Archives for posts with tag: Popeye’s

Fast food fish is difficult to pull off. There’s the ever-pressing question on the quality of the normal food at fast food establishments, and I think more people are wary of old seafood than an old burger. Oil quality and freshness is another, potentially underrated, issue. If the restaurant isn’t regularly cleaning and replacing the oil used for the fish, the air inside the establishment will have a gross funk, and the old oil will affect the taste of the fish, giving it a non-fresh taste. Also, fish items tend to be heavily battered, so you’re in for a heavy meal if you choose the fish route. Lastly, I also think they’re a tough sell if you’re near water. Any location that has access to fresh fish will also likely have cheap options to each said fresh fish. The price point may be higher than a fast fold establishment, but the quality is likely better.


All of this is a roundabout way of saying that even though I’ve been going to Popeye’s since I learned of its existence, I had never ventured to stray from the chicken until I tried the Sweet Heat Butterfly Shrimp. There’s no longer a product description on their website, but this is pretty self-explanatory: the breading on the shrimp combined sweet and spicy elements over their standard butterfly shrimp. This was sold in several different permutations: I ordered a 10-piece meal for $6.49, but it was also available in smaller portions in a $5 box. My meal came with a drink and a side dish.


The Sweet Heat Butterfly Shrimp have a good crunchy breading. Even though the surface area on the shrimp is smaller than on a chicken piece, you’re still getting that satisfying crunch on each bite. While there wasn’t an upfront spice, I did feel a lingering spicy aftertaste after I started eating the shrimp, which was pleasant. It wasn’t so hot as to set your mouth on fire, but at lot of fast food places don’t really deliver on promised heat. The shrimp meet that challenge.


Unfortunately, it’s the sweet aspect of the breading that did not leave me with a favorable impression. My initial thought is that it had a vanilla frosting taste. I don’t mind vanilla frosting, but it’s not an enjoyable taste when combined with shrimp and cayenne pepper. As I continued to eat, the sweetness became overwhelming, perhaps because I didn’t like that taste so it stood out more.


The butterfly shrimp themselves were surprisingly good. They weren’t tough or overly fishy. I didn’t get a big shrimp taste, but they served as a useful vehicle for the breading, which was the star of the meal. The shrimp were a decent size, and ten is definitely enough for a regular meal. They weren’t overly greasy or heavy. Perhaps most importantly, just like their chicken tenders, you can dip them into the mashed potatoes and they still taste good.


The only drawbacks to the shrimp: there were some issues in the consistency of the breading and they were served with the tails on. Not all the shrimp had full breading coverage, which defeats the purpose of the special breading. And while I don’t mind the tails on the shrimp, that makes them harder to eat with a fork, if you’re so inclined. Your hands are going to get a little messy.

While I wasn’t a fan of the Sweet Heat Butterfly Shrimp because of the overly sweet breading, I can say that I was a fan of the shrimp and regret not trying them before now. I’m not sure if they’ll come into the regular Popeye’s rotation, but I would absolutely order them again. I’ll also keep an eye in the future for new shrimp items that feature spiciness. I think I’d unequivocally like a spicy shrimp from Popeye’s. Because the experience broadened my menu choices at Popeye’s, I’d call it a success!


When I find myself at a fast food establishment, I generally lean towards ordering chicken. I do enjoy burgers, but I find that 1) chicken is generally more consistent across most locations (no surprise mayonnaise) and 2) I just love fried chicken. I’ve had the privilege of driving across the country four times, and on each occasion, I made specific plans to enjoy local delicacies, which frequently meant friend chicken. The drives also exposed me to the many great fried chicken focused fast food chains across the country. Unfortunately, these trips also opened my eyes to the fact that for whatever reason, we really don’t have much selection in New England. While Chick-Fil-A seems to be penetrating the market, the main options have always been KFC, and if you were willing to go out of your way for something special, Popeye’s.

Unlike its larger cousin, KFC, Popeye’s doesn’t seem to be as adventurous with its menu. While you’ll see KFC ads plastered all over your television (try the Georgia Gold and Nashville Hot!), I don’t see many ads for new Popeye’s products, but there is value in their consistency. Regular or spicy, chicken parts or tenders, the menu doesn’t change much but is always great.

Anyway, most of my fast food trips lately are going to a location with an order in mind: they have something new I want to try. But this trip to Popeye’s wasn’t prompted by an ad or tweet or reader request; I just wanted to go to Popeye’s. It wasn’t until I was staring at the menu, trying to figure out an order that would let me eat everything I wanted without spending $30 when I noticed the Smokehouse wings. I immediately decided to add them to my order, not substitute them for anything else. I’m not proud of how much I ate that day, but Popeye’s is worth it.


Popeye’s Smokehouse Boneless Wings were $4.99 for a six piece meal which comes with a side, biscuit and drink. Unfortunately, I’m writing this too late to have an official description, but I’m sure it would have included words such as “boneless white meat chicken” “marinated” and “smoke”. Fast food mad libs are fun.


As presented to me, the basket was a glorious mess of fried goodness. I could barely see the boneless wings underneath the mountain of fries (as a side note- Popeye’s fries are the biggest hit or miss fast food item since Wendy’s changed their fries; they’re either glorious or borderline inedible). I ate a few fries to create a path to the wings. Aside from the crazy amount of batter, the boneless wings were still huge. Normally I’d think of a boneless wing as something nugget-sized, but these were basically chicken tenders. I’m definitely not complaining, but it was much more food than I expected. A six-piece meal is more than enough without adding anything to your order.


Into the wings themselves, my first impression was the great crunch and hint of spice. They were fried to perfection and not as spicy as Popeye’s regular spicy chicken/tenders, but I definitely felt some heat. The chicken itself was tender and juicy, as with all of their chicken.


The Smokey flavor was more subtle and took a few more bites for me to notice. Eventually, that flavor cane out, and the best way I can think to describe it was like ham, which made for a weird experience. I’d take a bite and get the crunchy, spicy batter and juicy chicken… then a hammy aftertaste. If you ate a chicken tender then chased it with a small piece of ham, that maybe a replication of the experience.


I love Popeye’s, if I haven’t made that clear, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to review one of their items. However, this was not a winner. The idea of adding a smoky taste to a medium spiced chicken tender is a worthwhile idea, but the execution fell short here. I couldn’t shake the ham taste as I ate, and that’s not a flavor I want to mix with my fried chicken. If they leaned more in a BBQ type smoked direction, I’d be willing to give the concept another chance, but as served, I’d stick to my regular order on my next Popeye’s visit.