Friday, September 30, 2011

Across the Border: Kings Cross: Food: McDonalds

If you're a grown up, like I pretend to be, there is really only one way to eat the food at the McDonalds chain of restaurants: drunk. 
Some might not even call it food. And some might say drunk is not enough. But in the spirit of this blog, I will admit that I became drunk recently and I ate at McDonalds and now I am recording it here for the sake of history.
The one thing I will not divulge, however, is the lovely person who joined me on my late night burger binge. At least I will let them retain some of their dignity.
We had been drinking at the Darlo Bar - one of many such recent celebrations that have been held to toast a big change in my life, which I will tell you about next week.
As the night progressed, I urged my dear friend to order some food from the Darlo Bar menu, which is efficiently delivered from two nearby restaurants: S. Thada Thai and The Burger Joint. 
But my friend insisted that they had already eaten and so we kept on drinking until last beers were called and we found ourselves out on Darlinghurst Road, just after midnight, with stomachs rumbling.
"French fries!'' I said.
''Must have French fries!"
And so we toddled down Darlinghurst Road to the Kings Cross strip and wobbled into McDonalds - the only place selling French fries that was open at such a time.

The first McDonalds restaurant opened in Illinois, in the United States, way back in 1955, by a chap called Ray Kroc and was immensely successful. Sixteen years later the first franchise opened in Australia at Yagoona, in Sydney's west.
Today there are over 780 stores across Australia, employing around 85,000 people. Worldwide there are more than 30,000 McDonalds in 120 countries. 
McDonalds pioneered the fast food franchise system and in 1978 introduced the first drive-through restaurant in Australia, which was at Warrawong, on the state's south coast.
It must have been around that time, or in the 1980s, that the Kings Cross outlet opened on Darlinghurst Road. 
The Kings Cross outlet is pretty much open 24 hours, save for a 15-minute period around 4am when the cleaners go in, so it is very popular with late night revellers.
You can complain all you like about McDonalds, but no one is forcing you to eat there. And for many years I didn't; only breaking my 18-year boycott in 2008 when I was stuck in the boonies of NSW with nowhere else to eat. 
The menu has not changed much in the past 30 years. French fries taste exactly the same, but a few years back in a token nod to healthy eating, McDonalds introduced burgers that contained less fat and more green stuff. 

So you basically line up at the counter, check the light-box menus that drop down from the ceiling and order your food, which generally takes less than two minutes. It's all about speed. 
The best thing to do is order one of the meals, which cost about $8 and includes a burger, fries and some ghastly post-mixed soft drink that tastes like sugar-water and is low on fizz. If you try ordering the items separately, without the drink, I think it actually costs more, so just go with the meal.
The food comes in either a brown paper bag or on a tray.

The McDonalds's dining area is pretty much the same in any restaurant you go to around the world. The furniture is screwed into the tiled floor, the tables are laminated and the seats swivel.
There is usually always one staff member wandering around cleaning up people's abandoned French fries and peeling off gherkins that have been pegged at the wall. You can see him in the picture below:

For my drunken binge I ordered a McChicken meal (below). The burger contained a "chicken" patty, lettuce and mayonnaise. A few slices of tomato would have been a nice addition. I ate all my fries, but could not stomach the post-mix Coca-Cola and ended up dragging it home, whereupon it was discovered the next morning sitting on the sink; a sad reminder of the night before.

My friend ordered the McDonalds signature burger, the Big Mac, which has three slices of burger bun, two patties, lettuce and mayonnaise. It was gone in about 60 seconds:

As I opened up my cardboard burger contained I noticed this printed on the inside of the lid:

"Did you know your McChicken Burger is part of a tick approved meal? Simply add a Garden Salad, choose a small orange juice or bottled water and you will be making a Tick approved healthier choice at McDonalds.''

