Tag Archives: chipotle

News: Taco Bell Wants to Get You Loaded with Two New Loaded Grillers

Taco Bell Loaded Grillers POP - Low ResStarting on January 23rd, joining the two already-existing Loaded Grillers (Beefy Nacho and Loaded Potato) are two new Loaded Grillers designed to taste like popular appetizers all rolled up in a tortilla.

The first is the Chipotle Ranch Chicken Loaded Griller, “Taco Bell’s take on a spicy chicken wing with ranch dip, and it includes grilled chicken, kicked-up chipotle ranch sauce and cool sour cream, all wrapped up and grilled for maximum portability.”

The second is the Chili Cheese Fries Loaded Griller, “Our version of loaded chili cheese fries, featuring savory chili, crispy potato bites and warm nacho cheese sauce, all wrapped in a tortilla and grilled.”

I’m honestly intrigued by both of these new offerings, although it sounds more like they should be calling them Stoner Grillers as opposed to Loaded Grillers.

I don’t know what price Loaded Grillers usually go for, but for a limited time all four offerings will be sold for $1 all day long, as opposed to just during “Happier Hour” (2-5pm).

Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger and Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt

Please welcome special guest reviewer Robert (Not Bob).  A little while back, GrubGrade broke the news that Wendy’s had some new items in test markets. One of these items was being tested in the Dallas area. My friend Robert lives around there, so I asked him if he would try it out and write a review for me. To my astonishment, he actually did! Enjoy this sneak peak of what may someday come to a Wendy’s near you!

To me, Wendy’s seems to be the “Red Haired Step-Child” of fast food chains. They’ve even acknowledged this by choosing a red haired, and presumably gap-toothed, hayseedish-looking child as their mascot.

Unlike your usual reviewers, I’m not a habitual frequenter of fast food restaurants. But the 3 or 6 times a year I do consent to go to one, I never even consider Wendy’s. Hell, they can’t even make their hamburger patties the right shape.

A quick look at the Wikipedia page for Wendy’s tells me that it’s the third largest hamburger chain after McDonald’s and Burger King, which surprises me, because I personally can’t find anyone that’ll admit to frequenting their establishment. As for myself, I honestly think that the last time I visited one was about 20 years ago, when I was dirt-poor and in college, and discovered their cheap-and-surprisingly-good chili. Most of the people I talked to about Wendy’s seemed to share the same opinion, which is “They have a couple of things that are pretty good, but when I want a burger, I go elsewhere.”

At this point, I’ll pause to point out that the sole qualification I have for writing this review is that I live in North-Central Texas, where Wendy’s is test marketing a couple of new menu items.

Like every other chain, Wendy’s is rolling out a spicy chicken sandwich. Since chipotle is the “go-to” spicy of fast food, they’ve jumped on that bandwagon too, resulting in the “Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwich”.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped into a local Wendy’s is that the average age of their patrons appears to be hovering around the 65~70 mark. Maybe that’s the secret of their success. The geezers don’t want to dodge the kids at McDonalds and they don’t want to associate with the potheads at Taco Bell, so they’ve made Wendy’s their destination restaurant. Hey, they actually have “Old Fashioned” as part of their subtitle, so that may actually be the market they’re playing for.

The second thing I noticed was that my target sandwich is a 99-cent item and has a companion menu item, the 99-cent Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger. I decided to take one for the team and try them both. I also decided to give their much-hyped Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt a shot, so you get a bonus review, even though it’s a review of something that’s been around for six months.

Let’s take a look under the hood of the Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken.

As expected, there’s the orange-y chipotle sauce that shows up so often on “spicy chipotle” fast food items. A quick by-itself taste test reveals that it’s not as spicy or tangy as most. In fact, it appears that the main thing it brings to the party is “orange”. The chicken looks to be a standard, un-spicy pre-formed patty and the cheese is maybe white American or Swiss.

The real surprise is the jalapeños. Didn’t see that one coming. As a food item billed as “chipotle”, it’s supposed to get it’s spicy from a sauce or seasoning from dried, smoked jalapeños, not from fresh or pickled ones.

