Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Fishy Valentine

Place: Hardee's
Lunch: Charbroiled Atlantic Cod Sandwich (no tomato), Natural Cut Fries, Coke

Me: "Charbroiled Cod combo, no tomato..."

Supercute Smiling Counter Girl:  "Cod no maters..."

Me:  "What?"

Supercute Smiling Counter Girl: "No maters!"

I paused for a second before realizing what she meant and busted out laughing.  Then she started giggling.

Hardee's and Carl's Jr are trying something new for the annual Lenten (fast food fish special) season with a non-breaded, non-fried, charbroiled fish sandwich.  Well played, boys.  It's coated with some sort of seasoning mix and something that holds the thing together through the charbroiler and keeps it moist.  The bun is of the honey wheat variety, a Carl's Jr tradition with fish sandwiches that I don't understand and do not approve of, but it totally works here.  This is a REALLY good sandwich.  FAR exceeded my expectations.  Certainly the most creative fish LTO going on this year.

The window by my table had a big poster for Hardee's Jalapeno Turkey Burger, which has a "Santa Fe sauce", jalapenos, and pepperjack cheese.  I couldn't help but think how awesome a fish version of that sandwich would be.  Get on that, Hardee's.

What else is new in the fast food fish world this season?  (I'm just going to stick to the new and limited time stuff, so if your favorite chain is like Burger King and not doing anything beyond their available-all-year fish sandwich, I'm not bothering...)

McDonalds - McDonald's rolled out the curious "Fish McBites".  They come in three sizes, including a "Snack size" that's on the dollar menu.  Tartar sauce is included, but apparently you can choose from other sauces because when I ordered them, they asked what kind of sauce I wanted.  I didn't ask what the options were.  They're actually pretty good, though I'd love to see a drop of cheese infused in them.  They'd be perfect with that.  The venerable Filet-o-Fish is also available, of course.  Hopefully on sale.

Popeye's - Popeye's annually rolls out their Butterfly Shrimp Tackle Box.  The spice melds perfectly with the shrimp and the cocktail sauce.  This and the Culver's Walleye are the promos I seriously look forward to each year.

Culver's - Although they're heavily advertising the North Atlantic Cod (available in a sandwich or two-piece dinner), the real seasonal treat, the Northwoods Walleye Sandwich, is available too.  Don't fear a fish you don't understand.  Embrace the Walleye.

Del Taco - Beer battered fish tacos and the return of the much loved Crispy Shrimp tacos.  I'm telling you...people get upset when the shrimp tacos go away.

Taco Johns - A fish taco "in a crunchy tortilla crust" with a "fajita sour cream" .  It's a soft shell with the usual lettuce and cheese.  Also "fresh lime".  It's pretty good.

White Castle - WC added "shrimp nibblers" (small crispy shrimp) to a menu that already had "fish nibblers". They also added a fish taco and a shrimp taco that use the nibblers along with Cole slaw and some sort of sauce in a flour tortilla.  Sauce is weird, more Asian than Mexican.

Wendy's - The Premium Cod Fillet is back.  I think it's boring.

Arby's - Their fish sandwich is back, at least in some markets.  Even more boring than Wendy's.

That's...really about all I've noticed.  Not much going on.

No wonder the Pope resigned.

SIDE NOTE: I discovered last night that my local World Market is starting to carry some of the new Dublin Bottling Works sodas, including Dublin distributed XXX Root Beer.  I bought a bunch, but haven't tried them yet.  Anyway, check your local World Market out.

Unless your local World Market is MY local World Market and you want XXX Root Beer.

Because I bought it all.

Friday, February 08, 2013


Place: Long John Silvers/A&W
Lunch: Fish-chicken combo with cheese curds, scrunchies, Coney dog, A&W Root Beer

The longstanding Long John Silver's near the office closed about a month and a half ago for a renovation to add the A&W brand to the mix.  Clearly the renovations were largely to the kitchen as the front dining room is EXACTLY THE SAME.  The side dining room (yes, there's separate dining rooms, always has been) has an A&W theme now, but that's just wallpaper and lamps.

Long John Silver's is a hit-or-miss proposition.  Whereas most fast food fish chains fry to order, LJS doesn't.   Their fish and chicken is just fine if you get it freshly fried, but I've had some outright disgusting experiences with most locations with fried foods that were obviously sitting for hours.  In fact, this location is the exception.  They have a solid crew who are good-to-perfect on their timing.  They are a well-oiled machine.

Or were a well-oiled machine.

They're kind of confused right now.

There used to be like five girls working here.  Now there's more like 72 people behind the counter.  And the woman who has been taking my order for so long she can recite it from memory looks completely lost at the cash register now.

The cash registers, the same old yellow-stained dated Panasonic models they've always had, have a whole new layout of buttons for crap to accommodate the A&W menu.  And she's not used to finding stuff on there.  It doesn't help that some items sound the same, which is how the "orange float" vs "orange freeze" debate started between her and the drink maker.  Or how a chili dog is called a "coney dog" on the menu board, but a "chili & cheese dog" on the cash register.

This worked much better when they only had like five menu items.

It doesn't help that Long John Silver's is the official fast food restaurant of the elderly, and everybody in here who isn't me is over 70.  They don't know what to make of the new menu, so the order line is even slower.

So I spent about ten minutes in line, and another ten waiting for food, which was delivered to my table.  The fish and chicken weren't as hot as normal and not fried as long (therefore not as crispy), but not terrible either.  The chili dog and cheese curds were good. And the A&W root beer was great, even if they didn't have their own draft barrel thingie like the other A&W in town.  It was just on the Pepsi tap, but signs indicated it's still made in-house with cane sugar anyway.

There's a whole new variety of sauces you can have too.  This includes a new tartar sauce, a sweet chili sauce, a Baja spicy sauce, Ranch, and cocktail sauce.  I tried all of the new ones.  I'll be fine not trying the chili or Baja sauce again.  Dipping your LJS chicken in ranch sauce is a whole new level of cool.  Works for the curds too.

So anyway, it's nice to have A&W on tap on this side of town finally.

And a decent chili dog.