REVIEW: Burger King Chicken Fries Rings

Burger King Chicken Fries Rings

Chicken Rings.

Doesn’t that have a logical ring to it.

Sorry.

But Burger King didn’t follow my logic, they went with the convoluted name Chicken Fries Rings. I can understand their logic. These rings of chicken fall under the Chicken Fries banner, but I imagine when most folks order them they’ll call them Chicken Rings, which is what I did and the cashier knew exactly what I wanted.

So Burger King’s Chicken Fries Rings are what’s next in fast food chicken finger food technology.

Cue up Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Oh, it’s not?

Cue up “Yakety Sax” to take us back to 2011 when White Castle introduced their Chicken Rings.

Burger King’s version looks exactly like White Castle’s — flat rings with a seasoned golden brown coating. They’re aerodynamic enough that if you wanted to fling them they’d probably get more airtime than a Burger King onion ring. So let the food fights begin!

Burger King Chicken Fries Rings 2

A serving has six pieces and comes with your choice of dipping sauce. I went with BK’s Zesty Sauce. I’m sure the breading and spices are the same ones used on their straight Chicken Fries, but these rings taste better. They have a stronger flavor and the spices stand out a bit more. Maybe it’s because there’s more surface area touching my tongue with each bite. I don’t know. I’m no food physicist. But I do know they have enough peppery flavor that I’d be fine eating these without a dipping sauce, which is something I can’t say about McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.

Their exterior is not what I would consider crispy, but it’s also not soggy. When I bit into them there was a little noise, but not enough to rattle my brain with every chew. I wish these came out crispier. The white meat chicken was on the dry side, but the dipping sauce hides that.

Burger King Chicken Fries Rings 3

One issue I’ve always had with Burger King’s Chicken Fries is their lack of chicken meat. Of course, being the shape of fries makes it hard to fit a decent amount of chicken into one. But I don’t feel the same about these Chicken Rings. Their flat and round shape allows them to have about twice the amount of chicken.

Overall, I enjoyed Burger King’s Chicken Fries Rings and I do think taste-wise they’re a step above their Chicken Fries and miles above their regular chicken nuggets. But for those looking for value will probably prefer BK’s regular Chicken Nuggets, which currently are available for $1.49 for 10-pieces.

(Nutrition Facts – 310 calories, 18 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1020 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 17 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $6.99 (value meal)*
Size: 6-pieces
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: They have more flavor than BK’s Chicken Fries, even though they’re made with the same breading. I’m fine with eating them without a dipping sauce. Zesty Sauce. More aerodynamic than a BK Onion Ring.
Cons: Its name. Looks like White Castle’s version. Breading isn’t very crispy. Chicken meat was on the dry side. BK’s Chicken Nuggets.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza

Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza

Over the years, competitors have come out swinging – stuffing crusts with hot dogs, creating delivery cars with pizza ovens, and paying Peyton Manning.

Last year, Little Caesars tried to play ball with the Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza. Dialing it back, Little Caesars’ latest contribution to realm of ridiculous pizza innovation is their new Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza. I’ve learned from my day job that if you throw the adjective “premium” in front of your product or offering, it’s a sure win!

Continuing to sip on my haterade, I conclude from the rectangular box that my pizza isn’t round. What! Choquée! The box does proudly tout that Little Caesars is America’s Favorite Detroit-Style Deep Dish Pizza. Detroit is home to a lot of great things like the Detroit Lions, so what could go wrong here? Kidding.

Because Little Caesars is carry-out only, the eau d’pizza had about 20 minutes to permeate my car. I’ll give Little Caesars this – if they bottled the tantalizing pepperoni aroma, I’d buy it. When I got home, I expect it to look as glorious as it smells but the squares look really plain, small, and sad. Product description reads: “Four corners of perfection weren’t enough, so we gave you eight!” Honestly Little Caesars, I would’ve been fine with one, good round pizza.

Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza 3

While I can look past size, the pepperoni pieces were clearly just haphazardly thrown on. It looks like the one time I tried to play ring toss inebriated. I do appreciate that the pepperoni wasn’t marinating in a puddle of oil like competitors’ pepperoni pizzas.

While the overall pizza is hardly as ooey-gooey as it is in the ads, two slices down and I’m heavy breathing. I find myself feeling relieved that the cheese isn’t molten lava because it’s as if an entire cheese wheel was melted down and stuffed into the contents of this square dough. It’s like the dough and cheese have fused into one; I’m not quite sure where one begins and the other ends – there’s cheese on top, cheese in the middle, cheese in the crust. Alls I know is that my stomach is stuffed like this pizza.

Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza 4

I’m amazed that a single square slice somehow holds everything with such grace – no collapsing soggy crust whatsoever like other competitors’ stuffed crusts and not dry and hard like some Sicilian-style pizza I’ve had. Conclusion: Stuffed Crust DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza is the Spanx of pizzas. Like Spanx, it’s somehow containing and holding in all the cheese. The little muffin top forming over my jeans is a stark contrast to the pizza’s remarkable composure. Damn, I knew I should’ve worn my stretchy pants.  

This really does remind me of elementary school cafeteria pizza. But, this conjures fond memories for me like a square pizza patronus (where my Gryffindors at?!). Like all elementary school meals, it looks unappetizing and has way too much sodium; but if you count the pepperoni as your daily serving protein and tomato sauce as your daily serving of vegetables, you have a square meal. Get it? *buh dum tss*

Square pizza = square meal. Ha! No? Okay, fine. Fair.

Dad jokes aside, I will admit it’s not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but it’s definitely one of the better fast food chain pizzas. I still think that pizza shouldn’t be square but the this one can be the exception.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Purchased Price: $10
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Little Caesars
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Eau d’pizza could be bottled and sold. Spanx of pizzas – will induce heavy breathing. Square pizza patronus.
Cons: Deceptive – doesn’t look as good as it smells and cheese isn’t ooey-gooey as advertised. Square.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Crispy Chicken BLT

Wendy's Crispy Chicken BLT

“What if I want to buy it by itself?” I asked.

She responded, “You can buy it by itself but it’s from over here and doesn’t have bacon on it.” The cashier gestured at the value menu, at their value chicken sandwich. At least at this Wendy’s, they do not sell the Crispy Chicken BLT alone. I was being railroaded into buying a meal.

In a true “Mom, don’t tell me what to do” moment, I grimaced. Yes, Wendy’s is offering a “4 for $4” deal that is basically Frankenstein-ed value menu options, and is kicking it off with a new item, the Crispy Chicken BLT.

Here’s the thing: I have piecemealed together feasts from Wendy’s in the past. This is one of my favorite places to do it. But if you’re saying I have to buy a soda and I have to buy some fries, I’m going to push back a bit. No Frosty? No baked potato? As the combinations dwindle, it feels like Dave Thomas’ ghost hand is holding my head under a vat of Wendy’s chili as he mumbles something about how ground beef should have right-angled corners.

The meal comes with a sandwich, four nuggets, a soda and fries. And once the sandwich is unwrapped, it’s clear why it comes with friends. It’s pretty tiny. Turns out, it’s a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger but with a fried white chicken patty replacing the beef.

Wendy's Crispy Chicken BLT 2

The Crispy Chicken BLT boasts a two slices of bacon, a slice of American cheese, mayo, lettuce, and tomato on top of the patty. The bacon is crispier than I’m used to on other Wendy’s items, but it and the lettuce add a nice texture to the entire bite. The bun is soft but dry, and combined with the mild hum of the American cheese and mayonnaise, can get a little overbearing at times.

The chicken itself is fine—the white meat is free of soft bones (unlike a McChicken, sometimes) and contrasts nicely to the sodium boost the pork adds. The patty is nothing particularly special, similar to most other sandwiches on the value menu, but this seems to complement the other ingredients a tad better than the beef counterpart.

How was the rest of the meal? I would have liked a Frosty, to be honest. The fries seemed like overkill, but were fine. And surprisingly, I did not get sick of chicken, as I gulped down four nuggets no problem (didn’t they use to have five nuggets?).

I’m not a fan of the “4 for $4” promotion. It looks too much like 4-4-4, which gives off Illuminati vibes, and the entire situation definitely feels like paying for a cable package when all I need is Warriors basketball, the Property Brothers and the People v. OJ Simpson. “Kar-dash-i-an! Kar-dash-i-an!”

The sandwich is a decent value menu item, and four bucks is a pretty good price for a meal. Just lemme pick my own stuff, Wendy’s.

(Nutrition Facts – 440 calories, 24 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 950 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4 (includes meal)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Serviceable value menu item. Better than the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. Chicken and bacon go together well, lettuce adds a nice crisp.
Cons: Cheese and bread can overwhelm. You need to buy four things at once.

