Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bowie Restaurant Project: (21) McDonald's (Bowie Gateway) and (22) McDonald's (Bowie Office Park)

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

For this post, I am adopting Martin's suggestion of grouping all of the establishments in a particular chain together.

Five or more years ago, Christina and I decided to stop eating at McDonald's. Because the food is awful, mainly. Before this project, I think I had broken that rule four or five times -- when I was desperate for a bathroom, a Coke, or in one misguided instance, some fries.

McDonald's, 4306 North Crain Highway

Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 10/5/2011
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: Yes
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

To have more of a full experience, I decided to go in rather than use the drive-thru. Remarkably, despite the long line of cars idling outside, nobody was waiting at the counter. My order required four pieces of information -- the number, whether or not it was a "meal" (I guess that's the latest version of "would you like fries with that?"), the size, and given that the meal was McNuggets, what sort of sauce I wanted. The order was taken by a McDonald's employee, who was assisted by a manager. Despite the fact that they had two people working on the order, every piece of information was repeated back to me incorrectly at some point.

Open 24/7: A good thing?
The food was more or less as I remember it. I might buy some of the Hot Mustard sauce if I could eat it with something other than McDonald's food. The McNuggets tasted faintly of chicken. The fries were good until they got the slightest bit cold.

I noticed that both the lobby and drive-thru are open 24 hours. I almost gave a half-star bonus for this fact, but honestly, you'd be better off if it were closed more often.

McDonald's, 14300 Gallant Fox Lane
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 10/7/2011
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: In the 1980s
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
McDonald's, Gallant Fox Lane

I have memories of stopping here about 25 years ago on the way to The Magic Page, a nearby comic book shop which has long since disappeared. It makes me sad that The Magic Page is gone, but that this McDonald's remains as one of the oldest restaurants in Bowie.

For my modern-day visit, I adopted another one of Martin's ideas. At one point, he was boycotting McDonald's -- except during breakfast. I had fond memories of, in days with less responsibility, groggily stumbling out of the house and stopping by for a Bacon, Egg & Cheese biscuit on my way to work.

So after a rough night with the kids, I decided to treat myself to Second Breakfast at this McDonald's. As with the other one, I decided to go inside for the full experience. Here, however, there was a really long line, and I decided I didn't want the full experience. Now being overcrowded at 10 am (not peak meal time) either means the service is slow, or the demand is really high. I guess the latter should give it some sort of thumbs up, but I couldn't help wishing the people would find someplace better to go.

The drive-thru wasn't super-slow, but it was somewhat puzzling. You pull up to a screen and speaker, next to which is a menu, which did not show the breakfast options. The apparatus says, "Confirm Your Order Here." But you don't actually order there; there's another apparatus you pull up to later which says "Order Here".

Other than that, the ordering experience was fine. The Bacon, Egg & Cheese biscuit was really disappointing, though. I think at this stage in life, I've realized that when you have bacon, eggs, cheese and a biscuit, you've got potential for something really great to happen, which made this meal all the sadder.

This McDonald's also open 24 hours, which means that neither is fulfilling a unique service for 3 am eats. IHOP is also open 24 hours. Though I haven't reviewed it yet, I have to believe you'd be better off there.

So if you win, you can quit your job at McDonald's?
I visited both McDonald's in the middle of their Monopoly promotion. (Tip: the "rare" pieces are always the last ones alphabetically, except for Broadway.) Thankfully, I didn't instant-win anything, so I don't feel compelled to go back to redeem it. But I noticed next to the $1 million prize they were advertising were the words, "No More Second Job." So if you get Boardwalk ("the approximate odds of collecting Boardwalk are 1 in 618,106,200"), you can look forward to...only working one job? Yay, America?

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