This will be the first of a series of reviews in which I embark on an exploration of the culinary heights of the best restaurants London has to offer. Prepare your taste-buds as we weave through the corridors of a city saturated with cultures that span the globe. Our first stop sees us visit ‘our neighbours from across the pond’ and revel in their mastery of meat and the humble potato.
I arrived at McDonald’s restaurant – Liverpool Street branch – on a cool spring evening. The sun hugged the skyline, semi-submerged, and set the sky on fire with shades of molten red. A kind cleaner held the door open as I entered – a great first impression. I was weary after travelling for an entire 25 minutes on the slower train from Cheshunt to Liverpool Street station – the express train usually takes a speedy 19 minutes, so you can understand how I was overcome by such a terrible malaise. Regardless, all was forgotten in that cleaner’s fresh and welcoming smile. He – his name was Michael – showed me to my table and offered to pull out my seat for me, however the seat was firmly budded to the floor – there was talk of a series of violent chair thefts in that particular area at the time. I was comfortable and my table was clean, apart from the homeless person seated opposite me. However, I managed to block out his grunting with the restaurant’s unique soundtrack of a roaring hip-hop beat, played from the phone loudspeakers of a group of youths on the table beside me.
McDonald’s pride themselves on their speedy service and my experience was no different. No sooner had I ordered my Big Mac burger (medium-rare) and american french fries there it laid in front of me. I must now note that this particular chain function on an “order at the counter, you fool” system, rather than the conventional table-waiting I have grown accustom to. Like the adaptive creature I am, I took to this with ease and was pleasantly surprised by the impeccable efficiency of this process. After calling for help from her manager six times, my waitress was able to enter my order. She – her name was Sandra – seemed just as inviting as Michael. Her wonderful greasy brunette locks tied neatly into a bun which seemed to stretch her face slightly. Behind the blemishes, she was beautiful.
I took my meal back to my table to find that the homeless man had fallen asleep across the table. Not letting this jade my experience, I decided to place my dinner tray on his back and tuck in. The homeless man’s soft breathing gave the illusion that my meal was bobbing on a collection of gentle waves – small details like this are what set McDonald’s apart from its competitors. The waves eased me into my meal and soothed me so much that I could not complain about my burger being overcooked. Usually, I would send meat back to the chef for such a culinary crime, however medium-rare was at the back of my mind as I was hit by the tantalizing sauces which burst from this parcel of flavour. Only an establishment with over 60 years in the food trade could come up with the master-stroke of mixing tomato ketchup and mayonnaise together to create such an elegant burger sauce. The potato fries were certainly fried and seemed to acquire the texture of well-marinated cardboard – a delicacy in some American states, I hear.
Unfortunately, my dining experience was cut short by a drunk couple who began to scream and disrupt the other diners – London is full of these colourful characters. I left the restaurant before the police were called and, on the whole, my time dining experience in this service-driven establishment was a pleasant one. From the extremely-stylised method of frying everything on the menu to the general ambiance which mirrored the frantic, time-oriented city it is situated in. McDonald’s is an artifact of London. It is a chain that links every street and every building. London, the fast food city.