Arby’s has dreamed up a Big Game Burger that has nothing to do with a big football game.
The star of this burger is game … wild game. For a limited time only, the restaurant group is offering a huge burger made with ground venison, elk and beef.
It’s not the first time Arby’s has gone where no other fast-food chain ventures. In 2017, Arby’s sold a venison steak sandwich for one day only at all U.S. locations, and the special sold out quickly. The chain has also sold game in what it calls “hunting-centric” states like Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.
Last year the restaurants sold a Wagyu burger blend, and the customer response was impressive, with the supply at some locations selling out early. That patty was a blend of 48% ground beef and 52% American Wagyu, which is a cross between Japanese Wagyu and top American cattle breeds.
“We’re dedicated to crafting unique culinary experiences for our guests,” said Ellen Rose, chief marketing officer for Arby’s, in announcing the Big Game Burger.
This year’s menu surprise is made with a 34% venison, 33% elk and 33% ground beef blend and topped with Swiss cheese, crisp onion strings, sweet garlic and dill pickles and a dark cherry steak sauce, and served on a toasted brioche bun. Like the venison steak sandwich, this patty is cooked sous vide style, then finished off at each Arby’s location to heat it through and give it a crispy exterior.
We headed to Sunnyvale, California, home to one of the few Arby’s remaining in the greater Bay Area (there are also locations in Fairfield and Tracy) for a taste test.
The Big Game Burger is priced at $11.99 in the Bay Area, but it’s a big burger, all right, between a third and half a pound. The patty has a rich flavor, with just a hint of wild game. It’s tender and, surprisingly, still a little pink inside. The additions are smart ones — berry sauces are a classic pairing with venison, and the Swiss cheese worked.
I’d frankly be interested in trying a blend with more wild-game flavor and less beef in the blend. And, of course, freshly grilling the Big Game Burger would result in a moister, better product. Overall, it’s worth customers giving it a try.
On TikTok, there were mixed reactions from the guys who review fast food from their cars after a spin through the drive-thru. “The Endorsement” gave it 79 points out of 100. “PapiEats” said “it’s not bursting with gamey flavor,” but praised the sauce, pickles, cheese and even the bun. “Rhody Foody” got a seriously overcooked version in Virginia; the Swiss cheese helped temper the char, he said.