Address: 535 Dick Road, Buffalo, NY

Rich and Alana ordered: Wedges with a side of mac and cheese

Iris, Dan and Leah ordered: Double Downs, wedges and mac and cheese

Plus: Juicy chicken, bacon, located on Dick Road

Minus: Hairy burnt macaroni, saucy sauce, heart attacks

8 chicks on dicks out of 10

 Rich sez: On this particular weekend Alana and I decided to visit the city of Buffalo. Why? Well our carnivorous friends, Iris, Dan and Leah wanted to sink their teeth into KFC’s newest creation – The Double Down; which for some reason is not available in Canada. So Saturday morning, at 8am we met up with friends, grabbed some coffees and breakfast treats for the 2 hour car ride, and off we went the land of the Buffalo.

Iris sez: I should preface this review with one important disclaimer: I actually like KFC. In fact, I LOVE the colonel’s secret mix of 11 spices. Even though I have occasionally dallied with the likes of Church’s Chicken and Popeye’s Chicken, a fidelity to my childhood memory means KFC will always be my first love. When we crawled out of Rich’s car, and the smell of greasy chicken not so much tickled, but assaulted, my senses, I knew this would be the highlight of our Buffalo trip. (That was before we stopped by Target and I got two Zac Posen dresses for cheap, which made that the highlight of my trip.)

 The thing that immediately caught my attention after I ordered my Double Down meal was that I had to wait five minutes for it to be ready. This implied that the “sandwich” was made fresh. I can’t tell if this is a franchise standard or just because of the lack of patrons at the Dick Road KFC. In any case, I took many pictures with a cardboard cutout of a Double Down for posterity sake while I sucked down half of my diet Pepsi. The latter would haunt me later on.

After a few false starts, our Double Down meals were finally ready. My first impression was how greasy it was-not surprising at all since they just fished the majority of my meal out of the deep fryer. The flimsy paper sleeve was already soaked in grease and the cardboard box that comes with the meal also took on an unusual, greasy sheen. I had to wrapped my sandwich in a wad of napkins to stop the grease from invading my hand. After a few obligatory pictures with the sandwich, I was ready for my first bite.

Wow, the chicken was super juicy! To the point where I can’t tell if I was eating white meat or dark meat after the first couple bites. The chicken fillets were larger than I expected and it was obviously made out of a single breast meat-no mushy McNugget chicken here. I did not expect such quality at all. The stuff in between the two chicken, however, is just gross. The “swiss” cheese was a gooey blob that smothered the single bacon in my sandwich. The bacon was chewy, not crispy. And there’s some kind of orange special sauce that tasted like chipotle ranch sauce, which I did not enjoy at all. This combo of cheese-bacon-sauce also added a lot of salt to an already-salty sandwich. I chugged the rest of my diet Pepsi and still I was left thirsty for the rest of the day. In fact, I felt the greasiness was less of a detriment than the saltiness. But overall, I think this sandwich still exceeded my expectations. There’s only so much you can do to improve a sandwich made out of chicken fillets and I felt KFC had actually put some thought behind the composition of this 30 Rock-joke of a sandwich.

 The order of wedges that came with the meal was well seasoned, but no longer crispy by the time I came around to it. Nonetheless, despite the risk of grease poisoning, I ate all of my wedges. This prompted Dan to say, “Iris, you win at KFC.” Thanks Dan! If I die of an acute heart attack within the next month, can somebody carve that into my tombstone?

Dan sez: Okay, Iris, I’ll up your secret and raise you one. Not only do I kind of like the colonol’s blend of 11 spices, but occasionally I even go to the KFC near my house and buy some. It’s a totally different experience and shows the clear delineation between KFC in Canada and in the States. They are practically different restaurants. Here they have a lot of packaged products and seem to focus a lot on stuff like popcorn chicken or chicken fries. In the States it seems to be far more focused on huge chunks of meat and (relative) freshness. In fact, the experiences are so different that I would say American KFC is closer to what you would get at a Popeye’s here. They even have biscuits. Canadian KFC seems like it’s devolved into selling sides for Taco Bell meals.

