Living in New York, I’ve watched firsthand fried chicken get gentrified. Over the last few years yuppies and foodies and rich people have been trying to perfect fried chicken.
It’s akin to making the best mafia movie or writing the consummate coming-of-age novel or creating the perfect sports moment when, in this very world, there already exists The Godfather II, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Mark Sanchez Buttfumble, respectively. Why pay $100 for the Momofuku fried chicken when you could get on the L train and get a bucket of Popeyes, the perfect fried chicken, for one-tenth the price? (For the record, I have tried the Momofuku fried chicken dinner – feel free to skip it.)
I’m glad to see Popeyes is reclaiming the fried chicken media spotlight with a brand new product. Thankfully they’re making no claims on improving their already perfect fried chicken; Popeye’s is clearly just unveiling the new Chicken Waffle Tenders to try and capitalize on the recent chicken & waffles flavor craze. Their chicken breast strips are marinated in the regular mix of spices before being battered and fried in a “waffle-style coating”. I already like the chicken tenders on Popeyes everyday menu, so I was excited to taste their latest limited time item.
A coworker joined me in my recent foray to Popeyes, as I figured his British accent and sensibilities might add additional snark to the already snarky process of review writing. Our combo meals came with three Waffle Tenders, along with a biscuit, small side, fountain drink, and cup of honey maple dipping sauce. A Waffle Tender was noticeably darker in color and oilier in texture compared to the regular tender I bought as a point of comparison, though both had the same delicious, but depressing smell of fast food grease (I’m sure they came out of the same fryer).
As for taste, the Waffle Tenders were really quite good. The meat was moist and well-seasoned, and pieces with concentrated areas of batter had a faint but distinctive sweet, yeasty flavor. While regular Popeyes tenders tend to taper off at each end, resulting in dry and almost too-crunchy parts of chicken, the waffle ones had more uniformity in the width of the meat, so they were consistent in their moistness and crunchiness.
I also enjoyed the Honey Maple dipping sauce. For some reason I had expected something with a mustard base, but the sauce was thick with the consistency and color of actual honey. The dipping sauce was sweet without approaching saccharine and even added a touch of tanginess to the proceedings.
What about the opinion of my cheeky coworker? He claimed, “It was like eating a sponge filled with grease, but in a very good way.” He had a point – the Waffle Tenders were clearly greasier than the regular ones, and I felt a little sick after eating all three.
Still, it’s something of a silly complaint since no one goes to Popeyes expecting to down a healthy meal that soothes an upset stomach. If that’s what you’re expecting us to review, maybe you should go start your own quasi-review website. (FYI, thedeliberateandsensiblebuy.com is available for $10.99 on GoDaddy.) Stay away from the gentrified fried chicken places, get down to your local Popeyes, and try the Chicken Waffle Tenders as soon as you can.
(Nutrition Facts – Not available on Popeyes’ website.)
Item: Popeyes Chicken Waffle Tenders
Purchased Price: $5.99 (for 3 piece combo)
Purchased at: Popeyes
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Meat was tasty and well-seasoned, with consistent moistness and crunchiness. Sweet, yeasty flavor occasionally shone through. Honey Maple dipping sauce was sweet and tangy. Waffle Tenders combo meal is a great deal. Mark Sanchez jokes. British snarkiness. Everything at Momofuku except for the fried chicken.
Cons: Really greasy. You’ll probably get a stomachache. Gentrification of fried chicken. Being a Jets fan. Forcing your coworkers to go to Popeyes. Thedeliberateandsensiblebuy.com.