Review: Buttermilk Chicken Bacon & Swiss from Arby’s
A few years ago it was burgers. Now, fast food is moving in a new direction: Chicken. Spurred by the success of Chick-fil-A, southern food, and all things fried, quick-service chains are giving the once bland and overcooked chicken sandwich a makeover. Arby’s is the latest chain to jump on America’s chicken sandwich love affair. The chain’s new Buttermilk Chicken Sandwiches are touted as bigger than the brand’s previous versions, in addition to getting a buttermilk marinade and a buttermilk breading. I decided to check out the Bacon & Swiss version to see if the sandwiches could live up to the hype.The new sandwiches are definitely bigger, but I don’t know how much “better” they are. The breading on my sandwich reminded me of the breading on the McChicken sandwich; there’s definitely a “value menu” chicken sandwich taste to it, while the slightly crispy, shake-and-bake flavor of the soggy interior crust made itself known in each bite. The meat inside the fillet wasn’t juicy, or succulent, or slightly sweet. In other words—it didn’t taste a damn thing like the gold-standard of chicken sandwiches, the Chick-fil-A chicken fillet. The meat may not have been dry, but it was plainer than a farm in Nebraska and way too salty. Combined with a crust that lacked any distinctive spice or flavor from the cooking oil (or supposed buttermilk breading), the entire chicken component was a letdown. I wish I could say the addition of bacon and cheese made the sandwich worth it, but that just wasn’t the case. My local Arby’s was pretty skimpy on the pepper bacon, while the mild but milky swiss cheese took a few minutes to melt. Both the bacon and the cheese were okay, but they couldn’t make the sandwich. Less than fresh iceberg and tomatoes felt out of place, while the bun, squishy but a tad too doughy, was too much bread for the sandwich. The entire sandwich reminded me of the common analogy that sportscasters use for a young athlete who hasn’t quite matured or grown into his or her body.After having the honey mustard sauce of the new Wendy’s Grilled Chicken sandwich, I was expecting a complex, tart, and sweet sauce from Arby’s. But Arby’s honey mustard is far too viscous and watered down to really make its presence felt, and, buried in the bun and the iceberg lettuce, it hardly touches the chicken.I won’t mince my words: This was the most disappointing sandwich I’ve ever had from Arby’s. The chain that has done such an amazing job of innovating and developing new ways to make meat tasty just couldn’t seem to conquer the chicken sandwich. With plain breading and no discernable buttermilk flavor, the new chicken sandwiches are a definite miss that prove not every menu board “upgrade” is worth it.
Pros: Decently priced and filling sandwich at $4.99. Swiss cheese is a higher quality than most fast food cheeses. Bacon is crispy and has good smoky flavor.
Cons: Buttermilk chicken filet is plain and lacks any buttermilk flavor. Bacon and cheese components don’t mesh with the chicken. Honey mustard is runny and lacks bold flavor. Too much bun.
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 5.00/10
More Info: arbys.com
650 calories, 22 grams of fat, 31 grams of saturated fat, 9 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1750 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbs, 9 grams of sugar, 39 grams of protein