 As for the “sandwich” itself the most interesting thing about it really is the marketing. It’s basically a perfectly regular serving of chicken (and a pretty good one at that), packaged in such a way to be excessive. The baconator at Wendy’s is worse than this (it has almost double the calories), and while it certainly got some gaffaws, it didn’t cause the same cultural shock. KFC has made a fast-food chicken cordon bleu and packaged it to seem like American excess.

The experience of eating the thing was actually pretty good. The chicken was fresh and juicy, it was spiced perfectly and the cheese and bacon stopped it from being bland (the special sauce was slightly unneeded though). The main problems were in the logistics of eating it. Without the bun it was  difficult to hold (the thin paper sleeve it came in got covered with melted cheese and eaten through by grease), and sauce and cheese kept leaking out.

 Overall though the biggest problem was the size. It really would have been excellent if it was more “snacker” sized. Of course, this would run counterto the “culture of excess” motif they’re pushing with the Double Down. But I’d rather I have a meal I enjoy gastronomically than ironically.

Leah sez: For those considering eating a KFC Double Down, just know: What doesn’t kill you, will only make you stronger — and also, eventually, fatter. Iris and Dan are spot-on with their assessment of the sandwich’s (breast-wich?) finer points. It is effectively a fast-food chicken cordon bleu, specially designed for people who hate plastic forks as much as they hate their livers. The serving size is surprisingly(excessively) ample; the chicken “buns” are shaped from quality white meat, though they’re overly salted (in keeping with the Colonel’s special, stroke-inducing recipe). And yes, it’s fresh. Straight out of the deep-fryer fresh. So fresh, in fact, it’ll burn you.

Or at least it burned me. By merely pointing at my sandwich — not even lifting it, dripping with delicious grease, into my eager maw — I managed to scald my finger. Mind you, mine are lady fingers — a sort of fingers to which the Double Down sandwich is not aggressively marketed. But given the unwieldy shape of thing, and it’s straight-out-of-the-fryer temperature, I can only imagine further injury awaits KFC customers with similarly delicate features — particularly if they’re illiterate and fail to heed the warnings printed on the very sandwich wrapper that scalded me.

Following the incident, I proceeded to conduct a survey based on a sample of our three Double Down reviewers. Based on our findings, 66 per cent of all Double Down consumers will finish their meal with at least one minor hand injury. This, however, is no strike against KFC. This scientifically irrefutable data only serves to demonstrate their product is even more Xtreme (XXX*bacon*XXXtreme?) than it purports to be. And now that I’ve conquered the double down, I’m fairly sure I could eat a sandwich made of two live bears, havarti and turducken without issue. But skip thechipotle-mayo: that shit was completely unnecessary.

BONUS SIDE DISH COMMENTARY: Anything nice Alana and Rich have to say about the mac and cheese is all lies. My side order was accompanied by a mysterious crusty brown “ingredient.” Fail.


Stuck in Scarborough

May 10, 2010

Review: Tasty Shwarma

2993 Sheppard Ave E ,  Scarborough, ON, M1T3J5

Rich ordered: Falafel, fries, Diet Coke.

Iris ordered: Chicken shwarma

Plus: Quality, quantity.

Minus: The wait, the location of condiments, the pot belly.

prison guards needed out of 10

What is Stuck in Scarborough? It’s restaurant reviews to help those who have to commute to Scarborough everyday for work; For those people who just want to get out of the office for an hour to eat a decent lunch. I will help you find the best eats in Scarberia. Expect some special guests reviews as well.

Rich sez: Today at work I decided to round-up some troops from the office and head out for some falafels and shwarma. The email went something like this:

Subject: LUNCHO


Leave at 11:30 to beat the rush?

Who’s in?

