald’s does the most business, makes the most money, and has the iconic golden arches around every corner. The focus for the rest of the fast food chains is to fight over the remaining market share. In recent years, nobody has fought harder for second place – and been more successful – than Wendy’s. Instead of trying to replicate what McDonald’s offers (I’m looking at you Burger King), Wendy’s has worked to differentiate themselves by focusing on fresh and premium ingredients throughout their menu. This strategy is highlighted by their current slogan: “Quality is Our Recipe”.
The newest addition to the Wendy’s menu is the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger ($8.09 for the Value Meal at my Wendy’s), and the quality of this burger was clear from the first bite! The burger is a quarter-pound beef patty “topped with roasted, chopped tomatoes, creamy, rosemary garlic aioli, fresh spring mix, natural Asiago cheese and applewood-smoked bacon.” Sticking to its name, the burger sits on a toasted Ciabatta bun. When I first opened the box and smelled the roasted tomatoes, the mixed greens, and the aioli spread, I almost thought I was about to eat a salad. Thankfully I could see the burger, the cheese, and the bacon, or else I may have thrown the meal right in the trash (I am rarely in the mood for a salad – and by that, I mean never).
Although I was initially hesitant about all the salad-like ingredients, they did a great job of keeping the burger light and enjoyable. Too many times I’ve grabbed a big burger on lunch break and spent the rest of the afternoon in a food coma. The Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger did not give me that trouble, yet still managed to fill me up. The core of the burger is still the quarter-pound patty and the bacon strips, the essential cornerstone combo of any burger, so the tomatoes and greens act to compliment what is already a hearty cheeseburger.
The final piece of this delicious puzzle was the toasted Ciabatta bun. Wendy’s has not been shy about changing their specialty buns over the past year or so. They have introduced, and discontinued, a pretzel bun, released a brioche bun, and now built a burger on ciabatta. At times, they tend to focus more on the bun than what they put inside of it, but with this burger, I truly appreciated the effort on the Ciabatta. It was heartier than a regular burger bun, so there was no sogginess or mishaps when it came to the meat-bread ratio. The Ciabatta perfectly complimented the flavor profile of the burger without overpowering any of the individual ingredients.
Overall, I think Wendy’s hit the nail on the head with the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger. They didn’t do anything too far outside the box, but by focusing on quality they were able to freshen up the traditional bacon cheeseburger. I saw a handful of similarities the “Italiano Burger” from Olive Garden (which I previously reviewed), but I have to give the edge to Wendy’s because of the better bun and the addition of bacon (though it’s not really a fair fight when you have bacon on your team).