Fast Food Review: New! Bruschetta Chicken Sandwich from Wendy’s
I’ve been extremely jealous of Europeans for most of my life. No, not because I fantasize about socialism and nude beaches, but because their fast food looks so dang tasty when compared to ours. I mean seriously. Cadbury Creme McFlurries? Sign me up! Ciabatta Delux Burger? Um, yes please! But what do we get back here in the good ol’ US of A? None of that, that’s what we get. Instead of innovative flavor profiles it seems like the only risks fast food companies are taking is rolling out the “spicy” menu items. Oh please. Even Bobby Flay has moved beyond rubbery cheddar cheese, jalapenos, and fake chipotle sauce. Nonsensical I say; I demand something with actual taste!
Thankfully, Wendy’s has heard my call for help, and is willing to indulge the part of me which longs for my ancestral homeland of Italy. As we told you the other day, Wendy’s has revamped their entire line of premium chicken sandwiches, adding “artisan” buns and promising a “100% whole breast fillet.” Introducing the new changes in the Salt Lake City and Columbus markets, one of the two new additions to the Wendy’s premium chicken menu is the Bruschetta Chicken Sandwich. Featuring Asiago Cheese, a grilled chicken breast fillet, balsamic glaze, and bruschetta topping tucked between that new, buttered “artisan bun”, the sandwich retails for $4.49 on it’s own. For that kind of price, it better be worth it to me, especially considering I blew the extent of my textbook buyback money on it, in the process passing up the equivalent of four small Frostys.
Well, I’m sure glad I did, because this is, without a doubt, the most flavorful grilled chicken sandwich I have ever eaten at a fast food restaurant. Granted, grilled chicken sandwiches are not exactly a fast food specialty – but if anything, the Bruschetta Chicken proves that the longtime “healthier” menu options need not be relegated to an overpriced, boring, bone-dry piece of enhanced white meat that tastes just as awesome as it sounds (ahem, Sonic.) That it contains a flavor profile that doesn’t rely on “hot,” “spicy” or “cheddar” is definitely a plus, and might just be the most innovative chicken sandwich to hit the market since Carl’s Jr.’s short-lived Parmesan Chicken.
This isn’t just the jingoistic Italian in me talking though. The new buns are actually pretty good. They’re soft, pillowy, yet firm, and the buttered coating is flavorful and works to keep the integrity of the bun without saturating it in liquid. It also actually tastes like butter and not partially hydrogenated liquid soybean oil, which is a huge plus. It’s chewy without being honey wheaty like most chicken sandwich buns, and has a slightly sweet taste. As for the bruschetta topping, it’s the real deal. I mean, this is the kind of stuff I expect to eat in a sit down chain. The tomatoes are fresh and firm and sweet, while a hearty portion of basil, garlic and onion gives a great Italian flavor that could more than pass as a bruschetta topping at any Italian chain. The glaze is sweet and has good body – neither too oily, nor too runny. It’s more restrained on the tang component and acidity, but once again, it’s better than one would hope to find at a fast food restaraunt.
Interestingly enough though, I find the dominant flavor on my first bite to actually be the cheese. This is not your ordinary, half-melted Cheddar or American. True, you could complain it’s not authentic, aged Asiago d’allevo of DOP protected status, but look, this is Wendy’s we’re talking about. For what it is, it is extremely good – slighty nutty with a meaty flavor, it’s got more body than any fast food cheese I’ve had, as in ever. It offsets the sweetness of the glaze nicely, and it’s a definite plus in this application.
That new “100% breast fillet,” you ask? Better than the previous attempts by Wendy’s, and, in my opinion, rivals Chick-fil-A’s Chargrilled Chicken. I don’t think it’s as tender or juicy as Chick-fil-A’s breast (marinated in pickle juice, I’m told) but it’s by no means dry, and by no means enhanced. As you can see, it is a full breast, and has no rib meat added. It even has the slightly sweet taste of chicken after you chew it. My only complaint (and it’s minor) is that it doesn’t seem marinated in a balsamic flavor, and is thus at the mercy of the glaze, which unfortunately is not also applied on the underside of the sandwich, where it would even better play off the nutty, salty cheese.
Minor complaints… Yes, at $4.49, it’s approaching the high-end of fast food prices for a single menu item. But then again, it’s approaching, if not surpassing, that of sit down chain food. Considering Wendy’s offers customizable sides in their combos, and considering the sandwich really can’t be duplicated on the fast food market, I’d say it’s a good value despite the price. I’d also say it’s incredibly tasty, and will even give diehard fried chicken sandwich fans reason to go grilled. Oh yea, Viva Italia!
Pros: Sit-down Italian chain flavor at fast food restaraunt. Grilled chicken that's moist and flavorful on it's own, but takes on another level with unparalleled toppings. Nutty, meaty cheese pairs perfectly with sweetness of balsamic, brightness of herbs, and crispness of tomato. Not having to write a review describing something as "hot" or "spicy."
Cons: Admitting Europe ain't so bad after all. Somewhat pricey. Sauce could be infused in the chicken better or also could be coated on underside of bun. Limited availability.
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 9.00 (Exceptional)
More Info: Wendys.com
Grilled Bruschetta Chicken Sandwich on Artisan Bun
Total Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 105 mg
Sodium: 1430 mg
Total Carbs: 45 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 11 g
Protein: 39 g