Remember the last time you ordered one of these? Neither could McD's, so they've whipped up a whole new wave of ads for their classic fishwich -- which so far as we could tell hasn't changed a bit in the decade or two since we'd downed one. The fried fish block melds softly into the featureless cheese slice, generous blob of tartar sauce and mushy bun with little to no variance in flavor or texture. Weirdly enough, this isn't a bad thing, but rather somehow comforting -- as if time had stood still. Now where's a McDLT when you need one?
Wendy's Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich
"Oh, it's made with real fish, right?" parroted just about everyone we polled. The ad campaign sure is working, but upon first bite our question is -- why make a big splash about real fish if it's not really good fish? The fillet we sampled was decently seasoned, but rather toughly breaded, stringy and swiped with a stingy bit of overly astringent tartar sauce. We applaud the effort, but this sandwich is gonna need some more schooling if it wants to swim with the big guys.
Burger King Angry Whopper
Grade: A (if you're a chilehead) / F (if you can't take the heat)
Woah, BK -- simmer down now! What did our poor, innocent mouths (and digestive systems) ever do to you? With eight thick, unseeded slices of jalapeno, and very little else to soften the sting, this burger is more like a fraternity hazing than an item actually meant for human consumption. The little nibbles of bacon, fried "angry" onions and sweet "angry" onion sauce we managed before our tongues got their keisters whupped were holding hands and singing Kumbaya in comparison. Once the peppers muscled their way in it was impossible to concentrate on anything but the pain they packed. Even for a few hardcore chile lovers, it proved impossible to eat without an asbestos tongue. Seriously, BK, can't you enroll them in a yoga class? Spa retreat, perhaps?
Wendy's Buffalo Dipped Chicken Sandwich
A fried chicken patty meets a sickly, stinging, neon orange sweet-and-sour sauce in a sandwich we wouldn't inflict on our worst enemy. One puckery, cloying bite scorched the throats of the testers and caused at least one to skip dinner that night. The taste of the chicken? We wouldn't know, because it was so completely overpowered, but it sure wasn't anything we'd call "Buffalo."
Burger King Mushroom and Swiss Steakhouse Burger
After another burger chain's venture into mushroom-swiss terrain left our palates scarred, we were hesitant to sample another. But holy shrieking 'shrooms, were we glad we did! An intensely savory slathering of Worcestershire balanced a sweet kiss of BBQ sauce, and also seemed to nix the rubbery texture factor that plagues most mushroom-topped fast food. Swiss cheese and crisped-up onion were just barely visually evident, and played little to no role in the overall flavor. No matter -- that tasty meat slab totally ruled.
McDonald's Southwest Chicken Salad
When we told our photographer this robust salad was from McDonald's, he nearly dropped his lens cap. Save for a few Titanic-sized chunks of lettuce core, vegetables (including roasted corn and tomatoes, tender, savory black beans and poblano peppers) held shockingly pleasant flavor and freshness, making for an appealing texture contrast with crunchy, zesty chili-lime tortilla strips and shreds of cheddar jack. We opted for the crispy chicken (the same well-seasoned patty used for their new Southern Style Chicken Biscuit and Sandwich), but a grilled cilantro-lime glazed version is also available. Additional dressing is eater-administered via a lime wedge and packet of Newman's Own Southwest Dressing.
We hope the folks at McD's are feeling their ears burn in the same pleasing way ours were after scarfing down this fiery and flavorful salad. More like this, please!
Nathan Ellis Perkel
Domino's Oven Baked Chicken Parm Sandwich
Each half of the sandwich is spread with a thin layer of pizza sauce, barely enough to wet the bread. This is followed by a layer of cheese half as thin as you'd expect on a pizza. Then 3 tiny chicken strips are neatly arranged laid parallel to each other, giving the illusion that they're actually giving you some chicken. It tastes like pizza, only with the cheese and sauce mostly scraped off. Only order this if you just really hate pizza.
Burger King's Quad Stacker with Bacon
One of our testers heard an audible pop as she attempted to ratchet her jaw open widely enough to accommodate this four-decker doozy -- leading another colleague to deduce that the abundance of plasticine-textured cheese was present not so much for flavor enhancement as its powers of lubrication. Nonetheless, minus the mandibular gymnastics (we ended up using a knife) and the taste-free bacon shards this is one surprisingly delicious fast food burger.
Four towering stories of moist, savory, flame-licked meat welded together by mildly tangy cheese is undoubtedly overkill, but that's a big part of the joy. We'll draw the line if they ever come out with a Quint Stacker. Gotta have some boundaries -- not to mention jaw surgery.
Burger King Steakhouse Burger
Perhaps we've been patronizing a less regal tier of restaurants than the King's kitchen corps, but we fail to see how a smattering of frizzled onion chunks and a blop of over-sweet sauce and mayo connotes "steakhouse." Perhaps the aggrandizement is due to the voluminous patty's slightly vulgar bun overhang, but the unclad meatscape feel less like fleshy abandon, and more like a flash of plumber's butt. It's far from a royal embarrassment, but hardly worth the extra cash.
Pizza Hut Tuscani Pasta
Pizza Hut offers Tuscani Pasta options: Premium Bacon Mac 'N Cheese, Meaty Marinara and Creamy Chicken Alfredo. You won't confuse this pasta with a restaurant-quality meal anytime soon; the people in their commercials must have no taste buds. The Meaty Marinara' s sauce was very sweet and pasty, and the pasta itself was overcooked. The meat in the sauce was of excellent quality but overwhelmed by the sauce. The cheese on top was a pleasing bubbling brown color, but there wasn't enough of it. It arrived hot and ready-to-eat, and would make a filling meal, but the Hut should really stick to what they do best.