There can be no doubt that McDonalds is trying to move up-market and change their image. Several things are noticeably different about this new location which has re-located a few hundred metres from the intersection of Ogilvie & Blair Roads in Ottawa’s East End (formerly Gloucester). Most prominently absent is the children’s playground. The space that it would have occupied has been taken up by what will become an outdoor patio in the spring. Lower leasehold costs and catering to a more mature clientele would seem to be the order of the day.
Another innovation is the (future) introduction of an in-store McCafé which will offer specialty coffees. It would appear that the interior décor was designed with this potential up-sell in mind. It may also not be a coincidence that a very successful and busy Tim Hortons is only a block away! The McCafé started in Australia almost a decade ago and the first Canadian stand-alone store was opened in Montreal in 2009. It appears that the Beacon Hill location will only offer the specialty coffees and not the snacks and pastries offered in some.
Just a couple of weeks ago, whiling away time in Frankfurt Airport, we sampled a full-blown McCafé with high-quality patisseries and pastries served on stylish (real) plates with stainless steel flatware. We were suitably impressed. I am not sure the Canadian watered-down version will hold much attraction though.
Since this location opened on Dec. 22nd, 2010, we have made two visits, both for breakfast. The first time, I ordered the breakfast burrito(s) and the second time, the new Cinnamon Melt. The burrito was a hit for me. A perfectly-sized portion with adequate filling – so many places leave you with a mass of soft taco with no filling at the end(s). The cinnamon melt was less of a success. I have long been a fan of Burger King’s Cinni-Mini’s and if McDonalds is trying to steal some business, I don’t think they will succeed. In short, too much relatively dry dough and not enough flavour!
In conclusion, I will give McDonalds top marks for their overall design both inside and out. The central fireplace is a specially pleasant new focal point and the large flatscreen TV tuned the News was another plus. However, this remains basically a fast-food burger joint. I’m not sure whether I should categorize it as a wolf in sheep’s clothing or merely mutton dressed up as lamb!