You ever do something you are mildly ashamed of? You know one of those things while you are doing it you are thinking “man I’m probably going to regret this…I know better.” Well today was one of those days. The past couple of weeks at Draper’s BBQ have been stress filled and well just a plain mess. So I found myself in my truck this afternoon on the hunt for some lunch when I glanced down to see a coupon from Burger King (enter Jaw’s Theme here). On the coupon I saw the picture of the Texas and Carolina Whopper’s. In what amounts to a moment of self loathing I thought “well, I’ve eaten worse, let’s see how bad this thing is.”
So off I went to the local Burger King which is just around the corner from my office. My coupon was a buy one get one deal (yes you calorie counters I got TWOOOOO of them, thanks for making me feel worse.). I got to the drive through and opted for one Carolina Tendergrill (grilled chicken version) and one Texas Tendergrill. My reasoning for the chicken was two fold. 1 – I needed to feel someone not completely terrible about the calories I was about to consume. 2 – I figured the chicken would interfere less with the flavor of the barbecue sauce. That after all is what makes these sandwiches barbecue, because it sure as heck isn’t the way they are cooked.
I started with the Carolina Tendergrill. I have to first comment that this sandwich was actually put together very nicely. IE…all parts of the sandwich actually made it somewhat between the bun and it at least resembled the picture in the advertisements. The pic above is what I found when I opened the box.
The Burger King website describes this yardbird on bun as:
A juicy fire-grilled premium white meat chicken fillet topped with pepper jack cheese, naturally smoked thick-cut bacon, freshly chopped iceberg lettuce, red onions and ripe tomatoes, smothered with a sweet southern sauce and the tang of Carolina BBQ sauce, all on a warm toasted, artisan-style bun.
Given that description I will respond to each of their claims. The meat did indeed appear and taste fire-grilled. It was pretty juicy, at least not dry in any way that I noted. It was in fact topped with a white cheese, although if it was pepper jack I didn’t get any hints of pepper at all. It did have nice pieces of bacon, and they were even what some might consider thick-cut. The lettuce, could have been fresher, but better than what I have come to expect from most fast food establishments. The tomatoes were ripe and nice. I opted for no onions, because I personally am not a fan of fast food onions typically due to indigestion issues. The bun was nice but I would call it “artisan-like” instead of “artisan-styled.” It wasn’t a bad bun at all, but a stretch to claim artestry there.
Now the important piece, the sauce. Now being a sauce guy I expected I would rip this area apart. You know what? I really have nothing bad to say about the Carolina sauce. Now is it true to Carolina? Eh, that might be a stretch much like the artisan bun. It is however, sweet and tangy and a nice complement to the sandwich overall. Dare I say that I actually enjoyed it? Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I did.
Next I tried the Texas Tendergrill. You can pretty much copy all the features and comments about the Carolina Tendergrill and insert them here. For the record this is how Burger King describes it though:
A juicy fire-grilled premium chicken fillet topped with a thick slice of melted American cheese, freshly cut iceberg lettuce, red onions, ripe tomatoes and jalapeño slices, smothered in a smoky and spicy Texas BBQ sauce all on a warm, toasted artisan-style bun.
Other than the change in sauce and cheese and the addition of jalapeno’s it is the same sandwich.
My overall take on the Texas version is unfortunately not as favorable as the Carolina version. The sandwich and toppings themselves are fine, until you get to the sauce. The Texas sauce was just too heavy handed with liquid smoke. I, for the record, don’t mind liquid smoke and it has it’s place when used correctly. Unfortunately, this is not one of those instances. The Texas sauce in its effort to be bolder just comes off as off putting. I did like the spice it had, but I think most of that could be attributed to the jalapenos and not the sauce.
So if you find yourself in a moment of weakness and in the line at a Burger King I say give the Carolina Tendergrill a shot, you may find like I did that it’s actually pretty good. Now….who do I call at BK Corp for making a pulled pork sandwich??!!!! HERESY I SAY!
Love, peace and pork grease folks!