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REVIEW: Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Written by | April 18, 2014

Topics: 2 Rating, Fast Food, Taco Bell

Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito Outside

The breakfast burrito encompasses everything that is a guilty pleasure. Eggy richness covered with melty cheese and salty bits of luscious fatty meat, all wrapped in a convenient flour tortilla. Like a grilled cheese sandwich, it echoes comfort and its simple ingredients combine together to create a complex equation of deliciousness.

Long story short, a breakfast burrito (like a grilled cheese) balances on a thin line between awesome and Shitsville.

Taco Bell has toyed with the idea of a breakfast menu longer than Dan Aykroyd has tinkered with endless versions of Ghostbusters III. I remember when I was an undergrad, the Taco Bell in the student union had makeshift breakfast burritos with tater tots, eggs, and cheese in them. I have no idea if these were sanctioned or official but I knew I ate those bastards without consideration to anything, including my girlfriend’s stupid vegan rule.

Every time I heard Taco Bell was testing its breakfast menu, I would pray to the Bell loudly that Orlando would be chosen, but to no avail. And now a few years or so, everyone gets their chance to partake in this once mythical menu.

We all know by 2032, as Demolition Man taught us, that Taco Bell wins the fast food wars; sex involves no touching and sleek headgear; and Wesley Snipes did more than skipping out on taxes. I’m going to make an educated guess that the breakfast burrito was not one of the contributions that led Taco Bell to win that war.

Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito Inside

As soon as I bit into the burrito, I knew I made a mistake larger than the last woman who dated Chris Brown. Cheap shot aside, the eggs were chalky and powdery tasting. Normally in a breakfast burrito, the eggs are the binding ingredient that amplifies the other flavors. However, this egg was gritty, bland and just sat there like it gave up on doing much.

Taco Bell states you get a “double portion of fluffy scrambled eggs.” They couldn’t even get that right because my portion was more like Keira Knightly-sized, let alone fluffy.

Collapsing even further was the dreadful, droopy and less than present flavor of the cheddar cheese. There is more cheese flavor to be found if you sucked your cousin’s fingers after they ate a bag of cheese puffs. The cheddar cheese was mostly crusted up which only served to emphasize the boring and apathetic eggs.

You do get a choice of bacon or sausage for your breakfast burrito. I decided on sausage to avoid the old trap that bacon makes everything taste better. It does not…but in any case, I just wanted to stay away from the sweet crispy lull of bacon.

The sausage was as depressing as the rest of the other elements. It was like Ron Jeremy. Greasy, hard in some parts, and unpleasantly fatty. The sausage was also dull and devoid of the punch of spices we are accustomed to in fast food sausage.

To call this a letdown is as much as an understatement as if I said, “I’m sad” after catching my wife getting jackhammered by the mailman. I was in disbelief that a chain that can make fast food burritos well, screwed up this badly. I think if I chewed on my Fleshlight, there would be more flavor.

What about the positives? Frankly, the only one I can think of is that it’s served until 11:00am, or at least the one in my area. The flour tortilla kept everything warm, so I suppose that’s a mediocre plus.

I have a rule that has guided me very well in general regarding going out to eat. If a restaurant can’t make a staple dish well, most likely the rest of their menu is going to suck. For example, if you go to a Chinese restaurant and the egg rolls or fried rice are damn awful, you can bet the Peking duck is going to flatline harder than M. Night Shyamalan’s most recent movie. I mean if you go to your neighborhood Italian restaurant and the eggplant parmesan tastes like crap, do you really think the kitchen can handle the acqua pazza? Hell no!

Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Bottom line, Taco Bell couldn’t make their breakfast burrito rise like a morning woodster, which stinks because I am less enthused about trying their other breakfast offerings. This review made me realize two things. One, I think I’ll stick to what Taco Bell knows best, the “fourth” meal that comes after a night of hard drinking involving lots of scotches and martinis. Two, movies based on the future are stupid lies.

