The flagship store for the rebranded McDonald’s on Pushkinskaya Square in Moscow.
McDonald’s in Russia has been rebranded as “Tasty and that’s it” after a Russian bought it
Big Macs, Happy Meals and McFlurrys are gone but cheeseburgers, nuggets and fries are still on sale
The new packaging is now mostly plain white, with a pop of color – but no logos
There is one restaurant in Moscow that every single Muscovite seems to know and have eaten at: the flagship McDonald’s on Pushkinskaya Square, where thousands lined up for hours for a taste of the West when it first opened in 1990.
In March, following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, McDonald’s suspended operations in Russia and the legendary restaurant closed its doors.
But the venue was so symbolic that when a Russian investor reopened it earlier this month, promising to serve food that was “the same, but better,” people lined up again.
McDonald’s is called Vkusno i Tochka, which means “tasty and that’s it”. The place that had represented Russia’s openness to the West now underscored its sudden isolation.
So it seemed strangely fitting that just a few hours before moving out of the country, after five years as a Moscow correspondent, I made this one of my last meals in Russia.
The place was packed on Friday afternoon. I placed my order on a greasy touchscreen, as usual. The menu was largely the same, with a few notable exceptions: gone are the Happy Meals, the Big Mac and the McFlurry.
The flagship store of the rebranded McDonald’s in Moscow was packed when I visited.
I am not a regular at McDonald’s, but I have very vivid childhood memories of their food. I decided to recreate my standard order from back in the days and started with my go-to fast food essential, the cheeseburger.
The cheeseburger at Tasty and that’s it, the rebranded McDonald’s in Russia.
The bun and cheese are clearly identical to the original version – McDonald’s was using 85% locally produced ingredients – but the meat patty seems slightly less salty, making that first bite a little less exciting. I also noticed the absence of the pickle slice, which I like.
The cheeseburger came wrapped in a white and orange paper sheet. One of the most notable changes is the packaging of all products, which is now plain white, or white with just a pop of color and the product’s name. No logos, thanks very much.
The Filet-o-F… sorry, the fish burger
The fish burger at Tasty & that’s it, the rebranded McDonald’s in Russia.
Moving on to the replacement for the Filet-o-Fish, I was pleasantly surprised. The fish burger may now lack its iconic McDonald’s name, but otherwise it hasn’t changed a bit. The bun, the fish, everything’s the same, even down to the slightly mysterious white sauce.
The fish burger box at Tasty and that’s it.
The box the fish burger comes in does look a bit awkward, however, with its plain text and a band of colour, as if it was a prop for kids playing at their make-believe restaurant.
The fries at the rebranded McDonald’s in Russia come in plain white packaging with no logo.
The fries to me seemed a bit sadder, less salty and crispy than I was expecting. I couldn’t quite tell whether that was actually the case, or it was just the depressing white box they were served in.
My cup of Coke was equally plain and white. They were out of regular Coke and now only had Diet Coke. But it was still Coke. As Coca-Cola also pulls out of Russia, the chain seems to be using up their stocks before switching to a different, probably Russian, brand.
The chicken nuggets at Tasty and that’s it in Russia.
The chicken nuggets are high up on my list of comfort foods from childhood.
I grew up in an Italian family that is quite serious about food, so going to McDonald’s was a big concession made to unappreciative children. Somehow, an exception was made for the Chicken McNuggets.
These Russian nuggets didn’t disappoint: they are crispy, the chicken is tender, and they have the same weird shape as always.
The McDonald’s logos on the sauces had been erased with a marker pen.
I decided to pair them with two sauces: barbecue and sweet-and-sour. I noticed a strange little black dot on the package: these were still McDonald’s sauces, and somebody had just manually covered up the golden arches logo with a marker pen.
The ice cream sundae
The sundae at Tasty and that’s it in Moscow.
This was a disappointing finale. The ice cream now comes in smaller cups than it used to.
The ice cream itself was creamy and delicious but was served partially melted, with the strawberry sauce pooled towards the bottom. I ate a few spoonfuls while watching people lounge in the sun on the busy Pushkin square.
My verdict? The new Russian McDonald’s tastes pretty much the same as before. It’s as if – almost – nothing had happened.