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Posts Tagged ‘Heat and Eat Burger’

Fast Bites Sliders Review – Advance Pierre

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Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance PierreI’ve reviewed a lot of products that I commonly call “gas station foods,” or ready to eat and heat and eat sandwiches.

Often these are from one of the industry giants, Advance Pierre, (hereinafter AP) which also recently acquired a sizable competitor, Landshire. Past reviews on this site include Advance Pierre’s Sausage and Cheese Biscuit, Big Az Cheeseburger, and their Pretzel Cheeseburger.

Today I checked out their cheeseburger sliders, which were found at Dollar Tree, packaged two in a box. These can generally be thought to compete with frozen White Castle sliders.

The Advance Pierre sliders are microwave ready, about a minute, but using the “old method” of removing the sandwiches from their plastic wrapping and tucking them into a paper towel.  This used to be White Castle’s instructions also, but now theirs are heating directly in their packaging.

In the case of either sandwich, it can be difficult to master the heating process.  One can end up with a part that’s rock hard or ice cold. Today, heating worked out pretty universally successful.

The AP‘s buns are much softer than White Castle’s, tho substantial enough to deal with the burger and any toppings you care to add. The burger has less flavor than White Castle, probably due to the latter having the equivalent of the restaurant’s flavor/method of being cooked on a bed of onions.

The AP ingredient list lists “cooked onion” but the flavor isn’t evident.  I was surprised, but happy about the fact, that AP’s patties aren’t bathed in liquid smoke, as a lot of heat and eat burgers are, a method to simulate outdoor grilling.

All in all, with condiments of my (or your choice), this is a pretty good product for a quick snack, or to pop something economical in your kid’s mouths. They aren’t terribly unhealthy in terms of fat, sodium, or carbs.

I’ll buy them again, and keep a few on hand. Why not?

Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance Pierre

Frozen out of package

 

Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance Pierre

After 60 seconds in microwave

 

 

 

 

Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance Pierre

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Steak N Shake Frozen Burgers Review

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Steak N Shake Frozen Burger ReviewSeems like every restaurant brand is trying to extend their reach by putting labeled products in the grocery aisles; if my memory is correct, seems like Taco Bell was first. Now there is hardly a fast casual brand that you don’t see in the grocery, whether it’s Boston Market, Fridays, Marie Callenders,  Fatburger, Burger King, Nathan’s.

I’ve reviewed a pretty good sampling of heat and eat burgers in the past, including  Fred Meyer Frozen Mini Cheeseburgers, Private Selection Angus Beef Patties, and Trader Joes Kobe Style, White Castle,  to the convenience store types like Big A Angus Charbroil, the 7-Eleven Cheeseburger, Fatburger, Walgreens,  AM/PM Mini Marts, and Ball Park, to mention a few.

Now I see Steak N Shake has entered the fray.  The Illinois founded company now has more than 400 outlets across the country, and I have generally been pretty pleased with their products.  They have a rep for fresh, cooked to order food.

So I wish they wouldn’t have entered this market segment.  I think it does more harm than good, as a frozen heat and eat burger can’t come close to the taste or texture of a burger prepared in the restaurant.

Steak N Shake chose Ohio-based AdvancedPierre as their contract manufacturer / distributor.  The company makes a lot of heat and eat foods for the convenience and vending market, including the “Big A” referenced above.

While this type of product is available throughout the entire price range, from a buck each up to $10 + for a bag of six or eight patties, the Steak N Shake variety was offered at $5 for (2) 5.3 ounce sandwiches.  The sandwich is comprised of two patties, one slice of cheese and bun.  No condiments are included, of course.

(Need some Steak N Shake chili or their great seasoning?  We can hook you up!)

Instructions call for puncturing the wrapper (picture 1 below), heating for 75 seconds in the microwave, and letting sit for thirty seconds after that.  Of course it has the disclaimer that “microwaves and heating times may vary” and they were referring to mine, as at 75 seconds the middle of the patties was still frozen.

Removed from the microwave (picture 2 below), they look fairly appealing.

One “beef” I have with all of these products that include buns, is that frequently the bun and meat require different heating times, so you’re going to probably be disappointed with one or the other.  My “cheat” is to disassemble them and heat them separately, works for me, but takes a little trial and error.   That process especially works great with frozen White Castles.

What’s my verdict?  They’re OK.  As I feared, nothing resembling the restaurant product, but most of these heat and eat burgers are pretty similar in my experience, and opinion, no matter the brand or the price point.

I suppose the “hook” is convenience.  Single people who don’t want to cook, a harried mom needing a quick snack for the kids.  Burger snobs won’t give them a thought.

Moms might want to reconsider, now that I just read the nutrition info –  490 calories with over half of those from fat.  Probably not good.