(Nutrition Facts – 470 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 210 milligrams of cholesterol, 930 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito
Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: It’s served until 11:00 a.m. The flour tortilla keeps everything nice and warm. The girlfriend who is now my wife. Makes you appreciate the regular menu. Wesley Snipes in Expendables III (it’s not out but who cares, that movie looks awesome!!!)
Cons: That they serve this at all. The gritty eggs. The flavorless cheddar cheese. The girlfriend who made me eat vegan foods. The grizzle of the sausage. Wesley Snipes in Blade III.

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REVIEW: Jack in the Box Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich

Written by | April 17, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box Jack's Blazin' Chicken Sandwich

I don’t think Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Jack in the Box is spicy. Whenever I’ve eaten one, I’ve never felt the need to reach for whatever Coke beverage that came with my meal, or jump over the cash register counter at Jack in the Box and place my mouth under the ice cream machine’s nozzle, in order to soothe my oral cavity.

Because of my feelings towards Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, I was hesitant to believe a new Jack in the Box chicken sandwich with Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce would satisfy masochistic desire to burn my taste buds and give me a good reason to jump over a Jack in the Box cash register counter so I can suck on an ice cream machine’s teat.

For those of you who aren’t Scoville scale scholars, Ghost Peppers, or Bhot Jolokia, were once the hottest peppers in the world. In 2012, the title of world’s hottest pepper was taken by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, and, in 2013, both peppers were overtaken by the Carolina Reaper from the PuckerButt Pepper Company. I mention the other peppers because with the information I just gave you, I believe you can now consider yourselves Scoville scale scholars and it allows me to put “PuckerButt” into a paragraph.

Well, it turns out my feelings about the sandwich’s spiciness were right because Jack’s Blazin’ Chick’n Sandw’ch is not blazin’ and its name doesn’t contain that many apostrophes. I added a couple extra.

Jack in the Box Jack's Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Sauce

With the Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce, I was hoping for a level of spiciness that would, um, make me tear up a little as if I was watching Toy Story 3′s ending, but that didn’t happen. It didn’t even make me sweat. While the Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce has some heat, the sliced jalapeño are spicier, which emphasizes how tame the sauce is. The sandwich comes with the same spicy chicken patty used in Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it’s not spicy to me. However, the chicken patty did have a little crispiness, but it was also slightly dry.

If your mouth prefers the extreme safe side of the Scoville scale, this sandwich still might be a little too much for you. To give you a reference point for how spicy this sandwich is, it’s noticeably less so than McDonald’s Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder or their Southwest Premium Chicken McWrap, both of which have made me sweat a little.

But even though it’s not blazin’ and the lettuce I received with my sandwich was the saddest looking piece of lettuce I’ve ever seen, it’s a tasty sandwich.

The flavor from the pickled jalapeño stood out, followed by the Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce, which has a nice smokiness and pepperiness. It also kind of tastes like a milder version of McDonald’s Habanero Ranch sauce.

The sandwich is also topped with grilled onions, Swiss-style cheese, and tomatoes. I didn’t get very many grilled onions on my sandwich, and I thought it was weird to have grilled onions on a chicken sandwich, but they didn’t add anything flavor-wise because they got lost behind the jalapeño and Ghost Pepper Sauce. The Swiss-style cheese’s flavor does come through a little bit and it slightly tempers the sandwich’s spiciness.

Again, even though it’s not blazin’ to me, it’s a really good sandwich. And I guess it’s a good thing it wasn’t blazin’, because if it was overly spicy, the heat would’ve distracted my taste buds from the flavors. Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich is a giant step up in terms of flavor and heat from Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and, to be honest, I wish Jack in the Box would replace their Spicy Chicken Sandwich with it.

(Nutrition Facts – 665 calories, 269 calories from fat, 30 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1172 milligrams of sodium, 662 milligrams of potassium, 70 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Item: Jack in the Box Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.99 (sandwich only)*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: A giant step up in terms of flavor and heat from Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce may not have a lot of heat, but it does have a nice flavor. Crispy jalapeño provided most of the flavor and heat. Slightly crispy chicken. Thank goodness they used Swiss-style cheese instead of American cheese. Toy Story 3.
Cons: Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce is not blazin’. My computer’s autocorrect correcting “blazin’” with blazon. Received the saddest piece of lettuce. Grilled onions didn’t add anything. For some reason not available in Austin, Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Laredo, McAll/Brownsville, Palm Springs, Reno, or Tulsa. Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

*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.

