Ordering off-menu items at a hip local joint is a great way to look cool. It says, I'm a regular here, I'm in on a sexy secret, and dammit, the kitchen staff loves me. But what about doing it at national chains? [via asylum]
After reading Coupon Sherpa's 24 Secret Restaurant Menus Revealed, I decided I needed to try some of these so-called secret selections. It was the experience of a lifetime. Sort of.
I started off at that Mecca of fast food, McDonald's. In the most casual voice I could muster, I ordered a Land, Sea and Air Burger.
Of course, the cashier had no one idea what I was talking about. When I explained to her I wanted a hamburger, chicken patty and Filet-O-Fish all on one bun, her eyes went wide and she ran to get a manager. That's when things got really impressive.
The manager asked if I wanted my chicken crispy or fried (duh, crispy), what kind of bun I wanted (I let them decide), and if I wanted anything else on it (cheese, ketchup and tartar sauce, because I'm fat like that).
Then, in hushed tones, she explained to the cashier how they were gonna ring up this monstrosity, and ... that was pretty much it. A few minutes later a young woman handed me a bag, looked at me cockeyed and said, "You about to eat that?"
Read on for more off-menu misadventures.
Next up was Burger King, where I planned to order a Veggie Whopper until I saw that the BK Veggie Burger from Morningstar Farms was in fact a very real menu item and this seemed to defeat the purpose of my exercise. Instead, I got nostalgic and went with the Rodeo Cheeseburger, a burger topped with barbecue sauce and onion rings that I enjoyed as a kid.
Wikipedia claims it was rolled out to coincide with the release of the 1998 flick "Small Soldiers," though I could've sworn it was tied to Will Smith's 1999 turdfest "Wild Wild West." I prefer to remember it that way.
Anyhow, the Rodeo burger was nowhere to be seen on the menu, but I felt a pang of disappointment when I ordered it and the cashier handed me a receipt without flinching.
It may be off the menu, but it's still very much in their system. It tasted fine; I guess I was just hoping for more pomp and circumstance. After all, wasn't I being ridiculous?
Ditto the chili at Chili's. I was biting my lip to stifle laughter as I ordered it, but my waiter returned shortly with a cup of the stuff, and that was that. The only chuckles came from said waiter, as he watched the idiot taking photos of his chili. More exciting for me was the realization that beers are two for one at Chili's happy hour.
After a disappointing return trip to Mickey's (All I'll say about their "grilled cheese" is not to order it; it made me sad), I began to feel I'd struck out. I needed to go big again. I needed to order something absurd.
So I went to KFC and ordered poutine, a mess of a dish from Quebec consisting of fries, gravy and cheese curds. Considering KFC is neither French nor Canadian, there seemed no good reason they would ever offer such a thing; it was so batty it just might work.
Through an inch of bulletproof glass, I said proudly, "I'll have an order of poutine!" To which the employee replied, "We got what's up there," and pointed to the menu. I got a small Pepsi, hung my head, and plodded away, like Charlie Brown, but fatter.
Ultimately, off-menu items at fast food chains are like the deleted scenes on a DVD. They're kind of interesting to see, but it's obvious why they were left out of the movie: They suck.
You may be wondering, though, what about that Land, Sea and Air? I admit, it was an experience. Those fine, accommodating folks at Mickey's even threw on an extra burger patty just for fun. After staring at it with a mix of trepidation and glee, I opened wide (really wide) and went for it.
It was absolutely the filthiest piece of crap I've ever eaten, and I mean that in the worst possible way. That said, it's a great way to impress your friends -- if you're a college freshman who's desperate for acceptance.
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