Never one to let past failures stand in the way, McDonald’s is spoiling hard again for the refined epicurean’s business. In fact, the chain has two new game plans this very week, one on each coast: A crab sandwich is being tested at a couple Bay Area locations, and New York City has become the unwitting recipient of America’s first stand-alone McCafé, the fancier Starbucks-y concept that’s also made a debut in Canada and France.
USA Today says the crab sandwich, available at just four stores right now, is another attempt to “tap into the Bay Area food scene,” like it did with Gilroy garlic fries, which were inexplicably a hit last year. The sandwich is simple — crab meat, celery, and seasoned mayo on a sourdough bun, with romaine and sliced tomato. McDonald’s enlisted local chef Ryan Scott, a Top Chef alum who — not kidding — hosts a show on the Live Well Network, to make it palatable. Unfortunately, McDonald’s is also cheap, so they settled on the “economic” choice — snow crab — for a dish catering to people in San Francisco, home of Dungeness crabs (the species James Beard called “sheer unadulterated crab heaven”). If tests do prove this thing popular, though, McDonald’s says it could roll out at 250 Bay Area locations later this year.
Meanwhile, over in America’s other culinary capital, the Daily News yesterday stopped by America’s first McCafé at the corner of 28th Street and Sixth Avenue in Chelsea. The paper reports that while “it’s no Dominique Ansel,” the wannabe patisserie’s baked goods all cost $1.29 or less, so they’re at least a steal compared to Le Pain Quotidien’s. The pastry case has fancy lighting, fresh croissants, and an item called a Muffin Topper (which … just … c’mon, McDonald’s). The store is an airy, minimalist space designed by Patrick Norguet, the French architect who did Paris’s McCafé on the Champs-Élysées. Franchisee P.J. Fonseca explains that it “emphasizes simplicity to set the stage for a different kind of McDonald’s experience.”
A spokesperson tells the Daily News that New Yorkers should expect to see more of these sleeper Mickey D’s popping up around town in the “near future.”