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REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich with Chick-fil-A’s New Grilled Chicken

Written by | April 15, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich

The way I see it we can start this one of two ways. The first is periphrastic, if not predictable. I tell you some sad story about how urban life deprived me of backyard cookouts as a child (a lie), or maybe I opine with a completely unnecessary (but eloquently articulated) treatise on how grilled chicken is the bastard stepchild of the fast food community and should never be ordered when a deep fried and crispy counterpart is available.

Or I could just cut the bullshit and tell you that Chick-fil-A’s new Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich is one of the best grilled chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Yes, ever, and certainly the best rendition from a fast food or quick service restaurant. And no, that’s not an indictment of my own grilling ability, nor should it be confused with a history of rarely ordering grilled chicken sandwiches. Simply put, the new and improved marinade, combined with the preparation on what’s being labeled a “proprietary grill,” yields a flavor and texture that’s unlike the boring and prefabricated “grilled” chicken breasts served half-assed by other fast food restaurants.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich Sauces

I was skeptical at first. Opportunity cost and its ever-present threat of regret make ordering anything but the classic Chick-fil-A sandwich virtually impossible for me, while a natural prejudice against fast food items above the five dollar mark made me initially question my decision. Still, with a full court press campaign touting what a game-changing sandwich this is, I figured it couldn’t hurt to go grilled over crispy at least once. If nothing else, it would give me an excuse to replenish my precariously low stash of Chick-fil-A sauces.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich Grill Marks

Let’s just say I was more than pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was blown away, and plan to come back for more. The chicken breast itself is head and shoulders above what most fast food restaurants dole out. Unlike the “chicken breast filet with rib meat” patties at places like McDonald’s, the Chick-fil-A breast retains its natural shape, and doesn’t have any off flavors from injected sodium filler used to plump it up. Instead, the marinade and the grill contribute the main flavors. It’s got a nice apple cider vinegar tang and lemon zing while still having a really herby element and a touch of sweetness. The grill flavor is pronounced and authentic—I kid you not, had you blindfolded me and thrown a Frisbee at my head, I would have sworn I was at a backyard cookout (I would have also chucked the Frisbee back at your head, sicko.) Finally, it’s beyond juicy. Succulent sounds about right to me.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich Bacon

The rest of the fixings really push the sandwich over the top and help validate the $5.36 price tag. Unlike most club sandwiches, it divorces the usual swiss cheese in favor of Colby-Jack. I think it’s a good move because it has a richer, more milky-sweet taste than domestic slices of “swiss cheese,” although for the full flavor to come into effect, it’s best to let the cheese steam while in the container. The bacon has an enjoyable smoke flavor that really helps bolster the taste of the cheese and chicken, but it’s middle of pack texturally speaking now that McDonald’s has upgraded to thicker slices. Still, the produce is fresh if not a bit excessive, while the bun, which might just boast every whole grain on the planet, has a pleasant give and complex flavor. It’s not cloying like all these newfangled “brioche” style buns or dense like the old Chick-fil-A wheat buns, and instead tastes solidly of toasted grains without tasting too healthy.

Finally, the removal of pickles (which appeared on the old Grilled Chicken sandwich) does wonders, getting rid of any last vestment of “canned” flavor and producing something unabashedly fresh in every sense of the word. It was so enjoyable that, after taking several bites and being greeted by the symphonic flavors and textures, I completely forgot about the seven separate sauces I was provided with for, uh, “testing” purposes.

Look, I get it. It’s a grilled chicken sandwich, and not something 90 percent of us who eat fast food regularly are going to get excited about. Having subjected myself to grilled chicken sandwiches from the likes of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s in semi-regular spats of misguided healthy-eating, I really can’t fault you for having low expectations. But this sandwich is different. It really is a game-changer, and looks and feels every part of a perfectly cooked grilled chicken sandwich you’d expect to pay at least eight or nine bucks for at a full service restaurant. I’m no branding expert, and I definitely don’t plan on getting into bovine linguistics, but with a club sandwich this good, the cows might want to change their slogan to “eat more grilled chicken*.

