Archives for the month of: October, 2016

After checking in on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Square, it’s time to continue Dunkin’ Donuts week with their Belgian Waffle Breakfast Sandwich. As someone who went through most of my life ignoring the fact that breakfast existed and only eating it when absolutely necessary, the revelation that a well-made and constructed breakfast sandwich is truly an amazing thing came to me later in life. While I still can find quibble with portions (there’s never enough bacon to justify ordering bacon as the meat instead of sausage and it’s amazing how many calories are packed into a reasonably sized sandwich), I look forward to any chance when I can eat a good breakfast sandwich (or burrito).

When I saw that Dunkin’ Donuts had rolled out a waffle sandwich, it was only a matter of time before I gave it a shot. While the sticker on the door also showed a non-breakfast option with chicken*, I knew I’d be going breakfast on this one.

*I have actually eaten a chicken patty from Dunkin’ Donuts. I would not advise others to do so. It’s not terrible, but because they don’t have a fryer in-house, it tastes like a frozen chicken patty that you decided to microwave instead of bake because who the hell has 45 minutes to bake a frozen chicken patty just so it can be crispy?

The Dunkin’ Belgian Waffle Breakfast Sandwich contains “Cherrywood Smoked Bacon, American Cheese and Egg, between two delicious Belgian waffles.” The sandwich is priced at $3.99 on its own. It is available as a meal with your choice of beverage, but because there’s so much variation there, I didn’t write the price down. I got mine with a large iced coffee, pushing the cost over $7.

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When unwrapping the sandwich, I had two immediate impressions: 1) the sandwich was kinda small and 2) it smelled absolutely fantastic. Like better than McDonald’s hotcakes fantastic, and I think McDonald’s hotcakes (or do they call them pancakes now?) are probably the best smelling fast food. If they tasted half as good as they smelled, I’d eat them at least once a week. Anyway, back on topic, the sandwich smelled great. A sweet aroma, without being too sweet, with a hint of bacon. They could sell this as a cologne. People would buy it and be hungry all the time.

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Examining the sandwich… the waffle was floppy, which was disappointing. This comes back to my discussion of Dunkin’ chicken above: because they only have limited appliances with which to cook food, it’s tough to get things crispy. While I wouldn’t have wanted a super crispy waffle, it would have been nice if it had some resistance and maybe changed the texture of the sandwich, instead of relying solely on the bacon to do so.

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Floppiness aside, my first bite was pretty good.  The waffle was very good, it had a sweet taste that was definitely satisfying. The egg certainly tasted real and I had no complaints. I did get bacon in that bite as well, but there wasn’t a lot of bacon on the sandwich. The bacon was thin, so you could get some porky smokiness, but the dominant flavor of the sandwich was the waffle, egg, and cheese. It had a good taste, but the sandwich really would have been better served with more bacon. Considering the size of the sandwich, they could probably have a sufficient amount by using two full slices and cutting/folding them to cover the whole interior. There’s no good reason why they couldn’t add more and keep it around the same price.

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As I continued eating, the cheese melted and adding some moisture to the sandwich, but I think it would have been better served with an actual sauce. I could see a little drizzle of syrup and/or some hot sauce really livening up the experience. The flavors would go well, and the sandwich wouldn’t be as dry.

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I would eat the Belgian Waffle Breakfast Sandwich if I was at Dunkin’ and smelled those damn waffles. Surprisingly, considering its size, I was satisfied after I finished. I ate around 11am and wound up skipping lunch that day, which I didn’t expect. I liked the egg, the waffle had a great taste and smell, and the bacon and cheese added just enough salt and texture to make this a win. I’d probably add my own syrup or hot sauce, but that’s an easy fix, and I’d rather add my own syrup than see the sandwich drenched in it. The only qualification is the price. I have a hard time seeing value in a sandwich and iced coffee costing over $7, but if that doesn’t bother you and/or you’re feeling particularly flush in the wallet, then I’d give this a shot.

 

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Welcome to Dunkin’ Donuts week! I realized I’ve never actually reviewed anything from Dunkin’ for the blog, so this week I’ll be posting on two items I’ve eaten recently to give Dunkin’ proper representation here. First up is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Square.

