About the joint
With it's family member naming scheme and 50's retro stylings, and frosted mugs, A&W has certainly established a unique and memorable brand. While it might not enjoy the same wide spread domination as McDonalds or Wendy's, A&W brings something truly different to the National Joint stage.
What most people don't know, is that A&W is a separately run franchise in Canada, as it is in the USA.
Who doesn't love teens?
by benjamin on July 30th, 2012
A&W has always been somewhat of an enigma to me. They're a national brand who runs plenty of TV spots so their place on the burger landscape is fairly secure. At the same time, they're elusive. Beyond the odd food court or random strip mall, the scarcity of their locations might lead one to believe that they are, in fact, not a large chain (apparently, they have a much stronger presence out West). Their aesthetic clearly smacks of a large food corporation; slightly off-putting colours, kitschy typography, and a tad too much whimsy. Perhaps a lot too much whimsy. It's one thing to call something a Momma Burger... it's another to have a 50's style illustration to match. Of course this kind of kitsch is entirely intentional, and one wonders if it's precisely because of these nostalgic touches that A&W has managed to claw it's way into the public consciousness, and stay there, even when a location can hardly ever be found.
Or maybe it's the frosted mugs.
Whatever it is, it certainly isn't the food.
That sounds harsher than I mean it. Let me explain. On this occasion I derbed a Teen Burger. It came on a sesame seed bun, with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles (derbists familiar with my reviews know that I promptly remove the vegetables from all burgs, except tomato, on the rare occassion).
As you can tell from the photo, it actually looks like a solid burg; the same cannot be said for most national chains! The burg was not remotely greasy, but this may or may not be a good thing. I think it's a slight negative, as a touch of grease is often a sign of flavour. Even the most exquisite gourmet burgs like Allen's or Umami have a sheen to them. This burg seemed, perhaps, too dry. If you don't like grease, eat a quiche or quinoa salad.
The bun was a bit of a surprise. Very good indeed.
The thing about this burg is that it tasted like typical, backyard grill fare. A run of the mill burg. This, of course, can not be said for the somewhat bizarre "brand flavours" some other national joints like McDonalds and Burger King have. A&W represents a kind burg law of averages, perhaps in keeping with their perceived brand. I imagine this is the kind of burg you would have had in your uncle's back yard on a summer afternoon in the 50's, made from frozen patties purchased from the newly opened IGA. Who knows.
Of course, the burg was underwhelming when compared to gourmet offerings. Compared to most national joints, however, I thought it was a welcome change. While A&W would never be my first choice, if there were a McDonalds next door, there would not even be a question of where I'd rather derb: for a national joint, A&W offers a decent burg.