I don't eat fast very often, but when I do, it's usually at lunch when I'll hit the drive thru on the way back to work after running errands. Lately I've been super disappointed with what I've gotten at different fast food restaurants, and I wonder if I'm just trying the wrong things or if other people have had the same experience.
I'm not even thinking about nutrition, fat, and calories. I think we all know that fast food is generally not great for us, but I do occasionally sacrifice good, healthy food choices to food that's tasty and fast. And historically, most fast food has been bad but reasonably tasty. But not lately, it seems.
A few weeks ago, I visited the Colonel at KFC and ordered the chicken strip snack meal. For once, the mammoth cut fries were okay but the chicken breast strips seemed kind of spongy and the taste wasn't that great. And there wasn't any sauce for the strips. Isn't there supposed to be sauce, or maybe they should offer? I hate not knowing what I'm getting and what I'm supposed to ask for separately.
And that reminds me. Awhile ago, I stopped at Chipotle on my way home from errands and grocery shopping one night. I don't go to Chipotle often enough to be familiar with their menu, so as I was standing in line, waiting to order, I read the descriptions of their burritos, tacos, salads, etc. I decided burritos were the easiest things to order and bring home, but when I got to the front of the line, the people behind the counter preparing the food wanted to ask me all kinds of questions about what I wanted in my burritos. Hey, wait a minute! Didn't I just read a list of stuff that comes in the burritos standard? Then why are they asking me? I was so discombobulated, I forgot to tell them I wanted salsa, so our burritos were kind of dry and boring! And besides that, I couldn't remember what was standard and what they charged extra for, so I probably ended up spending a little more than I anticipated.
The same sort of thing happens at Subway. I'll go in thinking about their television ads and the guy who lost all the weight by eating Subway sandwiches, but then when I order, they try to tempt me with stuff like cheese and mayo and there's really no posted "low calorie" menu--you're actually supposed to know what's okay and what's not. I think the sandwich makers should at least know what their company's advertising point is. I've asked them before to make me the low fat/low calorie version of whatever it is, and they just look at me kind of blankly. Sheesh!
Anyway, I've gotten off track talking about the frustration of ordering at certain restaurants when what I really wanted to talk about was the disappointing TASTE of fast food.
I saw a McDonald's billboard recently that advertised a new sandwich--a crispy chicken sandwich with jalapenos and cheddar cheese. Sounded good; looked good. A few days later, I was running errands at lunch with no time to eat, so I hit the McD drive thru and ordered the new sandwich. Mistake. (By the way, I really LIKE McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich--without mayo, which is actually fairly healthy too.) The jalapeno peppers tasted like pure chemicals and the chicken patty tasted like what it was--pressed and formed, breaded and fried.
Today might have been the worst though. I had some errands to run and the only drive thru on my way back to the office was Jack in the Box. I used to like Jack in the Box and they may even still sell a couple decent menu items now, but I don't go in often enough to really know. This time, though, I decided to try one of their newer items, the sirlon burger with Swiss cheese and grilled onions. The meat had a nasty flavor--it reminded me of when I was a kid and my mom would slap some unseasoned hamburger into patties, fry them, and stick them on buns. Maybe it's the flavor of cheap grease or something. Worse, though, was that the bun was dry and stale--it kept breaking apart every time I took a bite. I had ordered the small combo meal, which means this really poor excuse for a meal cost around $7.50, but at least I had the fries, which were somewhat decent. (That photo at the top is what the burger is supposed to look like. Of course it doesn't, but I wouldn't really expect it to, just as long as it TASTES like that looks.)
I wonder whether fast food restaurants are so anxious to come up with the "new thing" that they forget that sometimes simple food, when done well, is really the best. For instance, In and Out Burger, which is only here on the west coast I think, keeps their menu simple--single burger, single cheese burger, or double burgers of each. Onion, tomato, and lettuce. A bun. That's pretty much all. But everything tastes fresh and good, and that's the secret to their success. That and reasonable prices, which they can do because the menu is simple and they don't have to stock a lot of supplies that may not be used. It's just too bad there's not one close to my office!
So how about you? When you have to hit the drive thru, what's your favorite place and meal? Help me out here, because if I'm going to sacrifice health to speed and taste, it better at least TASTE good!