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Dunkin’ is pretty good about rotating new flavors into their rotation every few months to supplement the usual array of donuts. Aside from their attempt to hop on the Cronut craze (rapid reaction: it was too expensive and not good), I rarely try these new creations. Partially because I don’t eat donuts too often and when I do, I go to my favorites, and partially because they don’t always seem appetizing (I have no interest in a key lime donut). However, one morning recently, I stopped in for coffee and saw the Reese’s Peanut Butter Square. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are a great candy, and the idea of turning that taste into a donut was too irresistible, so I broke down and bought one. Besides, it’s not really a poor choice if it produces content for the blog, right?

As befitting a “square” and not a donut, Dunkin’ charges a premium for this pastry: $1.49, which is a hefty price to pay for a fancy donut that’s not really larger than a regular donut. It felt heavier than a regular donut, and I certainly hoped it’d be more filling, but this is expensive for what it is.

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Dunkin’ says the Reese’s Peanut Butter Square “is filled with rich and creamy Reese’s peanut buttercreme, topped with chocolate icing and finished with an orange icing drizzle.” My first bite managed to get part of the donut without any filling. There’s always one side on a Dunkin’ Donuts filled donut that doesn’t have any filling, and it’s nice to use that side as a palate cleanser. The chocolate frosting in that bite was really sweet. I’m generally a vanilla or strawberry frosted person myself, so I’m not sure if the chocolate icing is actually sweeter, or just that I wasn’t used to that particular flavor.

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As I continued to eat, I encountered the buttercreme. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I also thought there was a chance they just filled it with peanut butter. This is probably better than peanut butter would have been. It’s texture was like a whipped cream. It did taste like a sweetened peanut butter, though more sugary than peanut buttery. I’d have preferred a little more peanut butter heavy taste, but this was good too.

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One problem is that for a donut at a premium price point, the filling seemed a little sparse. I’m guessing they use the same machine to fill all of their donuts, but I felt like this particular donut didn’t get a good squeeze. Or maybe the crevasse inside the donut was too small. The filling kept squeezing out as I bit, so perhaps there wasn’t enough room. If the donut wasn’t as wide, perhaps I could have fit the width of it in my mouth, but that isn’t possible with the square.

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When I did get all the flavors in a single bite, the chocolate icing was more prominent than the buttercreme, when I’d have preferred the reverse. But that’s a consequence of the lighter buttercreme serving more as a compliment here. The orange icing also had a chocolate taste and was mere decoration.

I guess I’d give this a qualified recommendation. While it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Square had good flavor, even being a touch too sweet. The first qualifier would be the price point. This is an expensive donut and it’s not really larger than a regular donut, but you’re paying 50% more. The other qualifier: is when does one eat this? Unless I’m feeling particularly gluttonous, I eat donuts with breakfast, but this is too sweet for me to eat in the morning, and I imagine most people would feel the same. Therefore, I see this particular item as more of an afternoon treat (put some of the money saved from reduced coffee prices after noon into the square price), rather than a breakfast item.

 

I’ve made my feelings on Subway very clear. Somehow, the people of the U.S. disagree with me and Subway seems to be everywhere, including one right around the corner from my old office. Of course that meant that as soon as they put up posters (and aired TV ads) advertising their new rotisserie style chicken and the Chicken Caesar Melt, I was compelled to give it a taste. Going into the experience, I was cautiously optimistic: the new chicken hopefully would taste like real meat, and it’s difficult to make a bad chicken Caesar sandwich, right?

Checking Subway’s site now, it appears the Chicken Caesar Melt is no longer available (I ate it five weeks ago!). However, the new chicken is still at Subway, so this post isn’t wholly gratuitous (like this one). The new chicken is “hand-pulled all white meat chicken, raised without antibiotics.” I don’t have a description of the sandwich itself, but I can vouch that it had chicken, Caesar dressing, and vegetables, all contained within bread. It was a sandwich.

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Before I get into the actual description, I do want to compliment the worker behind the counter who took my order. When ordering, I mentioned that I was there to try the new sandwich, he enthusiastically told me he ate it yesterday and really liked it. Yes, he seemed as if he was high, but I don’t think I’ve ever received such an enthusiastic thumbs up on an order from a fast food employee before and that deserves to be recognized.