After tasting the sandwich, I can say that it’s a good thing they’re there. The chicken patty itself is fine, although you’d never mistake it for the vastly superior chicken of Chik-Fil-A. As expected, the sauce really didn’t add much spice, just kept the overall sandwich from being overly dry. Even in that function it didn’t do very well, since its application was a little sparse for my taste. The jalapeños, however, held up their end of the bargain and added a decent amount of bite. Much like the presence of Patrick Warburton in a substandard kiddie movie, they made a mediocre offering palatable, even mildly enjoyable.

Ok, time to look at the Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger, which features the exact same ingredients, but with the weird square patty instead of the chicken.

After only one bite I finally, instantly understood why Wendy’s hamburger patties are square.

It’s a warning. Like the brilliant colors on a poison dart frog, it’s nature’s way of saying “Don’t Touch”. The meat had an unhealthy, “off” taste that seriously made me unable to even taste the jalapeños, let alone the bland chipotle sauce.

Shuddering at the memory, I cleansed my palate and moved on to the Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt.

I’m not a big french-fry eater. I honestly think they’re an over-rated side, and that their success is mostly due to their portability and America’s love affair with salt and dipping food into other food.

However, I must say, these were some pretty tasty fries. The left-on skin gave them a hardier, more potato-y flavor than you usually get out of a fast food fry, and the use of sea salt instead of table salt was noticeable, if only slightly. Wendy’s got it about right on these.

In conclusion, I’ll say that the Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken is a fairly decent offering for a 99-cent value-meal item (even if it’s name is a lie) and the Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt live up to their name. However, the Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger is literally uneatable, due to the nasty-tasting beef that Wendy’s apparently uses. However, if you decide to try any of them, I recommend bringing along this if you actually want to taste anything that even vaguely resembles chipotle.

Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwich

  • Score: 3 out of 5 surprise jalapeños
  • Price: 99-cents
  • Size: 1 sandwich
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Nutritional Quirks: Sauce apparently more ornamental than functional.

Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger

  • Score: 1 out of 5 poisonous amphibians
  • Price: 99-cents
  • Size:1 burger
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Nutritional Quirks: Square hamburger patties preferred by the geriatric.

Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt

  • Score: 4 out of 5 Lot’s wives
  • Price: 99-cents
  • Size: 1 value-size container
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Nutritional Quirks: Sprayed with sodium acid pyrophosphate, dusted with dextrose corn sugar and boiled in oil containing dimethylpolysiloxane.  Oh, and there’s presumably some sea salt in there somewhere.

McDonald’s Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus

McDonald’s has already introduced three other Angus burgers, and I have somehow managed to skip out on all of them. That’s about to change, because they’ve just launched a fourth one, the Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus, and I have it in my hungry little hands.

From the mouth of Ronald McDonald and his marketing team, “Make time for the bold taste of a third-pound* 100% Angus beef smothered in sensationally sweet ‘n smoky Chipotle BBQ sauce, kicked up with crisp red onions, sliced pickles and two slices of American cheese, all on a toasted sesame seed bun.”

For the sake of full disclosure, the asterisk leads to this message: “*weight before cooking at least 5.33 oz (151.1 gms). At participating McDonald’s.” Valuable information I’m sure you wanted to know.

I love chipotle. Chipotle is really hot right now (har har), which usually annoys me, because once a flavor gets hot it sneaks itself into every food possible. I wouldn’t be surprised to see pomegranates on top of a hamburger at some point, since pomegranate is so in at the moment. I imagine marketing departments scrambling around, trying to figure out how to incorporate the latest fad flavor into every single item on the menu.

I just realized something. Fast food is a lot like fashion. That’s creepy.

Anyway, I can’t fault McDonald’s for putting chipotle on a hamburger. My husband has been using chipotle in his hamburgers for years. Chipotle and meat go together great. I’m glad to see they’re finally dating publicly. I even saw chipotle wearing hamburger’s Letterman’s jacket in home room the other day. They seemed happy together.