*translated, roughly, from “moooo.”

(Nutrition Facts – 440 calories, 14 grams of fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1090 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, 38 grams of protein, 25% DV calcium.).)

Item: Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.36
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Chick-fil-A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Unbelievably succulent chicken breast with amazing chargrilled flavor. Lemon, herb, and garlic marinade completely permeates the meat. No rib meat slime or “butter oil” flavor. Colby-Jack cheese has milky-sweet notes. Bacon has good smoke flavor, produce is fresh and clean, and bun is exceptional. No extra charge for ridiculous sauce requests.
Cons: Cheese flavor is better once warmed and slightly melted, so better to get to-go. Bacon could be thicker and more assertive. Size of the lettuce leaf makes it awkward to eat.

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REVIEW: Taco Bell Waffle Taco (Bacon and Sausage)

Written by | April 2, 2014

Topics: 3 Rating, 4 Rating, Fast Food, Taco Bell

Taco Bell Waffle Tacos

Let’s face it. The only thing most of you care about on Taco Bell’s breakfast menu is their Waffle Taco, because almost everything else consists of the same ingredients in a flour tortilla.

Begin sarcasm.

A flour tortilla taco with bacon, eggs, and cheese! Ooooh! A flour tortilla burrito with sausage, egg, and cheese! Wonderful! Sausage, egg, cheese, and hash browns wrapped in a flour tortilla! Whoa!

End sarcasm.

Taco Bell Waffle Taco Box

While Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco also contains scrambled eggs, cheese, and either bacon or sausage, it delivers them in something that is definitely not a flour tortilla — a five-inch round waffle that’s curved like a taco. And all of that comes in a container with the words, “Right now I’m eating a Waffle Taco and you’re not,” which, when holding the box in public, kind of makes me look like an asshole. Thanks, Taco Bell!

You have the option of having your Waffle Taco come with either bacon or a sausage patty. But if you also have the option of eating breakfast somewhere else, I’d take that option because both are horribly disappointing. But if you don’t have that third option, go for the sausage because it’s slightly better tasting than the bacon, which are chewy little bits of pork that have very little bacon flavor.

Taco Bell Bacon Waffle Taco

It’s really frustrating to see Taco Bell go the bacon bits route, but it’s even more frustrating that they didn’t go with a better bacon. Over the past few years, many of the big fast food chains have upgraded their bacon from chewy, almost flavorless slices that don’t deserve to be called bacon to thick, savory, and sometimes crispy slices of Applewood smoked bacon. Those fast food chains are at Bacon 2.0, while Taco Bell settled with Bacon 1.0.

Taco Bell Sausage Waffle Taco

As I mentioned earlier, the sausage patty is slightly better. But that advantage is similar to drowning and drowning while being circled by sharks. While it does spoon very nicely with the curved waffle, it’s not seasoned very well, allowing its flavor to be easily masked by the syrup, which comes in a container that looks small, but contains more than enough sticky stuff to dump on your breakfast taco. There’s nothing special about the syrup’s flavor; it’s just generic pancake syrup. However, I found that the more I used, the greater the number of napkins I needed. This might explain one of the reasons why it comes in a box, instead of a paper wrapper. I guess the box not only helps keep the waffle from laying flat, it’s also a syrup drip catcher.

One of the characteristics that makes a waffle a waffle is its crispy exterior, but this waffle is disappointingly floppy and soft, which Taco Bell will probably claim has never happened before, doesn’t know what’s wrong, and definitely thinks you’re sexy. But I guess it has to be floppy if it’s going to be folded like that. The eggs are fluffish, but are more bland than the bacon and sausage. A little butteriness would’ve helped. As for the cheese…yeah, that’s not going to make a difference.

For something that’s been tested for almost a year, I’m surprised by how bad these Taco Bell Waffle Tacos are. They’re supposed to hit your jaw with the 1-2 combo of sweet and savory, but it’s mostly sweet. Even without the syrup, the savory is seriously missing. I’ll admit, they don’t lack imagination, but they do lack flavor.

