Fast Food Review: Fish McBites

By Luke Y. Thompson in Food & Drink
Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Fish McBites.jpg

It's brave of McDonald's to name this product what they did. It totally opens it up for customers everywhere to say, "Hey McDonald's, your fish McBITES!" But I'm proud of them for it, because it's been a while since they found a way to gratuitously insert the word "Mc" into a new product name. I think McCafe was the last, and that's technically a product range rather than an individual item.



So anyway, this is part of the general Lenten rush that fast food companies do to get seafood-flavored items out there and appease the Catholic demographic, which is apparently of major importance since they all do it, without actually acknowledging it's a Lent thing. Coincidentally - I think - this is also the time of year that Quizno's and Rubio's do langostino for a limited time, all the while acting like they have prime Maine lobster for an affordable price when it's really closer to crawdad.

McDonald's, however, is the House of Bland (that's what the name for McDonald's in Swahili actually literally translates to, ever since a second ago when I just made that up), so no lobsters big or small will darken their gleaming arches [EDIT: except in Canada and Maine, it seems. Holy tail-spin! - h/t arrivalscientist]. Instead, these breaded nuggets made from "wild Alaskan pollock" will have to do. And I admit it, they look bad. I was not looking forward to this meal at all. You generally know what you're getting with fast food or TV dinner-quality fish, and it's a dry, chewy thing.

Not so much this time. Once you bite through the breading, these things practically melt in your mouth, so much so that I have my doubts about how "wild" their source is. These feel like soft and lazy fish; either that, or heavily processed. But when you can't rely on taste (and this being McDonald's, of course you can't, because every item tastes the same), texture matters. And texture is what'll induce you to suck these down, proving the McBites name faulty in yet another way - honestly, a toothless person could consume them with little difficulty.

The idea to make these flavorful is to add dipping sauce, but while every McNugget sauce flavor can be had if you specifically request it, the box for Fish McBites practically insists on tartar, which you must "plunge" the fried snack into.

You would think, given this knowledge, that there would be tartar sauce on-hand at my local McDonald's...but only if you've never been to my local McDonald's, where they've messed up my order three out of the last three times I used the drive-thru (I hate drive-thrus, but Julia hates eating in - and loves McDonald's - so guess who usually wins). Anyway, the tartar sauce request sent the kitchen staff into a...wait for it...McFlurry! (Metaphorically, of course - they didn't actually take a flying leap into ice cream, but they should have.) Finally, some was found by the drive-thru window (yes, I was eating in, and solo, on this particular night).

It's fair enough, this tartar sauce, but I also recommend the sweet chili, just because the meal itself isn't unhealthy enough and needs spicy syrup added to rot your teeth as well. I probably shouldn't have had the "shareable" size all to myself, but it was late, like 10 p.m. late, and I hadn't eaten dinner. I had, in point of fact, gone to a screening super-tired, and tried to buzz myself awake with Rolos and caramel cashews. So a healthy night all-around. Maybe some liquor will clear out the arteries.

You might have deduced that I'm not Catholic. The spirit of self-deprivation certainly did not prevail, unless you consider that I probably wouldn't have eaten at McDonald's at all had I not needed a review idea, and thus I deprived myself of something better, like Cup Noodles.

Nahh, who am I kidding. I had to have them sooner or later, even if it risks the wrath of Omicron Persei 8. And while they're an improvement on the Filet O' Fish in some ways, I do miss the cheese; in fact, I'd like to see these served like Sonic chili cheese tots, smothered in melty cheese and tartar sauce on a plate. But that's dreaming the McImpossible dream.


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