REVIEW: Red Robin Red Ramen Burger

Red Robin Red Ramen Burger

Much like how all the Brits are stealing all the good lead acting gigs (Rick Grimes, Daredevil/Matt Murdock, Norman Bates… yes, they’re all Brits!) chain restaurants are taking food crazes and making their own versions. Dunkin’ Donuts did it with the Cronut, and Red Robin is doing it with the Ramen Burger.

People seem to get upset about the so called “food plagiarism,” but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so people should chill out. These foods typically come from big cities like New York or Los Angeles, and seeing as not all of us live in those cities, we deserve to try it too. We have food rights! Pretty sure that’s what Patrick Swayze died fighting for in “Red Dawn.”

Red Robin’s version of the ramen burger, dubbed the “Red Ramen Burger,” features the ramen noodle bun, is topped with teriyaki and chiu chow aioli, fried jalapeño coins, chili-infused shredded cabbage, carrot and onion, and is garnished with basil.

Red Robin Red Ramen Burger 2

The first thing you will notice with the burger is it is going to be a messy affair. I’m talking three to five napkins, minimum. Maybe a wet-nap. The ramen bun falls apart faster than a millionaire’s marriage to a stripper he fell in love with after seeing her on stage. You typically don’t eat burgers with a knife and fork but this is one you’ll want to deploy the silverware for.

They did a good job with the bun. The ramen was crispy on the outside, and when you bite into it there is soft ramen on the inside. That seems really tough to pull off. The bun is apparently seasoned but there wasn’t any noticeable taste, just tasted like normal ramen.

The teriyaki and chiu chow aioli dominates the burger and is easily the strongest flavor. Teriyaki is, er, teriyaki, and chiu chow is God knows what. The first four Google search returns didn’t give me a clear answer so I gave up. But the sweet teriyaki most definitely runs the show.

Red Robin Red Ramen Burger 3

Next you have the ginger-infused cabbage, carrot, and onion mix. This did not belong on the burger. The taste did not stand out at all because the teriyaki covered it up, so there’s just this shredded vegetable nuisance you have to deal with throughout the course of the burger. Honestly if you order it you should hold the veggies. They just get in the way, kind of like me in a pickup basketball game.

The fried jalapeño coins are insanity. They weren’t spicy but they just melt in your mouth. You still get that jalapeño flavor but without the sweating, coughing, eye watering, and the pointing and laughter of your fellow diners. The coating on the peppers was buttery and delicious. If these coins were a real currency, they’d be, like, the golden dollar of fried coins.

Red Robin Red Ramen Burger 4

My burger was cooked perfectly and overall was a unique treat that you don’t typically see anywhere. The ceramic cat in the burger promo suggested I eat the burger with a Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale, so I gave in like a sad sheep and listened. They did pair really well together, and I got a good chuckle when the bartender handed me the bottle and I exclaimed, “This isn’t my father’s ginger ale!” Oh man, it gets me every time! It doesn’t seem to get anyone else though. The bartender didn’t acknowledge the joke, he just asked if I needed anything else. Yes, I do. I need you to laugh at my joke so I don’t feel like a King Goober.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Purchased Price: $11.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Red Robin
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Ramen bun is neat. Nice teriyaki flavor. Fried jalapeño coins are heaven. Making jokes about your father’s ginger ale.
Cons: Teriyaki flavor takes over at times. Burger is rather messy. Veggies just get in the way. Having your father’s ginger ale joke fall flat.

REVIEW: Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich

Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich

In olden times, Sonic was the bee’s knees.

Their cherry limeades were refreshing, you could assault your tater tots with a respectable kind of chili and a delightfully processed cheese-product, and their burgers were served both hot and fresh. (Oh, and the foot long chili-cheese coneys. Man, those things were boss.) The carhops skated their way to your door with a smile, the milkshakes were of out-of-sight, and former teen idol Frankie Avalon was all over their advertising spots imploring you to drive in and stuff your face with nostalgic abandon.

Then everything fell apart.

Frankie left to go do, I don’t know, Frankie Avalon things. The smiling carhops were replaced with an unwholesome blend of surly teens and recent parolees. The food quality —once an oasis of flavor in a sea of grey-meat, limp-French fried fast food inequity — fell off. And then, you know, those two dudes showed up blabbering inanely in their car.

But look, get ready because Sonic is changing the game, you guys. Enter The ULTIMATE CHICKEN CLUB. (All caps mine, and added for emphasis.) I mean, it’s got “ultimate” RIGHT there in the name, so you know it’s legit. In fact, why aren’t you eating one right now?