So basically if I didn't eat the fries, my burger and its 18.7 grams of fat would be healthy? I find that idea quite hilarious, especially considering McDonalds pays the Heart Foundation $300,000 each year to use the "Tick". 
This week the Heart Foundation also withdrew from the arrangement with McDonalds, amid speculation the $300,000 deal had destroyed the foundation's reputation
I don't know why McDonalds bothers with the healthy food push, seeing as anyone who has any notion about nutrition would never darken the fast food franchises's doors. Unless of course, they are drunk.

45-47 Darlinghurst Road
Kings Cross NSW 2010
02 9358 4400


Dalia said...

as much as i like your blog, as much as i really dislike this post... it is not about the health-issue, which is an individual matter (to some extent). and i realize you don't go to mcdonald's every day. but one thing that i feel needs to be noted when discussing mcdonalds is the effect of the franchise on agriculture. the russet burbank potato is the clearest example of how mcd's fries have lead to the creation of mass monoculture, which has devastating effects in a variety of ways (everything from higher use of pesticides to the colony collapse disorder). so i feel the need to mention that in going to mcd's one is not only partaking in unhealthy practices for herself, but also supporting monoculture. (and this of course doesn't only hold for mcdonalds, but for any fast food chain.)
here from michael pollan:
"...To put the matter baldly, a farmer like Heath is working very hard to adjust his fields and his crops to the nature of nature, while farmers like Forsyth are working equally hard to adjust nature in their fields to the requirement of monoculture and, beyond that, to the needs of the industrial food chain. I remember asking Heath what he did about net necrosis, the bane of Forsyth’s existence. ”That’s only really a problem with Russet Burbanks,” he said. ”So I plant other kinds.” Forsyth can’t do that. He’s part of a food chain — at the far end of which stands a long, perfectly golden McDonald’s fry — that demands he grow Russet Burbanks and little else."
Full article:

Violet Tingle said...

Totally agree with you Dalia, which is why I boycotted it for 18 years.

Dalia said...

great--and sorry about my rant: being back in States, these things are always in my face, and my moral indignation increases 10fold.

Violet Tingle said...

I like your rant. Vx

Anonymous said...

The Cold Chisel song Breakfast at Sweethearts is about the cafe Sweethearts that used to be in the place where McDonalds now exists.

Arnold. said...

I like poor old maccas. It kept me alive when the Astoria restaurant closed. And many of the regulars drifted to it . During the Bloody Bicentenial it was about the only place you could get a seat and a sometimes decent feed at a reasonable price. I know it's trendy to slag them off but they've kept millions alive worldwide and their RMH charity is a godsend to needy families. In the 80's their rooftop garden was one of the little known gems of the cross. It had potted trees , shrubs, and water features, and a great view over darlo rd to watch the colourful goings on. But public liability concerns made them close it to the public. And junkies shooting up in the downstairs toilets and passing out made maccas close them to.
Maccas used to be quite the place to do some Star spotting too. And I feel sorry for the poor bloody staff, they have to put up with a lot of crap.
Sweethearts was across the road and down a bit towards the fountain. They did a good cinnamon toast and was a nice place to go but a couple of very public murders in the premises encouraged the owners to close. Shame.

Robert said...

Kings X McDonald's was my first job back in 1982-83. Then I left for Europe and haven't been there since. I truly enjoyed Arnold's comment how it was in the 80's as it brought back many memories. The rooftop was the place where I got my job as the initial meetings with candidates were always there. I tried to get a job at other stores but was too old at 17teen. Only this store offered jobs for the “elderly” cause of the district.
We had a great bunch there. Back in the 80’s on weekdays the store was open till 1 am only. We would finish work at 3 and go to one of the nearby pubs for a couple of beers. We met off work and had a great time together. My thoughts often go to Lisa, Mark, Mat and Fran. It would be great to get back in touch with them. Can someone help, please? Robert

Arnold. said...

Good on you Robert. Maybe try contacting Macca's on their website? Or maybe ask Ben at the photo shop ( if it's still there )He's about the only one left who remembers the old days.