A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… well, OK, it wasn’t really that long ago — just yesterday, in fact; and it wasn’t that far away, either — just up the road in Apache Junction, the site I picked to try Denny’s new Solo: A Star Wars Story “Blaster Fire Burger.”
‘Why choose the Apache Junction location?’ you ask. Simple: It’s the one spot on Earth that most resembles that infamous Tatooine hive of scum and villainy, Mos Eisley, the place where our galaxy was first introduced to a half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder named Han Solo way back in 1977.
Unless you’ve been hanging in a Wampa cave on the ice-planet of Hoth, you know that the Han Solo origin tale, Solo: A Star Wars Story, is set to hit theaters on May 25, 2018; and Denny’s has recently rolled out a new set of menu items that are loosely based on the premise of the highly-anticipated prequel film.
The “Solo” menu includes a “Co-Reactor Pancake Breakfast” with strawberry sauce and some sort of confections that sound a lot like Pop-Rocks; a “Lightspeed Slam” for those watching their weight; and a heavier breakfast selection called the “Two Moons Skillet.”
But the item I was most interested in was the “Blaster Fire Burger,” which Denny’s describes as “Chipotle Gouda cheese, bacon and spicy Ghost Pepper sauce top a hand-pressed 100% beef patty. Served with lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun and with a choice of side.”
Sounds delicious, but at 1,150 calories (plus another 850 for the Bacon Cheddar Tots that were paired with the burger on the menu photo), one thing was for sure… I was not gonna be a lot thinner!
To wash my Blaster Fire Burger down, I also ordered a Coke in one of Denny’s spiffy “Limited Edition Collector Cups” with a lid that resembles the Millennium Falcon. The cups feature one of four characters from the upcoming film: Chewbacca, Qi’ra, Lando Calrissian and, of course, actor Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo. I went for the Chewbacca cup, which was already sold out, and, disappointed, I ended up with Han Solo instead.
The cups are $3.99 and are supposed to include the drink. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until I had already paid and returned home that I was also charged $2.49 for the Coke inside the cup. A total of $6.48 is pretty pricey for what amounts to a regular-sized soda in not-the-cup-that-I-wanted, and it made me wonder if Jabba the Hutt might be involved with setting their price points. Was this Disneyland or Apache Junction?
As I waited for my lunch to arrive, I started having a bad feeling about this, especially the “spicy Ghost Pepper sauce” part. Maybe trying this dish had nothing to do with courage; it might end up being more like suicide. Surely it wouldn’t be as bad as I imagined it might be, but, then again, I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit. I had to keep reminding myself, ‘Everything’s under control. Situation normal.’
Finally, my Blaster Fire Burger arrived and the fun began. It sort of looked like the menu photo, with the exception of the Bacon Cheddar Tots that were mostly missing the crispy, protruding bacon bits that were prominent in the picture. Instead, they were rather flat and not that crispy at all.
I thought they smelled bad on the outside, but when I bit into one of the tots it was slimy and greasy and mushy on the inside, and it tasted more like onion than cheese or bacon or potato. A “slimy piece of worm-ridden filth” comes to mind, and I get no pleasure from saying that.
Those tots were pretty disgusting and I could only even stomach eating part of the fried outside of one or two of them. (If you try this yourself, I suggest just going with the regular – and .69 cents cheaper – French fries.)
Even though it was expensive, I was so glad I had that Han Solo soda to cleanse the taste of those tots… once again, Han saves the day – not a bad bit of rescuing.
Then it was time to dive into that scary burger, which had become even scarier after the tot incident. I had to remind myself of Han’s sage advice from Star Wars: Episode IV, “Get in there, you big furry oaf! I don’t care what you smell!”
The lettuce on my Blaster Fire Burger was wilted and lame, with some sort of dark-looking, alien-like veins running through it – and I don’t think that’s how it was supposed to look. I can’t guarantee that the lettuce had ever been cleaned.
The brioche bun was fresh, but the chipotle Gouda cheese was only partially melted. There didn’t appear to be a lot of the spicy Ghost Pepper sauce, and, as it turns out, that was a good thing. The biggest problem with this burger, both aesthetically and in its taste, was the allegedly hand-pressed 100 percent beef patty.
The burger part of this sandwich tasted like it had no seasoning whatsoever. No salt, no pepper, no spices from the mines of Kessel — nothing. In fact, by the dull-grayish tint of the burger’s interior, I would bet that it had been partially cooked earlier in the day and placed in a pan of water to soak, and then slightly seared on the grill before being delivered to my table.
In my book, a boiled and unseasoned beef patty does not a good hamburger make; and the spicy Ghost Pepper sauce made it taste even more disgusting. I’m not sure what Ghost Pepper sauce is supposed to taste like, but the blessedly conservative portion that was on my sandwich was not very spicy, it was mostly just sour tasting; and when coupled with the bland burger it was simply wretched.
Somehow, I did finish the whole thing – the burger that is – the consistency and taste of the tots made them inedible; and the whole time I was eating I kept thinking to myself, “You said you wanted to be around when I made a mistake, well, this could be it.”
On the way out I purchased a $3.00 pack of exclusive Solo: A Star Wars Story Topps Trading Cards and got a Chewbacca and an Argus “Six Eyes” Panox. The trading cards turned out to be the highlight of the experience as a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the charity, No Kid Hungry.
My total bill for this misadventure was $22.30, including tax and the $2.49 I was overcharged, but not counting the tip I left.
And this is my tip to you, dear burger lover: Instead of wasting your money on this dish, which tasted like it came out of a garbage chute on the Death Star, take your money and donate it directly to No Kid Hungry. I promise that you’ll feel a lot better on the inside.
Denny’s Blaster Fire Burger – Grade: 1/10