05/25/16 10:37am
Wendy's new chicken sandwich looks way better than it tastes.

Wendy’s new chicken sandwich looks way better than it tastes.

I’m a sucker for ad campaigns touting the latest fast-food gimmick be it McGriddles or Dorito’s Loco Tacos. Upon seeing the commercial—usually while climbing a virtual mountain at the gym—I can’t wait to try the latest and greatest mass market meal. And that’s how I came to eat two fast-food fried chicken sandwiches yesterday. The first was Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Ever since seeing the commercial I’ve wanted to try it, so much so that I had it for breakfast.

Unfortunately the soggy lukewarm chicken breast, topped with diced jalapeños, and an evil yellow slurry that called to mind the cheez on movie theater nachos was disappointing as were the ghost pepper fries. Sure everything was spicy, but the execution was just terrible. I don’t blame Wendy’s though, I blame my unrealistic expectations of fast food. If anything I thank Wendy’s for the experience. It spurred me to try the second sandwich, the original chicken sandwich from Delaney Fried Chicken.  (more…)

03/16/16 2:06pm

The Chick’n Shack is a worthy alternative to Shake Shack’s hamburgers.

“Really? That’s like going to Peter Luger and getting the salmon,” my pal Robbie told me when I said I was excited to try the chicken sandwich at the newish Shake Shack in the Queens Center. Robbie is a big, big fan of their burgers. Not to say that I’m not, but I seem to be on a fried chicken sandwich kick of late.

As I waited on line a young couple in front of me bantered about the name of the sandwich “Chick’n Shack.” Soon it was time for me to fork over $6.29 for a cage-free buttermilk marinated fried chicken sandwich. As I waited for my sandwich I noticed somebody with a bottle of Louisiana brand hot sauce and immediately grabbed some to doctor up my bird. Shortly thereafter the Shake Shack pager began to vibrate and I picked up my order. (more…)

09/23/15 9:56am

Wendy's BBQ saucemaster laughs at your desire to know his secret.

Yesterday afternoon I was doing some virtual trail running in the gym when the above commercial for Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich came on. Even with the sound down I got the joke. When asked to divulge the recipe for his “secret sauce” the presumably Southern pitmaster and his assistant refuse to give up the goods laughing off the request.

The subsequent glamour shots of “our hickory smoked pulled pork” and a BBQ poutine of sorts looked so good that I couldn’t get them out of my head. I envisioned Wendy’s very own sauce bespattered, real deal pitmaster whipping up this pulled pork, a veritable Ed Mitchell of fast food. As a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society judge who’s been around BBQ pits and smokers of various and sundry sizes and configurations, including a stainless steel number whose firebox resembles a miniature bank vault, I know  this is nonsense. But Wendy’s and its ad agency are selling a fantasy, one that I clearly bought into as evidenced by my choice of a late night dinner. (more…)

04/08/15 11:21am

KFC’S Double Down in all its cheesy, chicken glory.

Let me let you in on a dirty little secret. Sometimes the search to find a sandwich to write about every Wednesday isn’t easy. Sometimes I’m driven to desperate measures. And that’s how I came to try the KFC Double Down, the fast-food chain’s frankensandwich of two fried chicken breasts in lieu of a bun with bacon, cheese, and mystery sauce in between.

Desperation to find a sandwich to write about aside, what really spurred me to try it was the three-foot picture of the sandwich outside an Astoria KFC that bore the come-on  “Back for a limited time.” Once inside I couldn’t find the 610-calorie behemoth on the menu board. As I stood there confused, I was reminded of many marijuana-fueled high-school nights where I stood slack-jawed for a seeming eternity in front of a fast-food menu. (more…)

02/13/15 9:02am

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been hearing about the Automat, Horn and Hardart’s, much tastier precursor to today’s fast-food chains. I’m quite sure I would have loved putting a nickel or a dime in the slot and opening the door to reveal a piece of pie, or a Swiss cheese sandwich, or a slab of meat loaf and gravy. The other night I was excited to learn that there used to be an Automat in Flushing, Queens. I am perhaps even more excited for a new film by my friend Lisa Hurwitz called The Automat. It chronicles the chain’s  rise and fall. Enjoy the trailer. Don’t blame me if it makes you want to sport a fedora and grab a grilled cheese from behind a wall of magic little doors.

