Who are they?
From what I can tell, Fatburger are a rival chain to incumbent McDonald's and have outlets pretty much all over LA: from street corner diners to mall cafeterias, they seem to be everywhere. I couldn't tell if they can be found further outside of LA and California, but as they happened to be next to the hotel I was staying in I couldn't pass them up for lunch.
At least in this particular outlet, Fatburger were tucked away on the side of the Westfield Food court in downtown Century City, a rather quiet business district of high rise towers where the mall was conveniently the most interesting thing in the neighborhood. Fatburger's offerings are more or less the same as your standard McDonald's fare - beef burgers of varying size and a choice of toppings, salads, sauces and so on - but that's about it. I barely remember there being something about a hot dog but I might be mistaken, but to be frank you know what you are getting with a place called "Fatburger".
Not wishing to disappoint my appetite, which was enhanced by hair of the dog from the night before, I opted for an XL sized burger with added cheese and with the works, ie all the usual trappings of salad, gerkins, mustard, onions and so on, plus some chunky fries to compliment the burger. This all took about 15 minutes to materialise, as there was a steady stream of patrons taking advantage.
Size wise I am impressed with the size of XL and even more so that this is only the third biggest size on offer - quite why you would want even more baffles me! It's certainly a lot of burger for your money, though on closer inspection the additional salad etc does go someway to bulk out the contents of the bun. Strangely enough, the fries I was served were a combination of thin and thick fries contrary to my order, but at least this gives me the chance to sample both their offerings. So far so good, you might be thinking!
However, as I have come to find from writing this blog, size is definitely not everything and this is the case here.
My chunky fries were so barely cooked so that the exterior was only slightly crispy, with innards that tasted of raw potato more than chips, while I get the impression that the skinny fries would have been the better bet had they not been served cold. For shame, Fatburger; I would have hoped that your staff would at least understand that food does still take some time to cook properly and that in the 15 minutes of wait time they would be able to sort out something quite so basic of an accompaniment when it comes to burgers.
Moving on to the burger itself, I was hard pressed to discern any difference whatsoever with a fatburger and a McDonald's Big Mac - perhaps in the 'states there is a bit of a problem with bucking the market leader when it comes to fast food that for common fast food burgers they all have to taste the same (ie: terrible). As such, I got an albeit hunger-destroyingly large example of a tasteless hamburger patty, but so thoroughly caked in mustard, mayonnaise and other condiments so as to render any taste of the meat completely overpowered. In retrospect perhaps that was a good thing.
Even the burger bun, a stodgy, squashed thing, had more in common with a Big Mac instead of its own identity and together with the rest of the fillings and the rather large patty gave me the impression of stuffing a pillow down my throat with each bite. Rather than taste good, this burger worked at only making me feel full, which is not something I've come across before.
In another first, this is the first burger that I have been unable to finish completely. Yes, you heard that right: I couldn't finish it. Whether it was to do with my current state of inebriation, the burger or something else, I still can't say. But what I am certain of is that it does not bode well that I can't stomach putting away 100% of what has been put in front of me and should be an indicator of quality.
If you want to know what a Fatburger is like, buy a large Big Mac from McDonalds and then stuff more mayonnaise, gherkins, salad and onions on top. Different label, same sort of shit.
Friends who have been Stateside before had urged me to try a McDonald's out there to see how different it is from the UK (as if it is somehow done properly over there), but I certainly cannot see the appeal after this experience. I'm sticking to gourmet places from now on!
Where can I find them?