I’ve got to admit, I don’t make it out to Wendy’s often. It’s not the restaurant’s fault, but the location of the closest one is within a quick radius of at least three other good restaurants, a Trader Joe’s, and is halfway between home and school, so it’s rare that I’m ever making a pit stop. Tonight, though, I found myself with a block of spare time and a nagging parched feeling, so I decided to stop for a soda for the ride home, remembering I’d had a gift card for the new ranch guacamole chicken sandwich to try out.
However, when I saw an advertisement for two new varieties of grilled chicken flatbread tucked behind some bushes, I couldn’t help myself. As luck would have it, they happened to be out of guacamole as well. I was initially apprehensive because from the angle my car was at, all I could see was “smoky honey-” and I reasoned that if the next word was “BBQ” I’d just pass. Fast food barbecue is nothing exciting and the bulk of them are overly sugared and sticky, but it turns out that I was in luck. Smoky honey mustard and asiago ranch awaited me along with a cool drink.
They also explicitly advertised the sandwich in a generic “fancy food” font and had a strange sign (presumably for people with allergies to butter? Or a desire for fine dining at fast food prices?) informing customers that the flatbread sandwiches were prepared with butter. All righty, then!
For $3.99 plus tax, the flatbreads provide a decent value and an excellent quality. After a little research, I found that the chain has been testing four varieties for the last five months, switching up the flavor combinations and offering two others in addition to the two mentioned above, smoky apple barbecue (though whether that’s applewood or apple fruit, I don’t know) and caprese. They’re packaged in a special brown-bag wrapper with instructions to rip and grip for eating on the go.
Right from the get-go, it was easy to see that these were not your average fast food chicken sandwich. The smoky honey mustard sandwich features grilled, seasoned chicken, a blend of lettuce and arugula, tomato slices, and a smoky honey mustard sauce atop a whole-grain flatbread. The asiago ranch flatbread, like its sandwich counterpart, features the same meat and vegetables, but adds on a slice of asiago cheese, ranch dressing, and crispy bacon.
The two flatbreads were exceptional. Although the format of the whole-grain bread has the surreptitious flavor profile of a mother trying to sneak vegetables into her kid’s food- a highly sweetened honey flavor to detract from the crunchy nuts and seeds and a toasty exterior so that nobody notices the bread isn’t blindingly white, it’s still a valiant attempt at vending whole grains on a large scale.The bread has a nice chew to it while still remaining yielding and is soft, holding together all the toppings without falling apart.
I felt like the honey mustard sandwich was the less balanced of the two. While I’m always up for a condiment-centric sandwich, there was no smokiness to be found in the sauce and its sweetness only enhanced the sugars in the bread. I would have liked to see a little more bite to this sauce, from something like paprika or even horseradish. However, the vegetables were crisp and fresh and the chicken was moist, tender, and lightly seasoned with a blend of spices that cut some of the cloying flavor. The sandwich contained about a half of a pounded, but still relatively thick, chicken breast, and was very filling.
We unanimously preferred the flavors in the asiago ranch sandwich– it’s definitely one I’d get again if I needed a quick meal. For whatever reason, the tomato in this one was much pinker and anemic-looking, and tasted less fresh. The remaining components were amazing, though- the slice of included bacon was thick, chewy, and even a little crispy at the ends. It balanced out the bread wonderfully along with the sharp tang of the asiago, slightly melted from the heat of the chicken.
Like the other sandwich, the lettuce added a welcomed bitter contrast to the rich flavors and was bound together by the ranch sauce, which was strong enough to give a kick to the whole package, but didn’t overpower any one ingredient.
All in all, I was really impressed with these. The interesting ingredient combinations and high-quality feel of the sandwich gave me deli or coffee shop quality at a fast food prices. I’ve seen things like this sell for around eight bucks at organic coffee places, so this is a wonderful compromise. I’d love to see new versions of these on the market soon!