(Nutrition Facts – Bacon – 320 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 670 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Sausage – 370 calories, 210 calories from fat, 23 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 550 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. .)

Item: Taco Bell Waffle Taco (Bacon and Sausage)
Purchased Price: $2.79*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Bacon)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Sausage)
Pros: Most interesting item on the Taco Bell breakfast menu. Syrup container might be small, but there’s more than enough syrup for one waffle taco. Sausage version is slightly better than the bacon one.
Cons: Soft and floppy waffle; not crispy at all. Sausage and bacon have very little flavor. Eggs could’ve used some butteriness. Mostly sweet, very little savory. Box it comes in makes me feel like a douchebag. Messy.

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

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REVIEW: Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

Written by | April 1, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Fast Food, Wendy's

Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

Ah, the fast food salad. Perfect for those on a diet and in a hurry and who aren’t very picky and are already at the restaurant with a group and don’t mind dropping some decent change on some lean meat and a handful of greens.

If you fall into that flower-like Venn diagram of compromise, it means you’ve probably made some questionable decisions in your life to get to this place (Or you’re just a mom with kids… which means you’ve definitely made some questionable decisions. Bam! Pow! Splat!). Anyway, Wendy’s wants your sad money, so they rolled out this new thing, the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad.

It’s topped with chicken, edamame, red bell peppers, cucumbers, cashews and *takes deep breath* Marzetti Simply Dressed Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette dressing *ends deep breath*. Woo whee. That dressing name is so long it looks like a Panic! at the Disco song title, or a Jaden Smith tweet. Plus, it comes in packets and you put it on yourself (Cardio for the day!). It has a light peanut-y balsamic flavor and an escalating spice that initially lets the rest of the ingredients breathe a bit.

The chicken is pretty good—standard grilled fast food chicken, salty and warm. The red bell peppers taste like red bell peppers. Cucumbers are cucumbers. The edamame has burnt spots, because it’s “fire roasted” but there is no roast flavor in them and they kind of sit there helping out a little bit, attempting to round out the taste. The various lettuce mix is fine, crunchy and cold. The pieces of cashew come in their own baggy, as to not get soggy.

Here is where things get difficult. A salad with so many “heavy” items as this one has the problem of construction. You dump your own dressing. You dump your own cashews. There are never enough cashews. Sometimes Wendy’s might slip you two packets of dressing. Sometimes one. Your mileage may vary. What if you put all the dressing in one corner of the salad? You’re screwed.

It’s tough to collect a bit of slippery soybean, lettuce, cashew and bell pepper in one bite on a plastic fork. When that happens, it’s a good salad. But that mostly does not happen. It would be a different story if all the ingredients were individually bright (they’re not), and if the dressing pulled all the components together into a unified front (it doesn’t). The dressing progressively gets spicier and the subtle peanut flavoring gets overpowered at a point, losing any semblance of depth. With all the fork dancing around the plate scooping up the toppings to make perfect bites, the second half of the meal is straight up spicy lettuce.

The Asian Cashew Chicken Salad is actually very low in calories, but also costs a pretty penny. You must be shelling out for that diet. Weird, some of the fattest people I know are Asian (E. Honda, Sammo Hung, Totoro). All in all, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. But when the planets align and Hanukkah lands on Thanksgiving again, and we are put in a position of purchasing a fast food salad, it’s a solidly okay bet.

So this might be the best it gets as far as fast food salads go, Moms With Kids. Then one day your kids will be at Wendy’s 3000 ordering a Western Cashew Chicken Salad. (Ingredients are the same but Future China now owns the planet.) But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Break the cycle. Go with a Baconator and a side of chili next time. Enjoy your life. Love yourself.

(Nutrition Facts – Full Size – 380 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 970 milligrams of sodium, 1130 milligrams of potassium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fiber, and 36 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad
Purchased Price: $6.29
Size: Full size (half size available)
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Chicken is decent. When all components are in one bite, tastes pretty good.
Cons: Hard to get even distribution with ingredients. Back half of meal is just spice in mouth. Pretty expensive.

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