01/27/15 12:09pm

Nothing quite says disaster preparedness like a visit to Chipotle.

Winter storm Juno nee Snowmageddon/Blizzard of 2015 sparked all sorts of irrational behavior in New York City. Declaration of martial law, oops I mean subway closure and a driving ban; a hipstervore kale crisis; even a Craigslist bonanza of potential blizzard booty calls. Over in Brooklyn some poor soul jumped out a third-story window with barely a foot of snow on the ground to break his fall. Here in Queens, I got in on the snowmageddon madness by visiting Chipotle Mexican Grill. (more…)

10/15/14 2:22pm

Best logo stamped fast-food breakfast sandwich ever.

“Do you eat fast food?” the physician’s assistant asked me yesterday during my annual checkup. For a moment I wondered whether cumin lamb skewers consumed on Queens street corners qualified and decided they did not fit the fast-food bill.

“About two or three times a year,” I responded. Most of those times are on road trips and the idea of the food—be it a Big Mac, Whopper, or Taco Bell Burrito Supreme—always far exceeds the end product. It’s as if I’m trying to capture some mystical childhood fast food experience. I’m convinced that if Hardee’s, which I recall as having magnificent char-grilled flavor, still existed in New York City I would be a happy man.  Call it chasing the fast food dragon. (more…)

06/04/14 10:47am

Chicken and waffles, sliderized.

I have a confession to make. Until this past Mardi Gras, I’d never eaten chicken and waffles. Oh yeah, and, every now and then I get a jones for White Castle. And I used to work there. I guess that’s three confessions. It’s been at least a year since I paid a visit to my local White Castle, but when I saw a poster for the new chicken and waffle sandwich, I knew I’d be stopping by soon. Had I not eaten a rather large Sri Lankan lunch, I would have tried this exercise in comfort food excess immediately.  “Imported from Belgium,” the copy promised presumably referring to the waffles, not the chicken. Today I decided to try out the slider king’s entry into the comfort food mashup market. (more…)

12/11/13 1:16pm

The King of Hot Sauce is Dead! Long Live the King of Hot Sauce!

In this year of Cronuts, Ramenburgers, and other trendy Frankenfoods it’s easy to lose sight of one major story: the death of Sriracha. That’s right Rooster Sauce as some call the concoction of red hot jalapeños, garlic, and vinegar is over. Grab a seat at your favorite pho joint, cover your eyes, and stick a fork in the squeeze bottle because it’s just done. The demise of the fiery sauce that has had a place everywhere from cheap dumpling houses and Vietnamese joints to the kitchens of chefs like Michael Voltaggio and Jean-Georges Vongerichten occurred last month. And it had nothing to with the partial closure of the company’s plant in Irwindale, Calif., a few weeks ago. It started when Subway introduced a line of sandwiches using creamy Sriracha sauce. Some might argue that it began way before that with Lay’s Sriracha potato chips and Sriracha candy canes. I’ll leave such quibbling to those better versed in food trends. After all, today’s column is about a sandwich. And the sandwich in question is Subway’s Sriracha Chicken Melt. (more…)

04/09/13 12:15pm
Fried chicken and spaghetti, together at last.

Fried chicken and spaghetti, together at last.

When I first saw the spaghetti at Jollibee, the Filipino fast food spot in Woodside’s Little Manila, I wrote it off as a perverse creation that I’d never order. Last night I had a change of heart and gave the Pinoy pasta a whirl. I decided to hedge my bets and order a fried chicken and spaghetti combo. That way if the pasta was totally inedible I could at least munch away on the drumstick.

It’s like a sloppy joe version of pasta.

It’s like a sloppy joe version of pasta.

I was expecting a sodden overcooked mess. The pasta though was surprisingly al dente. Moreover the sauce, plenty sweet and riddled with chunks of sausage, carrots, and enriched with melted cheese was strangely compelling, in a school lunch sort of way. Around the third or fourth bite, I realized that it reminded me of one of my favorite school lunches growing up, sloppy joes. I can see why little kids go gaga over this spaghetti. That bird, or Chickenjoy, as Jollibee calls it was good but not great. When I’m looking for fast-food fried chicken I’ll stick to IHOP or KFC. And when that craving for strange spaghetti hits I’ll know where to go. After last night I should be good for two years.

Jollibee, 62-29 Roosevelt Ave., Woodside, 718-426-4445