Review: Cheese Curds from A&W
It’s not often that I find myself close to an A&W restaurant so when I happened to come across one recently, I had to stop for a quick bite. That quick bite turned into an 18-minute wait in the drive-thru lane that only had two cars in front of me. A Saturday afternoon lunch rush at A&W proved to be one of the worst experiences I’ve had in terms of wait-time. Not since the 26-minute Boston Market drive-thru back in 2009 had I fought such inept service. So yeah, with that out of the way, this review is all about Cheese Curds.
A&W describes their Cheese Curds like this:
Curiously Delicious A&W Cheese Curds are made with real 100% Wisconsin white cheddar cheese, lightly breaded, and fried to a golden brown. Pop’em. Stretch’em. Taste perfection.
I don’t know anything about cheese curds. In fact, this was my first ever experience with cheese curds. I’m from Maryland and cheese curds are more of a midwest American thing from what I can gather. The differences between Canadian cheese curds and Minnesota cheese curds and Wisconsin cheese curds can be left to the experts, but all I really know is that when speaking of fried cheese curds, someone told me, “They’re bastardizing the Wisconsin concept of cheese curds”. Whatever the case, I’m no purist and I liked what A&W was offering.
Going into my first experience with “fried” cheese curds, I sort of expected a more poppable style of mozzarella stick and that’s not too inaccurate from what it was. It’s balls of fried cheese, but no dipping sauce or flaky crusty breading like I get with a mozz stick. The A&W Cheese Curds are described pretty dead-on. Lightly breaded… check. Fried to a golden brown… check. The Wisconsin white cheddar didn’t have too sharp of a taste to it, but cheddary enough. Slightly chewy like a fried mozzarella stick, these cheese curds came piping hot and a great snack for grubbing on the go. The packaging is designed to fit in your car cup holder (see above) and is reminiscent of the packaging McDonald’s uses with their McBites (see also). The fried batter had an oily, slightly crunchy exterior and on the inside, the gooey melted cheddar provided a delicate tinge of salt. Hot is the only way to go as these fried cheese balls became something completely different when refrigerated. Get’em while they’re hot!
Priced at $2.99, my box came with around 20-something fried cheese curds of different shapes and sizes. I feel the $2.99 price tag was decently priced. I’m used to dipping sauces with any kind of side item like this but I have a feeling cheese curds are meant to stand alone and they did their job just fine.
One day I will be able to say that I’ve had a legit cheese curd from Wisconsin and compare that to a fried cheese curd found at the Minnesota State fair. As it stands now, I’m a self-admitted amateur who hasn’t even had Culver’s cheese curds. The A&W Cheese Curds are off my list of “fast food items I actually haven’t tried yet” and in my brief experience, they were a really good side item that I’d not hesitate to pick up again.
Pros: It's fried cheese! Great packaging for grubbing on the go. Great side item when served hot. Lightly breaded like a good onion ring, not like a mozz stick.
Cons: Eat it within minutes or else it transforms into a sad lump with an odd texture and taste. A&W drive-thru lunch rush on a Saturday.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.75/10
Overall GrubGrade: 7.75/10
More Info: http://www.awrestaurants.com
Serving Size: 5 oz regular
Calories - 570
Total Fat - 40 grams
Saturated Fat - 21 grams
Cholesterol - 105 milligrams
Sodium - 1220 milligrams
Carbs - 27 grams
Dietary Fiber - 2 grams
Protein - 27 grams