Update: I walked by a Steak N Shake restaurant inside a Mississippi casino recently, and noted the signage now says ” “Steak ‘n Shake by Biglari.” Sadar Biglari is head of the private equity fund that currently controls Steak N Shake. At first, I thought, “well that’s arrogant, it’s not like using Dior or something – Biglari hasn’t designed custom gourmet burgers or anything.”  And then I read it’s a licensing deal. By putting his name on the restaurants, the “owner” has to pay him a licensing fee for use of his name. Even if the chain is sold. That’s pretty slimy, even for private equity.

Steak N Shake Frozen Burger Review

Steak N Shake Frozen Burger Review

 

 

 

 

Steak N Shake Frozen Burgers Review

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Walgreens $1 Cheeseburger (Gas Station Food)

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Walgreen's $1 CheeseburgerI guess Walgreens decided they needed to compete with the Dollar Store’s $1 cheeseburger. Or the McDouble? Walgreen’s is the world’s largest drug store chain, with over 8,000 locations in all 50 states, PR and Guam. It started in Chicago in 1901. I’m sure the founders wouldn’t recognize today’s version, which, to me, in most states, are really liquor stores with a prescription counter.

In the 1980s, they started a chain of diner/pancake houses, along the lines of Ihop and Dennys. At the peak, there were over one hundred of them, but somebody got a bug up their butt and sold the chain to Marriott Corporation in 1990.

I’m thinking the older stores had lunch counters, tho, maybe 40 years ago or so. Many drug stores were combo soda fountains, instead of liquor stores. Hmmm, maybe they should put in bars?

In 2010, Walgreen’s started an initiative to stock a wider selection of healthier fresh foods and produce, particularly since some quantity of their stores were located in “food deserts” (areas without a major grocery in a convenient radius).

I haven’t seen one of those stores, they are mostly in inner cities, I understand, and the Walgreens I frequent is in an area that is the antithesis of “inner city.”

“Nice” is their store brand for snack foods, candy, cookies, chips, ice cream and the like, and they have started to add frozen heat and eat convenience foods under this line – pizzas, eggrolls, and the $1 cheeseburger. (I call this kind of product “gas station food’…it’s not derogatory).

It’s 4.6 ounces, and has a pile of carbs, and is ready to go after 60 seconds in the microwave. It compares favorably to other similar products I have sampled. The patty has an OK texture, ‘grill flavoring’, and the sesame bun is quite substantial (tho you can see the effects of my thumbs in the foto).

A toss up with other gas station sandwiches, but better than the McDouble.  You’ll find plenty of reviews of frozen burgers on this website by entering “frozen burgers” or “gas station” in  the search box to the upper left.

Walgreens Frozen Burger

Walgreen's Cheeseburger

 

 

 

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Home Cookin’ – Fatburger Frozen Hamburger Patties

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Fatburger is a fast casual hamburger chain, which was launched and is headquartered in Southern California.   The original restaurant was opened by Lovie Yancey in 1948, and was called “Mr. Fatburger” for the first several years.

Until recently, the chain has been mostly California-centric, but a limited amount of growth has come from international franchises.   There have been a number of celebrity investors who at one time or another opened franchised outlets, most of which did not survive.

I’ve never understood why this chain didn’t explode with growth.  It’s a good product, limited menu.  Burgers, fries, rings, shakes.   The burgers can be customized by adding additional patties and toppings like chili, cheese, guac, peppers.  The fresh, not frozen,  burger patties are cooked on a flat top until a crusty surface occurs, which is very appealing to me personally.  The shakes are hand-scooped real ice cream.  What’s not to like?

Like most franchise operations, the company is not so much in the business of operating actual restaurants, but rather, selling franchises, supplying them, and making sure they comply with corporate mandates.   As such, a company like that has a single asset, the proprietary value of its name and image, and tries to find different ways to exploit that property to create additional revenue.

I can’t say for sure which restaurant chain was the first one to place product in grocery stores, bearing their name, but it’s hard not to bump into that kind of thing today.  Off the top of my head, I’ve seen Marie Callenders, TGI Fridays,  Burger King, Taco Bell, Chili’s  Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and at one time, Stouffer’s was a restaurant.  There are many more.

Lo and behold, Fatburger licenses its name, image for frozen burger patties.  This kind of surprised me, because the product is a six pack of 1/3 pound patties, and ‘thick’ burgers are really not a Fatburger thing.  The deal seems exclusive to Wal Mart, and at $7.99, comes out to four bucks a pound, steep for ground beef.  (I have previously reviewed a number of different brands of frozen burgers). The product is apparently distributed (manufactured?)  by a separate Los Angeles company and I wasn’t able to find very much info on that concern.  The USDA ‘sticker’ did not have an establishment number on it; that number identifies the plant where the product was made.