Let’s start with the good: McDonald’s Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus is hefty. The Angus beef patty was large, juicy and flavorful, which was a surprise to me, compared to a regular McDonald’s burger. The Angus really steps it up on quality and flavor. Also, the red onions were fresh and added a good crunch.

Sadly, those are about the only good things I can say about this burger. The BBQ sauce was okay, but there was nothing chipotle about it. Chipotle has a very distinct flavor – spicy, smokey goodness – and I worked hard, but just could not find it. Sure, there was some smokiness, but it was the kind that comes with BBQ sauce, not chipotle. If you’d blindfolded me and handed me the burger and asked me to describe it, I would have said it’s a burger with BBQ sauce on it. The word chipotle would have never passed my lips.

Actually, I would have said it’s a BBQ burger with Limp Bacon Syndrome. The bacon was plentiful, but it was the same sad little floppy strips you usually come across. I’ll revise my blindfolded evaluation one more time: I would have said it’s a BBQ burger with Limp Bacon Syndrome and a strangely overwhelming amount of pickles. Yes, that’s right – the pickles. They were the most prominent flavor on the burger. I thought maybe it was just a fluke, so I asked my husband, who had also ordered a Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus. He said he had been thinking the exact same thing. I didn’t count the amount of pickles on the burger, but I should have. Perhaps it had the standard amount of pickles and they just didn’t jive with the sauce, which made their flavor stand out. I don’t know what it was. All I know is pickles, pickles everywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a pickle problem with a burger before, but there you have it.

I was really disappointed in McDonald’s Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus. I loved the hamburger patty and will probably try one of the three other Angus burgers as a result, but when you have something in the name that is impossible to detect (at least to me), sad bacon on what is supposed to be a high(er)-quality burger, and strangely overpowering pickles, you don’t have a successful burger concept. Especially not for the price. I expected good things from the Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus, and I didn’t get what I wanted. I have to end this review now, because I have to go McDonald’s and throw an inappropriate tantrum in the middle of their restaurant.

(Note: The Impulsive Buy, GrubGrade, We Rate Stuff and An Immovable Feast also reviewed this burger.)

  • Score: 2 out of 5 so many pickles
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: At least 5.33 oz. before cooking
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s #1[number didn’t print on receipt]427
  • Nutritional Quirks: Pickles provide 10 mg of calcium.  Who knew?

Athens Hors d’oeuvres Chipotle Cheese in Black Bean Fillo Shells

Athens Hors d'oeuvres Chipotle Cheese Black Bean Fillo ThumbI found these new Athens Hors d’oeuvres, which I will from here on call Hors to avoid spelling errors, in my grocer’s freezer section, filling up the space that my beloved  Joy of Cooking products had once occupied. Once my rageful pounding on the glass of the freezer door had subsided and the opaque red film had faded from my vision, I took a closer look at them. I am a sucker for most foods Mediterranean, and my love of appetizers is legendary, so if you name your company Athens and start talking about Hors, I can’t help but show some interest.

Athens Hors d'oeuvres Chipotle Cheese Black Bean Fillo Front

Chipotle Cheese and Black Bean seems an odd choice for a decidedly Greek-sounding product, which is, of course, why I chose them. I also chose the spinach and feta variety, but who wants to hear about them. It’s much more fun to mock a Greek appetizer that’s trying to be Mexican.

Athens Hors d'oeuvres Chipotle Cheese Black Bean Fillo Back

There are six varieties of Hors, and I will list them for you, as well as a brief comment regarding how appropriate they are in the realm of Greek appetizers, summoned up by an extremely arbitrary rating system:

  • Mediterranean Vegetables in Corn Fillo Shells – I don’t normally associate corn with fillo, but they get a pass for using the word “Mediterranean”. 3 gyros.
  • Chipotle Cheese in Black Bean Fillo Shells – There is nothing Greek about this at all, but at least they used fillo (or at least the word) and didn’t just go with a mini tostada shell. 0.5 gyros.
  • Spinach and Feta in Traditional Fillo Shells – See, now we’re talking. This is all Greek, all the time, and they didn’t even fuck with the fillo. 5 gyros.
  • Artichoke and Cheese in Spinach Fillo Shells – Still pretty traditional, but anything Greek without feta is a small crime. 4 gyros.
  • Three Cheese in Tomato Fillo Shells – Feels like they’re kind of phoning it in on this one. Tweak it a little and it could be a Tostinos Pizza Roll. 2 gyros.
  • Salmon and Cheese in Traditional Fillo Shells – The type of cheese isn’t specified, but I’m going to assume it’s cream cheese, and these guys are a hit in the Jewish community. 1 gyro.