Well, I’ll tell you why you aren’t: because it’s a swing and a miss.

Now, it’s not a “swing and totally miss, spin in a cartoon circle and fall on your butt” kind of thing. Maybe it’s akin to a foul tip or perhaps a valiant effort on a devastating curveball.

If you’re familiar with the concept of a “club” sandwich, you know what’s going on here — it mostly means someone added bacon and tomatoes. Sometimes there are toothpicks and diagonal cutting involved, but generally not on fast-food chicken sandwiches.

Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich 2

Anyway, in this case, it was cold black bacon and mealy garbage tomatoes. They rounded out this trip to Terror Town with some inoffensive, but useless, shredded lettuce, a thin, runny mayo (they claim is was black peppercorn mayo, but they’ve given me no reason to take them at their word), a sweaty slice of flavorless cheddar cheese, and a tempura-ish battered chicken breast filet that was as thick as a new package of loose-leaf notebook paper and just as delicious.

This sandwich was, in 13 words, a loose conglomeration of mediocre ingredients melded together in an orgy of disappointment. It tasted like a flavorless collection of toppings atop a bland chicken-block. Your uncle Gary does better at his Memorial Day cookouts, to be sure.

Really, the best thing this sandwich had going for it was the soft, fresh brioche bun, because it’s like that old adage goes, “everything’s better on brioche.”

Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich 2

There wasn’t anything new or interesting here, but honestly, that’s fine and it wasn’t the problem. Not every limited time fast food offering needs to reinvent the wheel. Let’s leave the stuffing and cramming and nachofication of America to those zany R&D people at Taco Bell. But in the meantime, you can win a lot of points with a solid chicken club sandwich. If you’re gonna do it, though, do it well. And if the execution leaves so much to be desired, maybe think about canning the “Ultimate” tag.

(Nutrition Facts – 1000 calories, 580 calories from fat, 64 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 gram of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 2070 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 39 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $4.79 (sandwich only)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Sonic
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Respectable brioche. Frankie Avalon. Nostalgia. It’s fairly sizable.
Cons: As tasty as notebook paper. Burnt bacon. Sweat-cheese. 1,000 calories! The two annoying dudes blabbering in the car may have killed Frankie Avalon, we don’t know that they didn’t.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Panko Onion Rings

Jack in the Box Panko Onion Rings

Even though I’ve eaten pounds of Jack in the Box Curly Fries and paid dollars upon dollars in upgrades to swap regular fries with them in my combo meals, I’m replacing them with Jack in the Box’s new Panko Onion Rings as my favorite Jack in the Box side.

To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations, but I blame the promotional photos that don’t do them justice. When I first saw a photo of them, I thought they were going to be formed onion mush inside breading, much like the uniform-sized onion rings from a fast food chain that begins with “B” and ends with “urger King.”

But in real life these look like they’re from a sit-down chain restaurant, like Chili’s or Applebees. I know that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it’s a compliment. They come in different sizes and have actual rings of onion in them.

Oh, and look at that golden brown panko. From what you’ve probably learned via the Food Network, panko tends to be lighter and crispier than other breadcrumbs and that’s definitely the case here. The coating wonderfully crispy (of course your results may vary). With every chew it’s as if a staticky television is going off in my head. They’re also not at all greasy and the coating doesn’t easily flake off.

And that crispy coating is wrapped around rings of onion that have a slightly sweet flavor. There were times when couldn’t bite through the onion causing me to pull some of it out of the panko coating and I do wish the onion was a bit more oniony, but, my goodness, writing this review makes me want to buy more of them. I’ll be right back.

(20 minutes later)

Still love them.

I imagine Jack in the Box’s Panko Onion Rings would go great with a Buttery Jack, Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Jumbo Jack, or anything else on the menu with the name “Jack” attached to it. They would also go great with any dipping sauce Jack in the Box offers, if you’re willing to pay for a container because, sadly, they don’t come with a dipping sauce. Ketchup is fine, but I got container of ranch sauce and they made these onion rings even better.

(Nutrition Facts – 443 calories, 215 calories from fat, 24 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 623 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful crispy exterior. Uses actual rings of onion. Better than Jack’s Curly Fries. They look like they’re from Chili’s or Applebees (that’s still a compliment). Not greasy.
Cons: It doesn’t need a dipping sauce, but it would’ve been nice to have to option. Perhaps the onion could’ve been more oniony. Sometimes I couldn’t bite cleanly through the onion.