Henry Cram and Justin Cram work for KCET and love burgers. This is their story.
The final night of Burger Week honored that celebrated, seasonal McDonald's classic: The McRib. The McRib's hype transcends any actual qualities of goodness, and over the years it has gained a cult following, making it a perfect target for The Oinkster. There are those who love it and those who want to see it wiped from this planet. More shoulder than rib meat, the McRib pork is ground into a paste and pressed into rib-shaped forms before being slathered with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and topped with chopped onions and pickle slices. All of this on top of a lifeless hoagie-style bun. We headed to The Oinkster knowing full well that this was going to be, at the very least, a wildly interesting interpretation of the fast food classic.
The line stretched beyond the parking lot and down a residential street. Neighbors were coming out of their houses to see where everybody was headed. This was no surprise as the McRib tribute was the most anticipated burger of the week, according to many of the patrons we had spoken to. Also, being the last day of Burger Week, there were many who just wanted to participate in the event.
Those who had been participating all week would soon be ordering their final burgers; Their wrists would be liberated from the wristbands and they would receive their commemorative t-shirts. It was our turn to order. We raised our wrists above the counter and the cashier produced a pair of Fiskars with which he carefully severed the bands from our bodies.
"What size shirt?" asked the noble cashier.
We did some quick calculations. "Large."
We were given our t-shirts and walked proudly to the patio, catching the eye of those waiting in line.
"Let's see!" A voice from the crowd demanded.
I removed the rubber band and unrolled it; held it up for all to see.
"Nice!" bellowed another voice. Those who had been standing in line for up to an hour seemed rejuvenated by the sight of the shirt.
We found a spot on the patio and waited for the final burger of The Oinkster's Third Burger Week. We spotted the red baskets bouncing through the crowd towards us. It was time.
The Oinkster's McRibster
According to one of the managers, the preparation involved smoking the meat two days ahead of time to make sure it was tender enough to de-bone.
The French bread was crunchy and warm. The meaty rib was lean and tender and shredded easily. The deep red, sweet, tangy barbecue sauce was used sparingly and accented the meat perfectly. The vinegary pickle made my mouth water as I took bite after bite of the sandwich. It bared little resemblance to its predecessor. It was a delicious rib sandwich.
We wiped barbecue sauce from our faces and quickly vacated our table. The crowd at The Oinkster was getting larger and we did not want to inhibit anyone from enjoying their McRibster to the fullest.
On our way to the car a man ran up to us in the street and asked us if we had tried it yet. Yes, of course, and yes, it was worth standing in line for.
We set a course for Burger King. McDonalds' McRib is still out of season so the new McRib knock-off at Burger King would be acting as stand-in for comparison purposes.
Burger King's Rib Sandwich
The Burger King Rib Sandwich is part of their menu's summer lineup and is "flame-grilled," which does impart a genuine smokiness (or perhaps that's liquid smoke?).
The barbecue sauce was much more prevalent in this sandwich due to the meat's homogenized texture and flavor. The bread and butter pickles were a bit too sweet. If you're hankering for a McRib and just can't wait for it to come back you can head over to Burger King for a similar boneless pork sandwich. We did not linger at Burger King.
The verdict: No comparison for The Oinkster's McRib tribute. It was a true spare rib sandwich. McDonalds' McRib is a pressed meat patty that only resembles pork rib in shape. Between Burger King's new Rib Sandwich and the McRib, I even would choose the Burger King, actually.
Burger Week was fantastic this year. We met a lot of like-minded food fans and had a blast comparing and contrasting the tirelessly worked-out creations. Many thanks to The Oinkster and to our editor for letting us take the plunge.
Long live the Burgerlords.
Words by Henry, photos by Justin.
2005 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock, CA 90041