A lot of people were not too keen on the 11:30am roll out, but if you want to avoid the line up at Tasty Shwarma, you go early or don’t go at all. One thing I recommend as soon as you strut into Tasty is that you try to claim your seats — it fills up fast. We usually put our jackets on chairs or have a group of us with switch-blades sit at tables claiming dibs. 

When you line up to place your order you might be taken aback by the 3 or 4 workers behind the counter who may or may not be straight out of prison, but whatever. Tasty Shwarma has combos with a choice of salad or fries and a drink. I say hit up the fries, they are thick cut, made to order, and like Mc Donald’s, they salt the shite out of them. On this occasion, I had the falafel combo. The falafel balls are also made to order so it takes about 7 -10 minutes to get your lunch all situated. It’s definitely worth it.

After a few customers pass me who ordered shwarma instead of falafel, my hunger grew. As I stood there waiting, I imagined jumping the counter and just falafel-bobbing into the deep fryer. Then becoming some super-mangled-faced falafel villain who terrorizes the locals at Scarborough Town Centre. FINALLY, I am nudged by my friend Iris, and I snap out of my food-deprivation daydream. After I passed the line up of 15 to pick up my order,  I headed over to the garbage bin where they keep the condiments. My orange cafeteria-style tray has a wax paper on it so I dumped my fries out and smothered them with ketchup and vinegar.  As we sat and un-wrapped our half-moon sandwiches, I could feel the eyes gazing, everybody in line staring at us with a hungry hatred. I made sure that I made my first mouthful a good one. After the first few bites I found my self searching for the spiciness I ordered. It was nowhere to be found. Sad, but the crunchy pink pickled turnips, on the other hand, are slammin’. Also, the toasty wrap and the spices in the light brown falafel balls tickle your taste buds. I always leave my paper wrapped around the falafel, so I avoid a messy drip at the end.

And in the end I feel… full. I ate way too much. I wish I wore my jeans with the elastic waist band. But it is so good. It is a nice treat-yourself kind of lunch. One last, but important, note — don’t forget to bring cash. They don’t take debit.

Iris sez: Like Rich said, I was pretty reluctant to go to Tasty Shwarma at 11:30. After all, I just ate a giant cheese scone for breakfast like an hour ago and I wasn’t hungry at all. But after Rich told me how PACKED the place usually gets, I reluctantly followed along.

The place was actually pretty empty when we got there—only 2 men were waiting for their shwarma order. I gave Rich the seriously-we-came-out-here-early-for-this? look. But the line was out the door in the span of 10 minutes between when I first made my order, and when I sat down with my meal. So I guess Rich was totally right about the long line up. I originally wanted to order the shwarma meal with tabouli, thinking I could eat it while humming this song. Then I overheard Rich and our coworker, Jeff, waxing enthusiastically over the crispy, salty fresh-cut fries. Well, Rich had been right so far already, might as well follow his lead again.
The thing that struck me the most at Tasty Shwarma was how juicy that chicken looked. I was further filled with glee when, upon receiving my order, the man carved off my serving of chicken straight from the giant rotisserie. None of my meat was carved out ahead of time and left sitting on the counter only to be microwaved later. For someone who’s used to the plebeian shwarma offerings of Ghazale and Ali Baba on College street, this was a delightful surprise. 
My shwarma was stuffed with the usual tomato/lettuce/pickled turnip toppings and a generous serving of hot sauce and hummus. Not that these weren’t tasty toppings, but the flavour of the chicken eclipsed my memory so much that I couldn’t recall what the non-chicken ingredients tasted like. However, I do remember the fries being absolutely delicious. It took some concentrated effort, but I finished the whole meal, fries an all. It was a LOT of food. I was ready to lapse into a food coma in the car on the way back to the office. 
Of course the only downside to a 11:30 lunch was heading back to office and realized there’s still 5 hours of work ahead of me. But Tasty Shwarma made it worth it.