Monday, March 27, 2006

McDonald's - Burwood - American Cuisine

Store Name: Burwood
Postcode: 3125
Address: Corner of Burwood Highway & Scott Grove
Phone Number: (03) 9808 2235
Price Range: $5 - $8 for a meal, another $3 for dessert


When I entered this McDonald's restaurant, I was immediately amazed at how much it had changed since my days as a university student down the road. In those days (nearly ten years ago now), I used to frequent this fine dining establishment a lot. In fact, the money I provided them with in exchange for goods and services could very well have bought a new car. But I digress.

The layout of the store was new - there was an island for straws, napkins, bins and a tray recepticle behind the queueing area, the seating area had changed, and the entrance out to the kids' playground equipment was different. It was certainly very clean and had not a trace of the many pickles that I had witnessed being thrown on the ceiling (around the corner, out of view of the counter staff) back in my younger days.

The service was speedy and I reached the front of the queue in no time. The young girl who served me had an efficient air about her, and delivered my meal with a minimum of fuss.

My burger was fresh, well-cooked and correct to my specifications. The fries were hot and delicious. The Coke was cold and not over-filled with ice.

Afterwards, as I sat alone and read the paper / reflected on old times with friends gone by, my tray was collected by a smiling young female employee who was happy to clean the table around me as I sat. She was pleasant and respectful of my space and solitude.

I spent a good ten minutes watching people in the restaurant (I was in no particular hurry on the day), and enjoyed a leisurely walk back out to my car in the sunshine.

Life is good, I reflected. Then I drove home and had a pizza for dinner.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, plus an extra star for the fond memories.

Stars: ****

Sunday, February 05, 2006

McDonald's - Ringwood - American Cuisine

Store Name: Eastland
Postcode: 3134
Address: TG1 Eastland Shopping Centre, Maroondah Hwy
Phone Number: (03) 9879 6324
Price Range: $5 - $8 for a meal, another $3 for dessert


I'm not sure what I expected when I lined up in the queue at this counter-service-only McDonald's store (I have a problem saying 'restaurant' when it's just a counter amongst so many others in a shopping centre food court).

Maybe friendly service. Maybe value for money. Maybe healthy food. Maybe hygienic facilities and procedures. Maybe Elle MacPherson serving me wearing only bikini briefs.

Whatever it was, it soon become apparent that I was expecting too much from my dining experience.

From the lengthy queues (made all-the-worse by the pain-stakingly slow and clueless staff serving at the head of the line) to the most iritated and disinterested method of taking an order I have ever experienced, I was completely unimpressed with the level of staff enthusiasm portrayed during my visit.

They got my Quarter Pounder with Cheese 'grill' correct, though - which earned them a star all on its own.

The Fries were cold and not cooked enough, and the Coke was almost warm (with a little something wrong with the taste, as well - possibly the syrup and/or ice was playing up.

I came away feeling somewhat unsatisfied, and more grumpy than when I'd lined up. I guess this shows that it wasn't a terrific dining experience.

When the staff treat the customers with disrespect and make them feel as though they're being a bother, it kind of spells doom in my book.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars.

Stars: *

Monday, January 16, 2006

McDonald's - Doncaster East - American Cuisine


Store Name: Doncaster East
Postcode: 3109
Address: Corner of Blackburn & Doncaster Roads
Phone Number: (03) 9842 9987
Price Range: $5 - $8 for a meal, another $3 for dessert


This McDonald's is one of the more pleasant McDonald's in the eastern suburbs, as it has a large, friendly and open atmosphere, having recently been renovated from a more cramped - but equally friendly - layout.

The service I encountered upon my visit was both courteous and efficient. I was especially delighted to hear that it was a pleasure to take my order.

Even though I requested a Quarter Pounder with Cheese as a "grill" (industry term for 'special order'), it was still a pleasure to take my order, as far as I could tell.

My "grill" consisted of "small" onions (another industry term; this time referring to the diced onions they put in the Junior and Cheeseburgers, rather than the coils of raw onions the "large" burgers automatically receive ... and which I loathe), and extra pickles.

Yes, extra pickles.

This reviewer is nothing, if not healthy.

Truth be told, there was going to be a three minute wait on my burger, but I was delighted to discover that it was my choice as to whether or not I wanted to have my Fries and Coke now, or wait and receive it all together. I opted for the former, so that I could eat while I waited for my burger, and not allow my Fries to go cold in the meantime.

The Fries themselves certainly earned their trade-marked subtitle of "Australia's Favourite Fries", as mine were cooked to delightful golden brown and were not-too-salty; not-unsalted-enough. They were also warm, and contained almost no little green or black bits on the end.

The Coke was watered down, of course, but this is par for the course with McDonald's Family Restaurants, as you will no doubt come to learn as this series of McDonald's reviews continues. However, the ice was just enough to keep my drink cool for the duration of my entire meal, without there being so much that it meant I had very little actual drink in the cup at all. A delicate balance to find at the best of times, my Server - whose name was Tammy, apparently - was able to find that balance and leave me feeling refreshed and revitalised as a result.

When my burger came out (handled with grace and care by Derek, another efficient Server - although this time with no smile), I was pleased to discover that my "grill" had been made to order, and the burger was very hot - just how I like them!

Upon biting into the burger, I was astonished to find that it was a veritable taste explosion, hampered only slightly by the streams of juice/fat running down my fingers and onto the burger's wrapper.

I ordered a large meal, which cost me $5.95 (Australian).

The other diners around me were largely young parents with a few children each, the odd businessman or woman, and one druggie in the corner. The restaurant was clean and bright, and the playground out the back was highly enjoyable after the meal (although I was escorted from the grounds after fighting with a three-year-old girl, Penny, about whose turn it was next for the slide).

It was mine, dammit.

Rating: All in all, I give McDonald's in Doncaster East 4 out of 5 stars.

Stars: ****