The stove top grilling instructions call for 14 minutes at medium heat, turning frequently.  That’s distinctively different than most frozen patties that I have tested.  The most common set of instructions call for throwing the frozen patty in a pan, cooking on one side til ‘blood runs through’, and flipping it for another short period.   The exception of course would be pre-cooked patties, like Ball Park.

The packaging inside the box is a single cello pack, non-resealable;  I would prefer patties are individually wrapped if the package isn’t resealable.  The burgers are separated by “patty paper” but the flash-freeze process can still make the patties stick together.

Fatburger Frozen PattyThe raw patty in the pan is pictured at left.  It is manufactured to look like it is hand-formed, but there have been patty making machines in plants that have accomplished that for quite some time.   I’ve never seen a frozen patty that wasn’t ‘dimpled’, and this one is no exception.

The ingredients listed on the box are:  beef, and seasoning salt.  It seems from the way the ingredients are printed, that the seasoning salt is made up of salt, spices, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, onion, and canola oil.   So they are saying what’s in your patty is beef and salt.  Wow.  That’s a departure from most similar products.  Which is a good thing.

I went with the entire suggested 14 minutes, to witness the outcome as directed on the packaging.  It has an pleasant enough look, and the flavor is good, there’s no hint of artificial smoke here, some companies use that to emulate grill flavor.  The grind is of average size, and is appealing.  I’d say the Fat frozen is in the top three of all the ones I’ve tested.   Of course, it’s no substitute for hitting my favorite locations when I am in L.A.   I like the Venice and Van Nuys locations, personally.

The only time I purchase frozen burgers is to test them out, but I’d be ok with having these in my freezer regularly.

Fatburger Frozen Hamburger

Cooked Fatburger Frozen Patty

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AM/PM – Arco Gas Stations Ready to Eat Burgers & Dogs

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I have opined on my take on AM/PM Mini Mart ready to eat foods in the past, my opinion hasn’t changed – adequate hot food, great value proposition.

There are few dollar menus that can beat the proposition AM/FM has to offer – two hot dogs for $1.50, two larger dogs or burgers for $2.50.  It’s a “dress your own” affair with a condiment bar that offers pickle chips, relish, mayo, mustard, ketchup, jalapenos, cheese, and chili.  Some stores have diced onions as well.

My affair with this food started in Los Angeles in the mid-80s, occasionally I would grab two burgers for breakfast (seems like they were 2/ $1 at the time, IIRC,  and while the price has edged up a little, the quality has improved by light years. (Not that they were bad then, just that heat and eat technology has improved.

I had a dog and a burger yesterday, $2.50.   The ultimate of “dining in on  the hood’.

I like ’em.  So sue me.  “Hey kids, wanna go out to dinner?”

AM/PM Gas Station Burgers

 

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Amtrak – Cascades Limited Train Cafe Car

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The first time I was on a commercial train in the US, I was about 8, and we were on a family ski vacation, taking the (then) mighty Empire Builder from Minnesota to Montana.  At the time, I recall my father telling me the reason we took the train, is he wanted us to have that experience “before it disappeared.”  Apparently he could see the future of train travel in the US, and the type of service we experienced on those family trips certainly has become a thing of the past.

Back in those days, Amtrak was all about service, and we had a personal porter that attended to our needs in our sleeping compartments, and the train had both a “bar car” and a separate dining car, where meals were prepared to order,  food was served with silver, china, and crystal by white gloved servers.

Nowadays….not so much.

We were taking the Cascades Limited from Portland to Seattle for a short biz trip, and while overall service was perfunctory, and the trip was more relaxing than driving, and one can work via free wifi, the “dining service’ has turned into a self-serve counter offering the equivalent of airline meals, at restaurant prices.  The upside for those who partake, is beer and wine is available; you can eat and drink in the dining car, or take your food to your seat.

Sidebar:  one wonders why the same security precautions that are so important at airports aren’t in place on trains?  No security, no baggage checks, no ID requests.

We had a cheeseburger, cheese tray, wine, some salty snack mix. Sandwiches, pastries, salads and snack items like hummus were also available.  The cheeseburger ran $6, wine was $14 for a split.

The cheeseburger was a microwave affair, and really not  bad.  By coincidence, our new best friend seatmates on the return trip had the cheeseburger as well, and she pronounced it “better than a gas station burger” (under her breath) and that’s exactly how I would have described it, and of course set us off on a long discussion of both ‘gas station’ burger and sandwiches.

It’s a step up from the 7-Eleven “Big Az” burger (previously reviewed), and was ample in size, beefy, on a very soft bakery roll.  The fact they could get a hamburger roll out of a microwave to taste and feel like that was the most interesting aspect of my sandwich.  I didn’t make note of the manufacturer, but for a nuked burger, it’s a respectable offering.

Amtrak Cheeseburger

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