Advance Taste Test: Carl’s Jr. Is Coming To Australia

US hamburger chain Carl’s Jr. has announced plans to expand to Australia. To give you an idea of what’s coming, we headed to the chain’s downtown San Francisco branch to test out one of its signature burgers: the Big Carl.

Having already expanded from its West Coast origins into New Zealand, Carl’s Jr. has set Australia as its next target. The first stores will open on the NSW Central Coast later this year, with 10 set to open across the state in 2014 (though none will be in Sydney).

The marketing for Carl’s Jr. is unashamedly sexist; our sibling site Business Insider acknowledges it as the home of the “slutburger”. Any chain which hires Paris Hilton for its ads is not aiming upmarket, let’s face it. Here’s a typical sample:

Marketing aside, however, we’re talking something that’s very much in the same space as McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s in terms of menu options. One attempt at differentiation is the “Six Dollar Burger”, which claims better quality than your typical takeout slab of beef (a tactic also used locally by Macca’s with its “A Little Bit Fancy” campaign”).

Some US stores also offer table service: after ordering your burger to eat in, it will be delivered to your seat. I’ve tried this out in Los Angeles, and I have to say it beats standing around waiting for a number to be called.

In the end, though, what you eat is what matters. Since I’m currently in San Francisco (for Microsoft’s Build conference), I headed to the nearest Carl’s Jr. to test out a burger for the benefit of Lifehacker Australia readers. The obvious option seemed to be a Big Carl, and that’s what I went with, choosing the meal option.

Three observations:

  • A large US drink is ridiculously, moronically large. You could host a pool party in this thing. For the sake of your waistline, choose a diet option. (Though I doubt the Australian store drinks will be quite so bladder-expanding.)
  • I like that the fries show evidence of potato skin. Most Australian fast-food fries make their factory origins all too clear. Again, I don’t doubt these ones were machine-cut, but at least the fibre content is higher.
  • The burger itself is satisfactory, but entirely unremarkable. Bread, beef, cheese, sauce; it never varies that much, does it? As something of a US Carl’s Jr. veteran, I’d suggest the Jalapeno Thickburger if that comes to Australia.

Score: 7/10

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