Over the last few years several fast food joints have gotten it into their heads to try serving pulled pork. (Perhaps because of improvements in Cryovac technology? But I’m not sure.) A really good pulled pork sandwich, at least up here in the Great White North, is a rare beast indeed; even restaurants that specialize in the stuff have a hard time getting it completely right.
Predictably, these fast food approximations of a barbecue staple have ranged from “that’s alright, I guess,” (Wendy’s) to “oh my god, why would this restaurant soak paper towels in barbecue sauce and then serve it as pork?” (Burger King, because of course the worst version of this trend comes from Burger King).
Tim Hortons’ version is relatively straightforward: it’s topped with crispy onions and served on a ciabatta bun.
Given the rarity of good fast food pulled pork, it might shock you to hear that this particular sandwich isn’t awful.
It’s not great, mind you, or even good –- but it’s not awful. In this case, that’s almost a win.
The worst pulled pork sandwiches reduce the meat to a sloppy, off-putting mush, and that’s not the case here. It’s kind of dry and it’s kind of soft, but it still has some texture.
Weirdly, it’s saucy but not saucy, like it was cooked in a sauce that has mostly evaporated away, leaving some flavour and a lot of grease.
The flavour is tangy and a little bit sweet; it sorta-kinda tastes like barbecue sauce, but not really. It tastes more like barbecue-sauce-flavoured chips than like actual barbecue sauce, if that makes any sense. It’s not necessarily bad, just… off.
As for the meat itself, there are vague hints of that distinctive flavour you get when you reheat pork — but for the most part, any flavour even vaguely resembling porkiness has been steamrolled by the sauce.
Then there’s the substantial ciabatta bun, which is grilled in a panini press, giving it a hearty crunch. The bread is usually the best part of a Tim Hortons sandwich, and though it was actually a good quality bun, it’s absolutely the wrong choice for this particular sandwich. The texture and flavour of the bread completely dominates the pulled pork. Though whether that’s even a bad thing is debatable in this case.
The onions are the typical crispy fried onions you can find in a bag at the supermarket. Between the tangy barbecue sauce and the assertive crunch of the bun, they may as well not even be there. They add nothing and are completely superfluous.
I’ll give the Tim Hortons Pulled Pork Sandwich one thing: it was very easy to score. It’s clearly a five out of ten. It’s basically the platonic ideal of a five out of ten review. It’s neither particularly good nor particularly bad; it’s a shrug in sandwich form.
(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)
Item: Tim Hortons Pulled Pork Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.49 CAN
Purchased at: Tim Hortons
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: It isn’t gross. The pork could be worse. Good quality bun.
Cons: Sauce tastes off. Overwhelming bun. Useless onions.