But enough of this. We’ve only got one flavor on the table today, and it’s the Greek/Mexican fusion that is becoming all the rage amongst the hipster crowd. Or haven’t your heard? Well, let’s check these little puppies out.

Athens Chipotle Frozen

Aw, they come in a cute little tray, each with its own cup so that nobody has to fight over space or possibly cultural tensions. Hard to see if they’ll come out looking like the picture on the front of the box, at this point. The box describes them as “zesty chipotle cheese with red and green bell peppers, plus a dash of lime juice, cumin and cilantro”. I have to say, they sound more appetizing than most supposedly authentic frozen Mexican foods. I’m looking at you,  José Olé.

The box commands me to bake them at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Microwaving is not recommended, you lazy assholes. I assume microwaving them would result in a lovely mess of molten cheese and completely mushy fillo. I always obey the box.

I only cooked four out of the 12 that come in the box. I thought that would showcase my delicate feminine appetite, until I read the back of the box and saw that the suggested serving size is two. I guess that is why they are Hors d’whatevers and not a Hungry Man dinner. Of course, the back of the box also suggests that you can turn them into a light meal. Whether or not they imply that the suggested serving size of two is a light meal (anorexic ladies, I’m looking at you!), or that the whole box of 12 is a light meal (bulimic ladies, I’m looking at you!), I haven’t a clue. But I’m going to stand behind my choice of four and not get neurotic about what kind of meal portion choice I’m making.

Athens Hors d'oeuvres Chipotle Cheese Black Bean Fillo Done

Not quite as lively as the front of the box would indicate, but that’s to be expected. The top of the cheese looks shriveled, but the fillo cups are crisp and crunchy, holding up quite nicely. The smell is cheesy, the kind of processed cheese odor that wafts off of your typical microwaved nacho cheese sauce.

They taste disappointingly generic. The crunch of the fillo is a nice contrast to the squishy cheese, but make sure you have a plate, because if you’re not going to eat it in one bite, the flaky dough is going to go flying everywhere when you bite into it. I’ll halfheartedly back up their claims of “zesty”, but their enticing description on the front of the box pretty much ends there, in terms of validity. The cheese filling could be pretty much any other cheese filling from any other frozen food product. When I think chipotle, I think smoky, and there’s no hint of that. The lime and cilantro are also disappointingly absent from the party. I’ll give the bell peppers some credit, if only because there was a hint of that “zesty” in there, just enough to keep it from tasting like bland cheese filling. I actually thought I caught a hint of black bean, so I broke off some of the fillo to eat on its own, but the fillo itself was flavorless. It’s possible they added some black bean flavoring to the cheese itself, which gave it just a hint of depth.

Basically, Athens Hors d’oeuvres Chipotle Cheese in Black Bean Fillo Shells are more of a mindless junk food than an elegant Hor that you can present to all your guests at your elegant dinner party. Something you can pop into the oven and eat 20 minutes later while you sit in front of the TV and watch reruns of Three’s Company. Squishy cheese in a crunchy shell; it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just something you eat at 1pm on a Saturday to tide you over until it’s time to order a pizza. You could substitute a dozen other frozen appetizers and get the same result – I ate something, it had an okay flavor, now my stomach will shut up for a couple of hours.

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 Hors
  • Price: $5.79
  • Size: 12 pieces (5.9 oz.)
  • Purchased at: Albertsons #980
  • Nutritional Quirks: Ingredients contain chipotle powder, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, and black bean powder, yet none can be tasted.