Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I ate Carl's Jr.'s Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders and all you get is this lousy review!
Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders (Carl's Jr.)
Ah, Carl's Jr. For many years, I only knew of its existence from watching White Sox road games on television, where it was advertised on those rotating billboards that were placed behind home plate. By the time I was finally able to try Carl's Jr., I was in my late twenties and it was after that whole Paris Hilton mess, so it sort of lost its luster in a way. Moreover, the concept of pineapple on a burger appeals to me about as much as ground beef in a fruit cocktail, while the Western Bacon Cheeseburger is like a glorified Rodeo Cheeseburger, though I'd be remiss not to point out that Carl's holds that #4 spot on the hamburger canon, right under Wendy's, whose burger patties are decidedly inferior.
That said, it's undeniable that Carl's is primarily a burger joint, even though they have a fairly sizable list of chicken items. But why in the sam hell would I want to try these new chicken tenders? The main draw, here, is that, as opposed to the franchise's chicken strips, which come shipped in frozen (as with most fast-food restaurants), these "tenders" are freshly prepared at the restaurant, and possibly made to order.
Available dipping sauces include buttermilk ranch, "Sweet & Bold" barbecue sauce, honey mustard, "Kickin' Asian Sweet & Spicy" and something simply called "white gravy." I was weighing heavily toward the Asian one, though at the last minute (semen jokes notwithstanding), I decided to go with this mysterious, possibly enigmatic "white gravy." Worst-case scenario, the gravy would get thrown away and I'd finish the tenders with my trusty bottle of La Choy sweet and sour sauce.
My tenders were hot, fresh and pretty effing delicious. The buttermilk breading is light and crispy, and more similar to Chick-fil-A than the thicker breading found on other, similar fast-food chicken products. And as a side note, some consumers might find the breading to be a bit too salty, though I happened to like this. (As a card-carrying Mexican, I put salt and/or lime on just about everything.) The meat is lean but juicy, and of top-notch quality, though I've got to say that I expected these things to be a bit bigger. A three-piece order is little more than a snack, and a five-piece might suffice as a meal when accompanied by one of Carl's smaller burgers or a large side.
Oh yeah, and we mustn't forget about that "white gravy." Seeing as Carl's Jr. now advertises Hardee's freshly made biscuits, that "white gravy" is the white country gravy that comes with said biscuits. I don't know about you, but I happen to love country gravy, so I didn't need that sweet and sour sauce after all. The gravy came piping hot in a four-ounce styrofoam container, and I was strongly considering saving what was left over. However, that would have required me to go out to the grocery store and get some biscuits or rolls, and I'll be avoiding stores like the plague until next week, thankyaveddymuch.
If you're buying one of Carl's trademark charbroiled burgers, and feel like springing an extra three bucks for a side of these tenders, you'll have yourself a pretty satisfying meal. If you've got a taste for primarily chicken, the ten- or twenty-piece boxes would make a great meal, but those will both run you over six-dollar mark for the tenders alone. So, while they don't get my seal of approval from a cost-effectiveness standpoint (though they are similar in price to the tenders found at the aforementioned Chick-fil-A, and similar in quality as well), Carl's Jr.'s Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders are definitely a quality item worth trying.
Rating (out of 5):
(Image appropriated for demonstrative purposes from CarlsJr.com)