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Review: Maccas Manuka

Amanda Whitley

Ok. Let’s just be honest at the head of this article – this is a sponsored post tying in with the launch of the refreshed McDonald’s Manuka on Saturday 27 August.

But, as always, that doesn’t mean that everything we say isn’t 100% true.

We actually love McDonald’s. We know we are more likely to be reviewing the latest fine diner, but there are few things that get HC’s creative director, Javier, more excited than a Double Quarter Pounder with extra pickles. And our senior journalist, Laura, has told us many times that she would request eight Junior Burgers as her final meal.

I also have a very personal reason for being a Maccas fan, and it has nothing to do with french fries. My family — and the family of a very close friend — have been personally helped by the amazing Ronald McDonald House which provides a range of support to seriously ill children and their families when they need it most. I could not eat enough Big Macs to thank McDonald’s for everything they do for this organisation, as well as local schools, sporting and community groups.


But I digress. We decided to take the team to check out the shiny new Maccas Manuka to see what’s changed. In short — a lot. The restaurant recently completed its first full remodel since it was opened in 2000, now boasting: a custom design, a brand new McCafe, barista-made coffee available 24/7 in Canberra’s first full digital Drive Thru experience, and table delivery service for dine-in customers.

Sitting in the airy space with recycled exposed brick walls, Hoop Pine ceiling and steelwork, it’s certainly doesn’t feel like a Maccas, and the patrons are as diverse as the new menu. Schoolkids nipping in for a quick lunch sit alongside tradies and retirees, and it’s busy. Operations Manager, Vini, is kept busy running orders to tables and the whole restaurant is impeccably clean.

The food

We decided to take all five of the team along in the interests of showing variety (but also because none of us wanted to miss out) and it turns out we all wanted something different anyway.

Belinda (who is a huge salad fan) went for a Create Your Taste option, building a little number of Grilled Chicken, Halloumi, Jalapeños, Beetroot, Tomato, Cucumber and Lettuce with Balsamic Dressing (below).



I went for the Aussie Angus ‘n’ Egg (below) — basically because that’s always been my standard hamburger order — and it was yum. A beef patty with rasher bacon, fried egg and BBQ sauce; topped with caramelised onion, cheese, crunchy lettuce, tomato and beetroot. Tasted just like my old fave from the corner takeaway.



Bea went for the McDonald’s Classic Cheeseburger — otherwise known as a ‘fancy cheeseburger’…well, to Bea anyway (below) which she says, “is exactly how it sounds – all the deliciousness of the little baby cheeseburgers I’ve loved my whole life, taken to a new level. 

“The brioche roll adds a little touch of sweetness that contrasts with the sharpness of the cheese (not the classic yellow melty kind but an aged cheddar), the TWO different types of bacon and the old style pickles.”


Javier (who declared me world’s best boss for snagging a review lunch at Maccas) chose to get creative and design her own burger (below). Since becoming pregnant, she’s been craving salt and vinegar flavours, as well as crunchy fried chicken.

“I selected a soft, buttery brioche bun with crispy chicken as my protein. I added DOUBLE crispy bacon, natural cheese, lettuce, guacamole and double pickles. I topped it off with Big Mac sauce, which has that amazing, tangy, pickle flavour – it’s so addictive, I want to bottle it and take it home to put on everything! My invention was damn good, if I do say so myself.”


As for Laura, she decided to go beyond the Junior Burger  and find a new ‘last meal’ (below). 


“Instead of the standard burger and fries, we were able to choose our own burger buns, salads and delicious toppings such as sweet chili or guacamole. I chose brioche bread with crispy chicken, tomato, lettuce, beetroot, pickles and guacamole, as well as a serving of the loaded fries (drool) and a garden salad.

“For a bit of nostalgia, I topped it off with the hot fudge soft serve.  The burger was packed with flavour without being greasy, so there was less of a ‘guilt’ factor. It was served on a cute little wooden tray and beautifully presented – definitely a far cry from the McDonald’s I remember from the ’90s!’ 

The guy behind it

We were joined by Brad Carroll, who owns Manuka Maccas as well as Woden and Weston. His is a story you often hear echoed — people who start working at Maccas while at school and then find a career path.

Brad’s a Wagga boy and started at the McDonald’s there a couple of decades ago as a casual crew person, aged just 14. The Wagga restaurant was my first ever Maccas experience (I didn’t taste it until I was about 16, because there had never been one near our country town), so I have some pretty fond memories of the place.

“I worked casual during my schooling years and then moved into a full time manager’s position after the HSC exams, then completed a business management program through McDonald’s School of Management.”

Brad was promoted to Restaurant Manager at just 19, putting him in charge of 120 staff and a multi-million dollar restaurant. He progressed up the management chain, buying his first restaurant in Leeton in 2010 and later opening Temora (which was my lunch saviour on many an occasion when travelling to Griffith to see the fam). After selling his Riverina restaurants last year, Brad and his family moved into the Canberra market and now employs around 350 staff across his three restaurants.

So what’s the verdict?


Yeah, it’s McDonalds, but it’s also delicious…so maybe it’s time to leave your preconceptions behind and check out the new Maccas Manuka.

$1 cheeseburgers anyone?

To celebrate their official ‘refresh’, they’re rolling out some pretty great deals today — Saturday 27 August. Anyone for $1 cheeseburgers*?

There’ll also be giveaways throughout the day, Ronald McDonald will be in store between 11am and 1pm, and Raw FM will be onsite with a DJ.

*Limit of 4 per customer

This is a sponsored post. Read our Sponsored Post Policy here.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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