Anyway, I ordered my sandwich, but then arose a common Subway problem: the customization issue. I went to order the Chicken Caesar Melt as they intended it to be made. I don’t want to customize anything to suit my tastes, I want the company to decide on the contents of a sandwich and sell it to me. Subway does not do this. I was able to list my ingredients by looking at the picture, but I didn’t know what bread to order. I got Italian bread, which felt wrong, but I was under the gun and no natural pairing with the sandwich jumped out at me. Also, I customized the sandwich because I wasn’t going to eat raw onions.

Lastly, the price seemed expensive. It was $7.06 for a 6-inch sub and a 21-oz. soda. The sandwich itself was $4.75, but at $7, I’d like to think they could throw in a bag of chips or something.

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Now onto the sandwich! Opening up the paper wrapping, the bread looked slightly unappetizing. The bread was toasted, but didn’t look like it had any crust and it looked a little greasy. Sauce also seemed to be overflowing. I could smell the Caesar dressing, and hot Caesar dressing has a certain smell to it which is not appealing. I opened up the bread to look at the inside, and I have to say that the chicken looked like actual chicken!

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My first bite was lettuce, tomato, and dressing. It made me eat my words because the bread did have a crusty texture. My second bite actually contained some chicken. It had the correct texture and I felt like I was eating an actual chicken sandwich, as opposed to a low grade meat sandwich. When tasted on its own the chicken was a little bland. Rotisserie style isn’t necessarily the most flavorful chicken style, as it usually needs something else (seasoning, sauce) to carry the flavor. Here, Subway was heavily depending on the rest of the sandwich to impart flavor. I should also note that they did not skimp on the chicken. I’ve been critical of their meat portions in the past, but I felt like the amount of chicken was appropriate.

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As I was eating, I ran across a sandwich construction problem. If I took a bite on the side of the bread with the cut, I really only ate lettuce and tomato. If I took a bite at the heel of the bread, I had a fully composed bite. So I’d alternate between bland and better bites which was disappointing. And the better bites weren’t quite good. The sandwich itself was a little bland. It needed salt or pepper or hot sauce. Something. Maybe this is my fault for taking off the onions or not taking advantage of the customization options, but it’s also a failure of Subway where they’re selling a sandwich which needs to be altered to have more taste.

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The cheese situation on this sandwich was a little weird. They put on provolone slices, but at the end, they also sprinkle on some Parmesan. I really liked the Parmesan addition. I could always taste the Parmesan bites and they were the best part of the sandwich. It made the sandwich taste more Caesar-like, and it was a subtle add on that I wouldn’t expect a chain to nail perfectly, so legitimate kudos are in order. The provolone was fine. No strong taste, but the melty texture fit the sandwich.

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While eating, something about the sandwich felt slightly off. I think the problem was the dressing. It could have been caused by the toasting process, but the dressing smelt weird and tasted slightly bitter. I generally like Caesar dressing, but this was off-putting. I’m honestly not sure what the problem is. Does Subway normally have a Caesar dressing as an option? I hope not and that this was them not working out a scalable recipe.

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As I continued to eat, the bread started falling apart which was disappointing. As a chain which uses bread as a selling point, there should have been a stronger performance here. I wasn’t expecting the best Italian bread ever, but it should have stood up to the sandwich, or at least imparted more flavor. Instead, I was barely holding together the sandwich as I finished. At least those bites were fairly moist and had some good flavor. Lastly, the veggies were mainly filler. I had spinach, which didn’t have much taste. The tomato also was tasteless, but at least added some texture to the sandwich.

If Subway still offered this sandwich and I was forced to eat a sandwich at Subway, I would eat this sandwich. Yes, those are heavy qualifiers, but they’re true. The Chicken Caesar Melt is legitimately the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten at Subway. The bites with the Parmesan were good! Unfortunately, too much of the sandwich was bland or had that weird Caesar taste.

I question whether this appeals to a typical Subway patron though. At $4.75 for a 6-inch, this isn’t cheap and it’s not a big sandwich. If you opt for the foot long, then you’re at a price point where you’re close enough to just going to  restaurant for a legitimate meal which would include a side, and would taste better. If Subway’s big appeal is food for a cheap price, this doesn’t fit the bill.

Also, in that same vein, I wouldn’t say I was full after the sandwich. I didn’t feel hungry, but I was in that in between where I definitely could have and wanted to eat more, and I definitely felt hungry in the middle of the afternoon.